Grand Rapids Community College was one of three schools in the country to each receive a $100,000 joint grant from Rockford-based Wolverine Footwear and Metallica Scholars to help students with workforce training and career skills.
Every participating student also received Wolverine boots and clothing to help get them started in their career through the company’s Project Bootstrap program.
“Wolverine’s involvement strengthens an already outstanding program,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “We strive to work closely with our local employers as part of our mission to being relevant and responsive to West Michigan. We deeply appreciate this support and commitment to our students. Together, we provide people with skills and opportunities to change lives.”
GRCC invested the grant in its welding program that is in full swing as its current class — third overall as a program — has 15 students enrolled. Two of those students who are currently enrolled are Precious Young and Anna Petlick.
Young said she was attending Kent Career Tech Center for glass designing, but her interest in welding grew and although KCTC has a welding program, she said she wasn’t accepted in the program because she was too old. Her next option was GRCC’s welding program, where she was granted a scholarship.
“I started looking at (GRCC’s) programs, and I realized that they were really expensive, and I couldn’t afford it,” Young said. “I started to fill out a FAFSA application and that took forever. It was complicated, and I didn’t have all the information I needed. I kept on refreshing the GRCC website to see if there was something that could help and then I saw the Metallica Scholars program and it had something to do with welding. It was literally by chance I found it, but I was really determined to find some (financial) help, really.”
Petlick grew up in a trade family. She graduated from Grand Valley State University, where she went through its bachelor’s in fine arts jewelry and metalsmithing program and now works at a company that makes employee jewelry-like recognition products such as pins.
“I have been at this job for four years, and I have learned a lot but I feel as though I have hit a dead end, and I realize that it is not the long-term fit for me, so this scholarship opportunity and Wolverine’s generosity made it affordable for me to go back to school and better my future without taking on more debt,” she said. “It really gives me hope for my future and especially with everything that is going on in the world right now that hope is really helpful. With shipping and logistics, parts and components being hard to be shipped from different countries, I am really hoping that with everything that is going on around the world with COVID and its impact on the U.S. that in-house production improves as far as the products and things we use here in the U.S.”
After graduation, Petlick said she is interested in going into the aerospace or renewable energy or furniture design field.
“Welding is a career that I can apply for anywhere,” Young said.