Ryann graduated from the Professional Welder program at Tulsa Welding School, Jacksonville campus, in May 2016. Ryann, a single mom of two, says she gets a lot of questions about why she chose welding school.
“I was raised as a tomboy. My father was a sergeant in the military, so he was very strict. I never played with Barbie Dolls; I played with GI Joe! So welding was a perfect fit for me.”
Her Children are Her Motivation
Ryann moved to Jacksonville in 2015 from Palatka, FL, a small, country town. She had to leave because there were few opportunities there for her to build a career to support her family. She took welding classes at another school where she did torch cutting and plasma cutting.
“Because I’m a single mother with two children, I have to make sure I make the right decisions for them. That’s why I came to Jacksonville. Then, I found Tulsa Welding School. I saw a commercial and thought, “I really want to do this!”
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Ryann wanted something that she could be passionate about- something that she’d be really motivated to finish. She comes from a strong family; her mother works Monday through Friday from 8am till 8pm. Her mom always instilled in Ryann that if you’re able to get something yourself, you’ll never owe anyone. No one can ever hold anything over your head. She wants to also instill that in her kids.
“I made some bad decisions growing up, but I also dealt with the consequences of my decisions as an adult. When I saw the commercial, I knew that was it. I’m going to be a welder. I didn’t take a tour. I just knew that when my kids start school, I’m going to school too and start my career as a welder. And that’s what I did…and the rest is just history! I think it’s something my kids will look up to.”
Why Tulsa Welding School?
One of two sisters, Ryann was raised in a family business – hair & hair products – that lasted over 40 years. She says that’s why she’s very analytical with her choices. Although she didn’t take a tour of the school before enrolling – because she’d already made her mind up – it didn’t mean Ryann didn’t research.
“I try to make the right choices. I hate to be wrong! I chose Tulsa Welding School because it’s truly the best around. There’s no other program like it. I like to do my research, so I talked to a lot of people who went to Tulsa.”
What did she like about the school in particular? Ryann says she loved everything about it!
“From the trainers, to the hard work, to sweating in my leathers, to getting burned – I loved all of it. It’s the atmosphere, the people around you that make it complete. Everyone is always trying to help, whether it’s the instructors, the administration, even my fellow students. It’s just a big family. I loved the instructors; they became part of my family. They’re like my brothers, my fathers, my uncles…”
Instructors That Push You to Succeed
“Some of them push you so hard. They’ll come down on you if you’re a minute late coming back from a break or if they see you walking around when you could be in the booth getting the time in under the hood. They’re constantly on you. It’s almost like parents! I truly loved my instructors! They took the time to repeat, repeat, repeat, anything that we didn’t get or couldn’t quite grasp that first time. They would walk to every booth to check on each and every student. They would take the time out to put their helmet on and weld with us, just so we could get it right. They just want you to do your best! There was no one that I couldn’t go to and ask a question at any time. It’s a complete open-door policy.”
A World of Opportunity
The Career Services department is an important student resource at Tulsa Welding School.
“Career Services are with you 100% of the way. Every day you’re getting emails about job leads. You’re never left alone to go search the internet by yourself; they’re right there. That’s one of the many perks of being a graduate of Tulsa Welding School. Another perk is that I’ll always have the opportunity to come back to any TWS facility and get in that extra practice free of charge.
Before I graduated I started getting offers for jobs… so how could I not be successful? They also have Phase 11, which gives recent graduates and employers a chance to get to know each other and get your skills up to par. They actually gave us a week to weld to the employers’ standards and liking. Not Tulsa Welding School’s liking, the actual employers. After that, it’s almost like a guaranteed job as long as you can do that work, and you can do it precisely how they want it. I know plenty of graduates who got a job right after graduation because they went on to Phase 11 and kicked butt!
What I hear from employers… some of them prefer to hire women because we can get into tight spaces, because we’re so detailed, we like to have things so perfect, and we have little hands! I took a lot of slack about coming here. I just knew I had to prove it to them.”
Money isn’t everything, but we all know how important it is. That’s especially true when you are a single mom with a young family to support.
“What I love about welding is that it gives me a chance to bring out my personality, which is a tomboy. I get to work with hot, molten metal and fire and I love it! But, it can open up lots of doors. Everything I do is based on what’s best for my children. The income of course is number 1. I know people say money is the root of all evil, but without money there’s really not much you can do. When it comes to the money you could earn welding, there are endless possibilities. I’m trying to go where the money’s at, based on my skills and what I’m able to get from a job.”
When I graduated Tulsa Welding School I already had three job offers waiting for me from three very reputable companies. They not only offer great pay, but they also offer a per diem. It’s like a bonus on top of a bonus! It’s all about the money!”
Go Out & Get It, Girl
Ryann believes that opportunities that welding offers women are only limited by self-doubt.
“You can’t be afraid to go out there and get it though; that’s what stops you – you stop you. If you really want to make the kind of money that I’m trying to make, you’ll get out there and you’ll do it. Just don’t slack off. Do your work, put in the hours under the hood, and get it done. Tulsa has given me the foundation I need to be successful in my career and my life. It’s a career that’s going to take me places.”
Being a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry does have challenges. You have to be the kind of woman who gets inspired when people say you can’t do something. You have to be determined.
“I was the only female in my group that started. I had people come up to me and say, “well we’re going to see how long you make it!” Part of the fun was competing with the guys and proving them wrong! I love to be right! I love it when someone tells me I can’t do something, and I know that I can! In your face! It just puts my confidence even higher. It just made me want to push even harder!”
From One Single Mom to Others
“I think Tulsa Welding School is a great opportunity for single moms. Like I said, the school is truly like a family, and if you have any emergency situations to deal with, they are more than willing to work with you. To make sure that you pass, and that you don’t stay behind! That’s why I love this school so much…and I miss it! It is hard, especially when you don’t have a support system, but if I can do it, I know they can do it because many women before me have done it too.”
Now that she’s a certified professional welder, Ryann sees no limits to what she can do for her family.
“I can put my children in the home that they’ve been wanting for over a year now and that’s going to be a proud moment. It’s very important for me; my children depend on me solely for everything. Now, I’m a graduate, and I see the demand that’s out there for welders. I know I can be nothing but prosperous, and at the same time, I know my children are proud of me.
Construction is a tough field. Being a woman in this field is just one more thing that I’m going to have to deal with, but it’s made me stronger. It’s made me able to walk into any room with my head held high, and know that I have the ability to get this job done.”
If you’re a Woman in Welding and would like to share your success and be an inspiration to others, please email [email protected] to be considered for an interview. Please include details such as your full name, your graduation date (month/year) and program name.