Welding to secure the future
SEV student graduates high school, Iowa Central simultaneously
LEHIGH — A girl from Lehigh has taken an unconventional approach to her education, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Sue Ellen M. Linn, 17, is set to graduate from Iowa Central Community College’s welding program on Friday.
She will graduate from Southeast Valley High School on May 21.
Linn was able to finish her high school education in conjunction with a college program because of the dual credits she racked up during the last three years of high school. As a result, she is ending her high school education and a welding program through Iowa Central simultaneously.
“They call it dual enrollment,” Linn said. “I had all my junior and senior classes done after my junior year.”
Linn drove from Lehigh to Fort Dodge each day for the 2016-17 school year. She was still considered a Southeast Valley student and participated in high school events, such as prom.
“I am considered a full-time student at both schools,” she said.
The welding program through Iowa Central is a one-year program. Linn is one of three girls in her welding class. About 30 students are enrolled in the program, she said.
The girls that are enrolled, are there to work.
“It’s very male-oriented,” she said. “But the girls that end up in it are there to learn.”
The instructors at Iowa Central treat boys and girls the same, she said.
“All of the instructors have been really good at working with me,” Linn said.
Her father, Doug Linn, agreed.
“What I was impressed with was they didn’t favor the girls,” he said. “She has to do what’s expected of her.”
Through her education, Sue Linn has learned three types of welding techniques: stick, wire and TIG. Her favorite is the more complex of the three.
“I like TIG,” she said. “It’s more difficult because it involves using both of your hands and your foot.”
Welding puts her in touch with her creative side, she said.
“It’s very creative. You can make sculptures. It’s very diverse. There’s so many things you can use welding for.”
Her favorite project is a bench she welded at Iowa Central. She worked on it in a class called Advanced Fabrication.
“It took me about three weeks,” she said. “There is a lot of bends in it more than anything.”
She did all the welding herself. Iowa Central then had the bench powder coated and made a plasma cut for the design that she created. The art is on the back of the bench.
Doug Linn said his daughter has been interested in shop since she was young.
“She has been around tractors and cars, you name it, all of her life,” he said.
He admits she has already learned more than him.
“I went to school for auto body and she has already blown me out of the water,” he said. “It didn’t take long, and it’s because of her education.”
The path Sue Linn took can be achieved by other high school students if they choose.
Her mother, Sandy Linn, said students have a lot of options available to them.
“I don’t think a lot of parents know about all the options,” she said. “She’s a good example of what students can do.”
Although Sue Linn could likely find work with the education she has gotten, she’s not done yet. She plans to earn her associate’s degree in industrial business through Iowa Central.
She is projected to finish that at age 19.
“I told her she has to get her associate’s degree,” her mother said. “To teach welding you have to have an associate’s degree.”
Sue Linn’s dream job is to weld for Union Pacific Railroad Co.
“Part of the reason I want to go there is because they are female-friendly,” she said.
Doug Linn said his daughter was inspired after meeting some women who currently weld for Union Pacific.
“As a family, we have always loved trains,” he said.
In the summer, the new graduate is scheduled to take robotic welding, blueprint reading, human relations, and introduction to computers.
Her advice to younger high school students is simple.
“If you put your mind to it you can do things that you don’t think are possible.”