Tanner Stephens recently graduated in December 2019, earning an associate degree in Applied Science in Welding Technology. He not only gained employment while still completing his program but also graduated with high honors, having earned a GPA of over 3.5. Tanner is also the 2019 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship recipient.
What is your current profession?
I’m a Welder-Fabricator at Southeastern Installation Inc. in Lexington. Without coming to DCCC, I would not have had the opportunity to get my foot in the door.
Do you plan to further your education in the future?
I could see continuing to build my knowledge of skilled trades. I would definitely return to DCCC to further my knowledge and skills in the future.
What’s your fondest DCCC memory?
One of the most valuable parts of my program was getting to visit welding shops and companies. The trips really showed me what’s out there and gave me an idea of what to expect. I learned so much about the industry and how it operates that I didn’t know before starting the program.
How did you choose your program of study?
I actually researched career paths as a part of a class I took at Davidson County High School. Welding is a manual labor job that has a variety of challenging positions at any company in the industry. I also knew I could expect to become financially stable and earn an income that would help in supporting my family.
What do you recall being challenging about college? How did you overcome that challenge?
AutoCAD class put my math skills to work by creating dimensions for blueprints. TIG pipe was also a great challenge for my multitasking skills, especially when a weld needs to be made in a specific difficult position which is not as easy as you think. There were others in my classes that were already certified. I was able to learn from the instructors and from my fellow classmates.
What’s been your greatest life achievement?
I’m most proud of going to school full time and working forty to fifty hours every two weeks, while continuing to keep a 3.5 and higher GPA, as well as graduating with high honors and receiving the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship.
What does the future hold for you?
I believe the future holds more opportunities and more financial well-being. I can see a path of progression. There’s always going to be a need for welding out there. What I learned at DCCC prepared me for my current role and for advancing in my career.
How has DCCC prepared you for your current role or your future goal(s):
I got hired at Southeastern Installation Inc. while I was still in the welding program at DCCC. We went on a company visit, and I just knew immediately it was a place where I wanted to work. I was so impressed with the operations, that it was a family-owned business, and that everyone on staff was so polite. I met several people on staff including the plant manager and asked if they were hiring.
During my interview I had to show what I knew. Almost all of the welding tests they gave me, I had already learned the techniques at DCCC and used the same equipment. For the test that I had yet to learn in school, I had a good foundation and was still able to perform well.
What advice would you give to others considering if DCCC is the right choice?
I would encourage anyone who wants a better life and who doesn’t want to live paycheck-to-paycheck to take the steps to chase their dreams and go for their goals.