Welder turns STEM student to pursue passion

Ross GleasonRoss Gleason, a 2009 Centralia High School graduate, is enjoying his experiences at Centralia College while letting his passion drive his college education. While still in high school, he took welding classes as part of the Tech Prep program offered through Centralia College. He was learning a great trade skill and earning college credits that applied toward his first college degree.

After graduating from high school, Gleason continued on at Centralia College where, within one year, he completed training for his welding degree. Armed with that he could have entered the workforce with skills that would serve him well. But that wasn’t enough and it certainly didn’t alter his career goal.

Gleason then came back to Centralia College as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) student and is working toward his degree in biology.

“Wildlife biology is my passion. I really want to be a biologist and possibly work in wildlife and fisheries,” Gleason said. Centralia College is a great place to lay the foundation in that field.

But why welding? Primarily it was because of Tech Prep. His summer work with a construction company also played a part. “I started working (in construction) with a buddy washing trucks and have worked there every summer since. After receiving my ATA (Associate in Technical Arts) in welding, I’ve stepped up from washing trucks to welding for them.”

He proved to be a very adept welder. “I was active in our Skills USA club at the high school and competed on the regional level in welding skills. I didn’t quite make it to the state competition, but I was close.”

His focus now is on biology and the education he needs to help him fulfill his career dreams. “In today’s society, to even be considered for higher level positions, you have to have secondary education. Plus, the connections you make with other students and faculty create a support network for the future.”

“Here at Centralia College the faculty is willing to help me in any way necessary, whether it be academic or non-academic questions I might have. I would like to thank Dr. Jody Peterson, my advisor for Phi Theta Kappa, and Dr. Steve Norton, who is a fish biologist, for all the encouragement they have given me. And, Teresa Ireton, my English teacher makes English class more fun than it should be!”

Gleason also appreciates some of the other characteristics of Centralia College.

“Compared to big universities you get more one-on-one time with the professors, which is a key asset to success. I didn’t know until I started attending classes at Centralia College that it offers such great educational programs. I found out that we have quality instructors who have chosen to teach at Centralia College.”

Gleason also believes he’s getting some great training and opportunities in leadership. He is president of the PTK, the college honor society, and one of the society’s projects this year is to help raise money for a fallen officers memorial. He serves part-time as a math tutor and works with the Associated Students of Centralia College on a variety of projects.

“Being involved in these activities on campus allowed me to interact with lots of successful people in the community. I am able to see what skills and attributes made them successful and I’m striving to have those same attributes and skills,” Gleason said.

Centralia College is a great school. It gives students every opportunity to succeed—helpful staff, programs like math and the writing center, lots of extracurricular opportunities, and quality facilities. The science center is amazing! Tuition is affordable. I would recommend Centralia College to others. Choosing to further my education at Centralia College is the best decision I ever made!”

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