I wanted you to know that I still appreciate everything you did for me while I attended your class. That time in my life was a little rocky, and I was always able to look forward to going to school at the Skills Center.

I credit a lot of my accomplishments to attending your class. I wanted to be a welder so badly, and you made me realize it was very possible. It wasn’t just about the cool jobs to me. It was about the prospect of being a woman with a solid career. A women who had a set of valuable job skills, who could take care of herself and not need to depend on any body else to pay my bills.

You got me my first welding job and you opened a lot of doors for me because of that. I now have six years of welding, shipbuilding, pipefitting and fabrication under by belt. And because of that I am a union ironworker, finishing the first year of my apprenticeship. 

I have a long, exciting career ahead of me.

I really got to do some awesome jobs over the last six years. I worked on submarines, aircraft carriers, sub-tenders, destroyers…numerous naval vessels and built a few coastguard boats. I replaced the copper/nickel antenna cooling system all the way up the mast of an aircraft carrier and repaired the sail on the USS San Francisco submarine. 

As an ironworker so far I have helped build the 520 floating bridge pontoons in a couple of different stages of completion, built the structural part of a two story building in Puyallup, and installed crane rails that I helped build inside of Renton Boeing.

I’m telling you this because I want you to know how much I appreciate all of your help and encouragement. Thank you so much for being such a staple in my life at a time when I could have either gone forward successfully or been caught in a rut.

I owe all the staff at the skill center a big thank you for giving someone like me an alternative to regular high school.

Without you, Bela, my life would have been very different. Thank you for your help and thank you for helping me begin my career.