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Welding student finds a trade that will provide for her family while she practises her art

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Making a major change in your life can be a scary thing, even when you know it’s for the best. Sometimes it’s fear that keeps us stuck in a rut that we know we need to get out of, sometimes it’s not knowing how to find a way out. For many young parents, the desire to provide a better future for their children pushes them to overcome their apprehension and explore new opportunities.

That’s what it was like for Sarah Nuesch. On her own with three small children, she realized that if she wanted to improve her family’s life, she needed to get a “real job”, and to do that, she was going to have to go back to school.

But the 26-year-old didn’t like the idea of working in an office all day. She’s more of a hands-on kind of person.  Thanks to the Women’s Network PEI’s Trade HERizons career exploration program, Sarah was able to try her hand at a variety of trades and technology programs at Holland College in areas that are traditionally considered to be “men’s work”.

Sarah was first interested in the Wind Turbine Technician program, but when she researched job opportunities in the field, she decided that it wasn’t suited to her and her family situation.

“I found out that most wind turbine technicians are on the road most of the time,” she explains. “That’s not something I wanted to do with three small children at home.”

Then she took a closer look at the college’s Welding Fabrication program, which is located in the Georgetown Centre, and decided to give it a try. Last summer she relocated her family to Montague from Charlottetown, closer to the Georgetown Centre, so that she wouldn’t have to spend time travelling back and forth, and she started the program in September.

“I was so nervous when I started the program,” she recalls. “It was a big change for me, and there seemed to be so much fire, and danger, and heat! “ She laughs now when she compares how she felt only a few months ago to how she feels about welding now.

“I just love it!,” she says.

Last summer she worked at a local welding shop, and really enjoyed it.

“The guys were really great. They teased me a lot, but they teased each other, too.”

She’s finding that it’s the same now that she’s in school, and now she knows what she wants to do with her life.

“ When I’m finished the program, I’d love to have my own fabrication shop; but that’s a long way off.”

Her instructors are pleased to have Sarah in the class.

“Sarah has been working hard developing her skills as a welder here in the Welding Fabrication Program. Her commitment to her trade and to her family has made her a model student in our program. She works hard with the college student union and her classmates to help organize college and program events. This makes a huge difference with our campus atmosphere here in Georgetown. Students with this kind of team spirit and dedication to lifelong learning will be very successful in whatever career pathway they choose,” says Welding Fabrication instructor Craig Boudreau.

Sarah’s taken to the program so well that her instructors have encouraged her to take on outside projects that incorporate the welding skills she’s learning with her interest in stained glass, which she worked with for many years in her mother’s stained glass studio in Victoria, P.E.I.

Craig Boudreau showed her a picture of butterfly-shaped metal chair created by a welding student in the U.S., and suggested that she could build something similar. Sarah’s modified the original design in her own style, including stained glass inserts. As she builds it, she’s learning more about metal work and pattern-making – things that she’ll be able to use both on the job and in her art.

Sarah knows that she’s got a long road ahead of her. The Welding program is two years and seven months long, and then further work and study are required to obtain a red seal credential, but she knows that what she’s doing will benefit her and her children for many years to come.

Her eight-year-old daughter’s already taking her mother’s example to heart.

“She excited,” Sarah says. “It’s nice that she can see that you don’t have to take traditional roles.”

In addition to the butterfly chair, Sarah has been working on a stained glass and metal window for the chapel at The Garden Home, a nursing home in Charlottetown, and a stunning glass and metal sculpture for installation at the front of the Holland College Georgetown Centre.

For Sarah Nuesch, her commitment to giving her children the best upbringing she could has led her down the path to a fulfilling career that will not only provide a stable income for her family, but will also allow her to express her creativity in unique and exciting ways.

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Written by Sara Underwood

November 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

Posted in Students, Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. The Trade HERizons program is a great opportunity to explore careers in trades and technologies.

    I have been following Sarah’s accomplishments, she has great aptitude and that shows in her work, when combined with her attitude and determination she is definately a role model to all, in addition to her family!

    Women have great hand eye co ordination and manual dexterity for fine detail work, welding is certainly a great option as Sarah has proven.

    Sue LeFort

    November 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm


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