From B-52 Flight to Parental Care to a Biotech Career: The Air Force Vet's "Colorful Work History"

From B-52 Flight to Parental Care to a Biotech Career: The Air Force Vet’s “Colorful Work History”

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WRAL TechWire features a story highlighting the NC Bio Jobs Hub initiative. Go to the Bio Jobs Hub for more stories and information about the life science job opportunities made possible by NC’s workforce training initiatives.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – From flying B-52 bombers as a member of the United States Air Force to driving semi-finals across the country, Robert Voissem has had what he calls a “colorful work story”.

It was his time taking care of his parents that led to another career change and a biotech degree from Wilson Community College.

“After my parents died, I started exploring careers that can help people live,” Voissem said. “I’ve looked at different careers, but biotechnology has opened up many possibilities for improving the lives of others.”

Robert Voissem (left) with NC Community College System President Thomas Stith III. (Photo via NC Biotech Center)

Voissem’s quest for his new career led him to Wilson Community College and biotech instructor Stephanie Winstead.

“After speaking with Ms. Stephanie, who leads the biotechnology program at Wilson Community College, I decided to pursue this career which focuses on saving people’s lives on a global scale,” said Voissem. “She took the time to show me the equipment and answer my many questions about this vast field.”

Sam Taylor (photo NCBIO)

He began his new journey to a biotechnology degree as an Associate of Applied Science as one of the first recipients of the North Carolina Community Colleges Samuel M. Taylor Scholarship. Prior to his death earlier this year, Taylor was founder and president of NCBIO for more than 25 years and played a pivotal role in the state’s growth as a leader in biotechnology.

Scholarship recipients receive $ 3,000 annually ($ 1,500 per semester) to cover tuition, fees, and books.

Voissem credits the scholarship and instructor Winstead for sparking his interest in the program.

“I joined the program this fall and learned many aspects of this career from Ms. Stephanie’s passion from her several years of working in this field,” she said. “During this educational journey, she has shared her vast knowledge of her lessons and she guides her while we are engaged in laboratory experiments.”

As a result, he is learning to transfer the class material into action in the laboratory.

Upon graduation next year, Voissem intends to become a lab technician in the Wilson and Clayton area. For now, he will learn everything he can in class.

“One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to simply be myself, ask questions and seek the wisdom that Ms. Winstead shares with her fellow students throughout each classroom and lab experience.”

(C) NC Biotechnology Center

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