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Jessica Butler

Jessica Butler Welding & Fabrication Grad Got Her Start in JVS Freshmen Program

Jessica Butler, Welding & Fabrication, Class of: 2013
Benjamin Franklin said: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn."

The Lorain County JVS is all about involving junior and senior students, turning their interests into life-fulfilling careers through a diverse selection of two year technical and college prep programs.

But asking a child to choose a career is like trying to select your favorite ice cream - you won't know until you've tried them!

Which is why the JVS has expanded programs and options for freshmen and sophomores, who explore their interests through the JVS Career Readiness Lab and Career Exploration programs.

When the 9th and 10th grade programs were first developed they introduced ninth and tenth graders to a variety of career-technical programs such as welding, electricity and carpentry. Options for students have been expanded this year to appeal to a different interest level and include the Web and Graphic Design and Culinary Arts programs, to name a few. Experiencing the hands-on training related to these careers and spending time in the actual JVS program as tenth graders helps students make informed choices; choices about the program they are going to devote two years to and about the career field they will ultimately enter.

This process worked well for Jessica Butler, who participated in the Career Readiness Lab and Career Exploration programs and decided to become a welder.

"I had no idea what I wanted to pursue, I just knew that I wanted to be different," said Butler, who graduated from the JVS Welding and Fabrication program in 2013 and is a certified welder at Blue Arc Design in Elyria. "I enjoy working with my hands, I'm not afraid of dirt."

Butler said that she worried about being among older JVS students after enrolling and almost changed her mind, but her father insisted she stay the course.

"I'm very shy, I was worried about fitting in," Butler said. "But Career Readiness Instructor Eric Robson was very kind. We hit it off. He got me to open up and he was so good at explaining everything about carpentry, electricity and welding. I made lots of new friends, too."

Butler spent nine weeks in the Welding, Industrial Electricity and Law Enforcement labs her sophomore year before choosing the Welding and Fabrication Program for her two-year, career-technical program, and ultimately welding for her career.

"Welding requires skill and lots of practice, but I have steady hands and was naturally good at it," said Butler. "It also involves getting burned a lot, even though I'm protected head to toe. It is difficult, but I've always enjoyed a good challenge."

Which is exactly what instructor Mark Schreiber gave Butler.

"I missed the first day of class, which didn't sit well with Mr. Schreiber," she said. "He told me that either I take this lab seriously or don't bother coming back. He scared me a little. But I realized he had my best interests at heart."

Along with the skills she learned from Mr. Schreiber, Butler credits the preparation she received in the Career Readiness Lab and Career Exploration Program for helping her secure a job at an Elyria manufacturing company during her junior year in the Welding and Fabrication program.

"I think because I had that 'jump start' in 9th and 10th grade, I already had tools that other juniors were just learning, so I was ahead of the curve," said Butler.

She landed a paid summer internship at Blue Arc Design, which led to full time employment at the Elyria custom metal fabricating company after graduation.

"I'm involved in lots of different assignments and projects, doing welding, fabricating and plasma cutting," Butler said.

Butler, 21, is currently the only woman welder at Blue Arc Design. But her male co-workers do not intimidate her.

"My boss has my back. He makes sure that nobody messes with me," said Butler, laughing. "Seriously, they saw my potential; I look forward to work every day."

Butler is also optimistic about her future.

"There's opportunity to advance," said Butler, who currently supervises newly hired welders and is interested in becoming a foreman.

Butler said that her four years at the JVS prepared her well for her welding career.

"I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without the JVS," said Butler, who competed in SkillsUSA competitions throughout her high school career. She earned a 2nd Place medal in the state competition as she showcased her skills in Stick, Mig, and Tig welding.

Butler said that she keeps in contact with her JVS instructors and welcomes the opportunity to share her learning experience with new students entering the Career Readiness Lab and Career Exploration Program.

"I know their perspective, what they're going through," she said. "I'm grateful for the guidance that led me to my career choice at such a young age. The JVS prepared me well for the real world. I love that place."
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The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs and activities, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. © 2023. The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District. All Rights Reserved.