When I was in high school, we had an English assignment to write about where we would be when we were 70 years old. I wrote about being an old lady with long, flowing, gray hair, standing outside my little workshop on my own little piece of land, holding a welding helmet. I had all of my creations that I had made over the years all around me. It was a very peaceful image. This assignment was merely written to get the grade in my class and was quickly forgotten as I got older.
I went to school for a while for a career that just wasn’t a good fit for me. Yes, it was creative, but it just wasn’t feeding my passion. I eventually dropped out and worked odd jobs that would inevitably get me nowhere. I got married and had my first son, but school was always on my mind—I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. As I got older and my family grew, I knew I needed to find something to fill this ever-growing feeling of needing something more. Something more fun. Something more fulfilling. Something more stable. I knew I needed to get back into school and make it work.
After having a conversation with my mom one day, she mentioned the trades and how overall they were in desperate need of skilled employees. She mentioned electrician and plumber, and that’s just not me. I wasn’t even sure what to do with that information until she said welding. All of a sudden, that lady with the white hair and that paper I had written came back to me.
Going back to school in your thirties after you’ve already started raising a family can be a really scary and exciting thing. Going back to school as a woman in the welding industry can make it even more nerve wracking. My journey, however, has been amazing. In my short time at ECC, I feel I have gained so much knowledge in this field. When I first started, I thought welding was done with nothing more than a blowtorch. I didn’t realize the different processes and all the welding that is around us in our everyday lives.
Part of why I chose ECC is because of the location and being close to home, but also because the welding program has a great reputation. I’m enrolled in the Integrated Career & Academics Preparation System (ICAPS) program. I am very thankful for this program and for our ICAPS teacher, Ellen Herbert. With her and with the help of all the instructors, even ones whose class I’m not in, I have learned so much. Everyone here is so patient and understanding. No one has ever made me feel bad for making a mistake or not catching on right away. After only two semesters I am now a qualified welder and have already gained employment in the field before even graduating.
Taryn White ‘19
Basic Vocational Certificate