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VC Gonzales Center welding student pursuing career in U.S. Navy

Denise Sanchez plans on a career in the U.S. Navy after finishing her welding class at Victoria College’s Gonzales Center.

Denise Sanchez prefers wearing a welding helmet over medical scrubs.

Sanchez’s parents wanted her to pursue a career in the healthcare field, but the 2020 Gonzales High School graduate had plans of her own. The 18-year-old recently began the Welding Level 2 class at Victoria College’s Gonzales Center with the goal of taking her skills to the U.S. Navy.

“I respect my friends who want to work in the medical and healthcare professions, but I didn’t want to do that,” Sanchez said. “I’m kind of the black sheep in the family. I want to do something exciting.”

Sanchez participated in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Program her final two years at Gonzales High School, and she initially wanted to pursue a career in the navy as a mechanical engineer.

“A friend told me, ‘You’re going to hate that,” Sanchez said. “He told me I needed to try the high school welding class instead.”

Sanchez heeded her friend’s advice and found she had a passion for welding.

“I got to play with fire,” Sanchez said with a grin.

Sanchez completed the Core Curriculum: Introductory Craft Skills and Welding Level 1 classes last fall at VC’s Gonzales Center. She was impressed with VC’s state-of-the-art training equipment.

“The college class was nothing like what I expected,” Sanchez said. “You learn so much more about different welding methods at this level.”

Mike Wilson, welding instructor at VC’s Gonzales Center, said he has seen more women entering the traditionally male-dominated welding profession.

“The women in our program demonstrate the attention to detail, patience and steadiness of hand that every welder needs to be successful,” said Wilson, who has worked in the industry for 35 years.

Sanchez plans to hone her skills more by taking the Welding Level 3 class at VC before enlisting in the navy. She believes a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) certificate will enhance her chances of fulfilling her dream occupation.

“I believe I could go in right now and be an officer right off the bat because of my experience in the NJROTC,” Sanchez said. “But I will also have the experience from these welding classes to my advantage.”

Victoria College offers three levels of welding classes in Victoria and Gonzales. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

For more information on Victoria College’s welding classes and other industrial trades training, call (361) 582-2528 or email AskCE@VictoriaCollege.edu.