Graduate Makes Sparks Fly in New Career

Whitney Kendrick

Whitney Kendrick was looking for a new career when she came to Montgomery Community College. After being laid off from her job, she decided to try a trade – something she could do working with her hands.

“I wanted a skill that I knew I could be really good at and proud to take with me wherever I went,” said Whitney.
Whitney chose welding. Although it’s a predominantly male field, she didn’t give that a second thought.
“The field is wide open and there will always be jobs,” she said. The added bonus was that the class was entirely hands-on.
“I don’t like sitting in a classroom. I like things you can use steady hands for. It’s like putting on makeup,” she said.
The guys might not like the idea of welding being compared to putting on makeup, but the need for steady hands is accurate. Her instructor, Chuck Davis, told Whitney she was going to make a good TIG welder because of her ability to keep a steady hand. It turns out he was right. Whitney now has two TIG certifications and works full-time at K-M Machine in Biscoe.
“On my job I do primarily MIG welding but my boss tells me I’m the best MIG welder he’s got,” she said.
Whitney wasn’t always so confident, however. At first, she found welding frustrating.
“Everything I did looked horrible. I’m a perfectionist and I wanted things to be just right. You’ve got to hold the torch at a certain angle at a certain speed. You have to hold your hands steady for a long time. Until you build muscle memory, it’s tiring,” she said.
The class worked on various projects and once a project was completed, Whitney said it gave her the confidence to keep going. In addition, she said there was not a lot of pressure. The instructor made the concepts easy to understand, and was very helpful and patient.
“It wasn’t intimidating or overwhelming. Chuck made it simple,” she said.
Recently she was asked to talk to several groups of high school girls about career paths that are traditionally male-dominated. The girls were very interested in hearing Whitney’s story.
“Anything girls want to do, they can do,” Whitney said. “Show me something you think I can’t do, and I will do it, and I will do it better than you,” she said. It’s this attitude that kept her going, and helped her reach her goals.
“Just because you’re female doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” she said.
Whitney says she loves welding and can’t imagine doing anything else. Although she is now pregnant with her second child, she says she plans on working as long as she can.
“Taking Welding at Montgomery Community College was a wonderful experience and a great accomplishment. There isn’t anything Chuck Davis, our instructor, can’t do. He doesn’t mind helping you and working with you one-on-one,” Whitney said.

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