Until my husband decided to go school at the YOUNG age of 40 for welding, a complex skilled trade. I really had never put a lot of thought into skilled trade. He has always done skilled trades.. without schooling. He rebuilt our house in Oregon, designed audio systems in cars and rebuilt old cars. I was always in awe of his abilities. It is nothing I could do.
I was so excited for him to go for one of his dreams of learning and getting his welding degree. He applied for the FAFSA and received a grant. It covered his tuition, but ONLY his tuition. He was going to have to go to school full time. FULL TIME. For a family of 5 this was a little scary. My teacher self decided to go into overdrive looking for more scholarships for him to help us get through the 10 months of school.
What started out as a search for help, became a lesson in our societal values. At some point in the 70’s trade work became looked down upon, as if skilled work had little to no value. The push was for degrees at major universities, at a high cost. Trust me I know. I have a masters in education and still owe on my loan. I don’t make anything as a teacher and I am not alone. My husband’s entire 10 months is fully paid for and he can get a skilled job making more than I do. At almost no cost to us. We forget about all the jobs that someone has to do. Jobs that require technicality, jobs that require accuracy, jobs that require SKILL. Yet, our society has placed little value on these jobs. Many are in high demand – due to the current workforce retiring and no one to replace them.
Finding a scholarship took me over a week searching into the middle of the night until my eyes crossed. I was determined to find something – there had to be something – anything. I looked up his nationalities, family history, parents (only for mom’s) going back to school – he didn’t qualify for any. Around midnight one night I came across the most amazing site!
It is a foundation supported and run by Mike Rowe (you might know him from Dirty Jobs). On his site there was a scholarship The 2014 mikeroweWORKS Foundation Work Ethic Scholarship. I read the details – WAIT.. this might work though the deadline was a week away. I was able to gather all of the materials we needed and post marked it 2 days before it was due. My husband received an email saying he was one of finalists – we just had to make a video on “Why he deserved this scholarship”.
Our brilliant idea of having the girls in the video didn’t quite work out, but we submitted anyway in the hopes of a scholarship. You can check out the video here – for a big laugh (please don’t post anything rude). We checked back daily to see if he qualified. The date kept getting pushed out. We had no idea why. Then they announced it – everyone was receiving something. The reason for the delay is many schools and companies that serve the trades heard about the need for this scholarship and more donations kept coming in. Even after the initial scholarship and welding supplies (donated by Lincoln Electric). We received another check a month later.
We truly are grateful for both the scholarship donors and to the Mike Rowe Foundation. It has made life a little easier for us. Mike Rowe is truly trying to move education in the right direction. I wish there was more out there for all of the dedicated trade people out there, because as he says “somebody’s gotta do it”. We decided to give back in a small way that we could. Amazon has a program called Amazon smile and you can connect with different groups and a percentage of your purchases gives a donation to that organization – guess who is on there?? Mike Rowe Works Foundation .
Some of the amazing welding items he received:
Check this out! Welders make up to $200,000