Welding program leads Southside graduates to career path

A photo of Jay Tee Young and Zack Groves

Neither Zack Groves nor Jay Tee Young intended to become a welder, but when they discovered the welding program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, it turned out to be a perfect fit for both of the Southside High School graduates.

Young, who graduated from Southside in 2010, originally came to UACCB in pursuit of a business degree. He was only a few classes away from earning an associate’s degree when he took his first welding course.

“Welding kind of fell into my lap. I love working with my hands, so I took Welding I, and I’ve never looked back,” Young said.

Groves took welding courses as a concurrent student. He graduated from Southside in May and also earned his technical certificate in welding from UACCB.

“I started taking classes in the 10th grade. At the time, I didn’t really care about going to college. I couldn’t see myself after high school. But now I have several college credit hours under my belt. It’s definitely different to take college classes while you’re in high school. I had to make small sacrifices along the way,” Groves said.

Young said concurrent courses were a great opportunity for high school students. “They didn’t offer concurrent courses when I was in high school. I would have loved that chance. I got a job after I took my first two welding courses, so I stopped there. I didn’t think I needed any more training, but soon I maxed out at my job. I realized I needed to come back and get my certificate. With that, the possibilities are endless,” he said. “I’ve been working at Bad Boy Mowers for two years, and I’m ready to take my skills farther.”

Young added that his instructors provided him with the guidance and motivation to continue to pursue his degree.

“I really enjoy my instructor Danny Ramsey. He is a true master in this field, and he’s been a real mentor to me. There were times when I wanted to quit, but he encouraged me to work through my frustrations and keep going to reach the reward on the other side of that frustration,” Young said.

Looking to the future, Groves plans to work as a welder while he continues his education. Young said he hopes to work as a pipeline welder in the future. He encouraged students to take welding or other industrial technology courses even if they are not part of their major requirements.

“Everyone has to take electives. Why not take welding? Don’t leave any stone unturned when one course could change your life,” Young said.

Groves challenged his high school classmates to continue to pursue their education after graduation. “You can’t make a living without some type of education. Success is a lot of small things done right. It doesn’t happen overnight. I challenge you to give it a shot and do your best.”