Metallica’s All Within My Hands grant is music to students’ ears

Yes, you read that right. The Metallica.

The Metallica that has sold over 125 million album copies worldwide.

The Metallica that has received nine Grammy Awards.

The Metallica that has over 17.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Add yet another thing to that list of accomplishments: The Metallica that created All Within My Hands (AWMH), a non-profit, philanthropic organization. In 2019, AWMH partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to create Metallica Scholars, a major workforce education initiative that supports relevant job skills training for community college students.

Now, you may be thinking, why would a rock band choose to support career and technical education? According to James Hetfield, Metallica’s guitarist and vocalist, the band wanted to give back to the communities who support them while touring across the country.

“We are in direct involvement with multiple essential career choices along our path. From electrical, professional driving, culinary, mechanical maintenance, public safety, logistical organizers. And that just scratches the surface. Those, along with a multitude of other technical careers, make our touring and our performances possible. We are passionate and grateful to these trades and tradespeople.”

‘Grateful’ is the same word Clinton Community College’s (CCC) president, Brian Kelly, uses to describe how he feels about Metallica. After discovering AWMH’s grant, he decided to take a chance and apply for it. Much to his surprise, CCC was chosen out of a highly competitive applicant pool to receive a $100,000 grant to help cover costs for students enrolled in the college’s Engineering Technology program. Only 23 colleges in the nation made the cut.

“There is a significant industry need for trained team members, so this opportunity for our students is tremendous,” said Kelly. “For 40 years, the band has meant so much to so many people, and we are thrilled they have chosen to invest in our community and local economy.”

To date, the college has awarded $60,000 in scholarships, with ten students receiving full tuition coverage.

One of those scholarships went to Alisha Lemon.

Her passion for engineering technology came while on a night shift at Little Trees, a manufacturer of air fresheners in DeWitt, Iowa.

“I was talking with one of the mechanics one day when they had the back of our machine open with all the lights of the circuit board,” explained Lemon. “And I was like, ‘I want to do that, how do I get there?’ He recommended programmable logic controller (PLC) programming and that’s how I found CCC.”

Alisha Lemon in front of machinery

As a full-time Quality Control Inspector, the program’s flexibility is what sealed the deal for Lemon. Since the majority of coursework can be done online and at her own pace, it’s made it possible for her to complete classes.

“I go in to work at 5 at night and I get off at 3:30 in the morning. What that enables me to do is after I get off of work, I can work on my online assignments at home. Then when the lab opens at 7:30 in the morning, I’m able to come in and get my lab work done for a couple of hours, go home, go to sleep, and do it all again.”

Yet, engineering tech wasn’t always the career path she intended to follow. Lemon earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from the University of Iowa in 2016. After taking a crack at a professional career in stage management, she found it was not a stable job, financially speaking.

“I was a theatre kid in high school and knew that’s what I wanted to do. But the one thing you realize is, the whole starving artist thing is very real.”

When she came back to her small hometown in Iowa, she discovered her own ‘production’ in a manufacturing facility setting.

“I decided to pursue this because it’s not much different, in my opinion, than being a stage manager in a theatre production.”

Lemon, who was already enrolled in CCC’s Engineering Technology program at the time, was overjoyed when she saw that she could apply to become a Metallica Scholar. Just the possibility of it was exciting.

“My first reaction was, there’s no way they would pick me, because I thought they’d want to give it to someone younger — just out of high school — and not someone who already has a bachelor’s degree and is kind of wayward in their life.”

But, everything fell into place. Even when she received a formal letter in the mail from the college, she still couldn’t believe it.

Scholarships are still available! Learn more at