Jeremy, 30, from Victoria, Texas, is a lead welding instructor at the Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston. A United States Marine Corps veteran, Jeremy has been at the school for about two and a half years. He has 10+ years’ experience in the welding industry.
Thanks for your time, Jeremy. Tell us a little about your welding career.
I’ve been welding about 10 years in total. Before coming to Tulsa, I was a combo pipe welder, primarily working in shutdown/turnarounds and new plant construction. I worked on the road quite a bit.
As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always liked to work with my hands. I didn’t really have anything specific in mind; the only goal that I really wanted to accomplish was to become a sniper in the Marine Corps. That was my overall goal. But I always saw myself working in a trade of some kind. I need to be active. I need to be moving, I need to be working with my hands. That’s the way I’ve always been since I was a kid.
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Thank you for your service Jeremy. What made you go into teaching a few years ago?
I have a young family, so I wanted some stability and not to travel as much. But I’d wanted to teach prior to that. While serving in the Marine Corps, I spent time training foreign military and I really enjoyed that. I found I had a gift for teaching, for laying things out and making them understandable very hands-on.
What do you like best about teaching?
The outcomes. The progress that I can see in an individual who comes in with zero skill in what they’re trying to learn. I enjoy watching them develop from having no clue on how to accomplish a task in front of them to, by the end, being successful and highly capable. I also enjoy the small wins. Say I have a student who has a basic understanding of something, but they’ve gotten hung up. I enjoy being able to walk them through that small problem, breaking it down for them to the point when the light bulb just clicks on! Seeing the pride and gratitude they have in themselves for being able to accomplish that small goal have is awesome. That small win allows them to move forward with the drive to be successful in the trade they are trying to learn. I honestly think that’s the best part of teaching.
Do you see yourself teaching long term, or going back out to earn better money?
You do take a pay cut for this type of deal for sure, but I really enjoy it. I keep in touch with a lot of former students that are out there welding and that’s gratifying. I’ll stick with it; I’m not planning on going back out into the field. I truly do enjoy teaching, so as of right now, this is the path that I’m on.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
Here’s one for you. I was born on a military base in Würzburg, Germany. I don’t hold dual citizenship or anything like that. I was only there for about a week!
If you could choose to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be?
Probably one of my buddies who I served with in the Marine Corps. His name is Brendan. He passed away, and I would like to see him again.
Tell us about your family, Jeremy.
My wife Julia and I have been married for nine years, together for twelve. We met right after high school. We have four kids under the age of six, three boys and a girl. We wanted a big family; it just came pretty quickly! It’s pretty wild having four at this age!
If you weren’t a teacher and could do anything with your time, what would you do?
One thing I would like to do, even now, and it still kind of falls under the category of teaching, is to be a guide out west somewhere like northwest Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana—that kind of country. Like an outdoor hunting and fishing guide teaching people. That would be a nice way to earn a living.
If you got an unexpected afternoon off, what would you do?
If it’s a nice day I’d go check my oldest kid, my five-year-old, out of school, get the four-wheelers and dirt bikes out, and go ride! He has a little Honda CRF, a little 50cc bike.
What was your favorite part of the welding industry when you worked in the field?
Just being part of building something. Whether it’s a new construction or a pre-existing plant where I did pipe work during a shutdown, if I ever come across one of those structures, I can look at it and know that my hands, my work, had something to do with that plant being operational. That’s my thing. There’s a lot of pride in that.
What advice do you have for new students considering TWS?
Go all in. Dedicate yourself. Dedicate your time to the program so you can become successful. In the military, we have a saying that goes, “Pain is temporary.” You may endure hardships and struggles between school, work, and outside family life during the seven-month program. But if you can dedicate yourself and deal with those struggles for that short amount of time and put in the effort needed, you can still be successful at the end of the day.
How do you help people deal with those struggles, those distractions?
We have high school graduates come into the program, but the majority of our students are young adults or older adults looking for a career change. They are looking for something else. We recognize that they already have a life on the outside. They have families, a job, things they are struggling with. Then you put a welding program on top of all that. It’s hard. It’s really easy for them to become distracted, to lose their drive and motivation to complete the program.
I just want you to take it a day at a time; put in the effort needed during today’s class to learn something new and leave campus that night better off than when you walked in that morning. If you do that daily, if you can dedicate your time to the program while you’re at the school, if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you will be successful. You will be able to enter the trade that you came here for. Ultimately that’s my mindset, and what I try to share with my students
What was your favorite tool of the trade when you worked in the field?
My favorite tool was my hood and my lens. I used to run some rather expensive glass shade lenses. Your hood is your money maker if you’re a welder.
If you could tell anyone “thank you” for helping you become who you are today, who would that be?
My father. He raised me to have a good work ethic. I had to learn the value of a dollar by not being spoiled in any way. He just taught me how to be successful and support a family, and to have fun while I’m doing it. I learned a lot of lessons from him and feel like I was molded into the man I am today, based off him.