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National Welding Month has Special Meaning at the San Diego College of Continuing Education

April 24, 2023

 Jasmin Hernandez, Jocelyn Uribe, Liam Mcgeath, and Andrea Jarvis.The San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) is building our community. Literally.

April may be National Welding Month, but at the SDCCE, welding month is a yearlong event. The award-winning program attracts student welders who are proving that the skilled and technical trades are for anyone, any age, who come from all walks of life and who are willing to work hard.

SDCCE provides students with 1,800 hours of high-quality welding training, protective gear, clothing and tools – for no cost – and their career ready.

At the SDCCE, students opt to specialize in one to five free welding certificates: Shielding Metal Arc Welding; Gas Metal and Flux Cored Arc Welding; Gas Tungsten Arc Welding and Pipe Welding. Students completing the program are prepared to take the American Welding Society qualification test, receive a welding certification and can enter union apprenticeships and work for General Dynamics NASSCO or other employers.

Jocelyn UribeJocelyn Uribe said the SDCCE Welding program has been a godsend. Uribe’s father worked at the shipyards as a mechanical engineer. That experience inspired Uribe, 28, to learn a trade at the SDCCE. “I always tried to go back to school, but couldn’t afford it, it's expensive,” said Uribe who had to drop out of high school in ninth grade. Now as a mother of two, Uribe wants to be an example for her kids. With no barriers of cost, she is working toward earning a Shielded Metal Arc Welding certificate while taking high school equivalency credential courses through the GED Testing Service. “The clothes and supplies needed to take the welding program were provided to me. I did not have to buy anything, which allowed me to do this,” she said. “Welding is an accomplishment and a great example that will encourage and motivate my children to be successful and passionate.” Uribe plans to go to work as a structural welder.

Liam McgeathLiam Mcgeath, 24, is working toward a certificate in Shielded Metal Arc Welding at the SDCCE. Before taking up welding, Mcgeath attended Cal Poly Pomona to study engineering. “The experience was not as hands-on as I would have liked. Plus, my scholarship ran out so I would have had to pay for my classes at the university cost,” he shared. When Mcgeath moved to San Diego, he started working in a restaurant and is now inspired to earn a sustainable career as a certified welder. “I am learning so much here at the SDCCE including math and blueprint reading.” Mcgeath’s goal is to work in commercial construction.

Andrea JarvisAndrea Jarvis, 33, worked in retail and customer service jobs before being able to pursue the trades. “I am chasing my dream to become a welder,” said Jarvis, whose late father worked in sheet metal fabrication at Rohr, a leading aerospace manufacturing company. “The SDCCE has so much to offer minority women,” she said. “Welding is challenging, but there is a ton of mentorship here as well as peer support to do well.” Jarvis plans to earn all five welding certificates from the SDCCE.

Lauren Spangler (right)Lauren Spangler, 22, enrolled in the welding program while she serves the country as a Marine. Spangler is a military police officer who works with HMX helicopters. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, she graduated high school with Advanced Placement honors and competed in welding competitions. Spangler aspires to become a Master Welder following her deployment in Hawaii. “I want to do what I love and be the best I can be,” she said.

Jasmin HernandezAmong the youngest of her peers is Jasmin Hernandez, 18. While in high school Hernandez excelled at track and field, basketball, and la crosse and was encouraged to go to a university. She had a different plan after graduation; welding. “I was always told to go to college, because my dad knew what it was like to struggle and my mom could not finish college because she was taking care of me,” said Hernandez, who enrolled in the SDCCE program after her senior year  in high school. “My dad sees how enthusiastic I am about welding and is very supportive.” Determination, she said, is key. “Do not let being young stop you. I am getting into the trade at a noticeably early age and will have a lot of career options.” Hernandez is pursuing all five  welding certificates at the SDCCE with a goal to become a pipeline welder.

Welding is among the highest paying skilled trades in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Ironworkers was $47,010 per year in 2021.

Free welding classes are located at the Educational Cultural Complex in Southeast San Diego. The SDCCE’s state-of-the-art welding facility features 100 welding booths and Miller and Lincoln inverter power units.

Enrollment for welding is open now for the summer and fall semesters at the SDCCE. To learn more visit, SDCCE.EDU.

Allura Olympia Garis