(BRECKENRIDGE, Texas) – Breckenridge High School senior M.T. Heatley does not want to stop studying Welding Technology when he graduates in May.
Heatley plans to continue his education at Texas State Technical College, where he is a dual enrollment student, to pursue an associate degree. He said that will set him up for a brighter future.
“I am working on my certificate and decided that if I was that far, I should continue for the associate,” he said. “I know it will help me in looking for a job.”
TSTC Welding Technology instructor Stephen Hope said he knew Heatley would excel in the program.
“He came in here during his junior year and really took hold of things,” Hope said. “His skills in this trade have grown so much. I knew early on he had a future as a welder.”
Heatley has taken on the role of mentor and wants to see every student do well.
“It feels good to help the younger guys. They are working hard in the lab,” he said. “I want to see them succeed.”
About two dozen Breckenridge High School students are taking dual enrollment welding classes at TSTC. The agreement is seen as a positive for everyone involved, said Breckenridge High School principal William Paul.
“The program is very popular with our students. Just as important is our partnership with the Breckenridge Economic Development Corporation, led by Virgil Moore, who has committed funds to ensure our TSTC student costs are covered,” Paul said. “The BEDC is committed to ensuring we are promoting a skilled workforce within Breckenridge, and we value that.”
The dual enrollment opportunity, according to Paul, is a way for the high school to fulfill its mission of preparing students for life after school.
“Our partnership with TSTC is an extremely important part of achieving that goal as it gives students the opportunity to learn a valuable skill, such as welding,” he said. “Students who enroll in our dual enrollment TSTC welding classes can get a jump-start on a career by earning TSTC dual credit hours prior to graduation and have some of the welding curriculum completed when they graduate.”
Heatley said Hope makes the class experience easy.
“He is very helpful and will make arrangements for any of us,” he said. “Everyone in the class has learned a lot from him.”
Heatley may be one of Hope’s best recruiters at the high school.
“I talked to my cousin, who is a sophomore, and he plans to start the program next year,” he said. “I hope more students begin it. This is something that will change your life.”
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.