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Lily Bedwell doesn’t shy away from a challenge, so when she was told to shoulder 300 pounds of rebar, she marched right up to the pile and did what needed to be done. “I wasn’t the only one who needed help hoisting it,” she said. Many view Bedwell’s career choice as non-traditional, a term used to describe career paths commonly sought by one gender.  When asked if she found that term troubling, she said “I don’t find it offensive at all. I instead respond with positivity and stay motivated.” Having a minority status in her pre-apprenticeship class at Local 396 Iron Workers is clearly not going to be a problem for Bedwell.

Bedwell graduated from South Tech’s Welding program in 2017, then applied for and was accepted to Local 396 in June.  She chose to pursue this career because she enjoys the work, she is excited about earning money while she is training, and because the skills she will learn are in demand all over the world. “I’m going to see as much of this planet as possible,” she said. After completing training, her prospects are outstanding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster than average growth in this profession that will help rebuild an aging infrastructure in the United States and abroad and young women in the trades are more likely to be hired as firms strive to embrace diversity.

Bedwell will start her traveling a bit earlier than her fellow students as she was chosen to participate in a special 3-week course specifically for women in construction.  The 180-hour course will take place in Benicia, California and include mentoring on a large portion of the pre-apprenticeship curriculum. Bedwell’s current employer, Hollyberry Catering, has allowed her to take time off for the conference.  Bedwell supports herself by working full time for Hollyberry while attending her pre-apprenticeship class from 6 pm to 10 pm each night. To help cover her expenses during her work hiatus to attend the conference, Bedwell’s mom has established a Go Fund Me account at https://www.gofundme.com/HelpkickstartLily-snextchapter.  At last check, the fund is short of its goal only a few hundred dollars short of its goal. Once the pre-apprenticeship course concludes, Bedwell hopes to begin her paid apprenticeship in September.

Bedwell is thrilled with her experience so far, as was evident when she recently visited with students in the welding program.  She shared information about how others can apply for apprenticeship programs along with her experiences thus far in the pre-apprenticeship course.  The challenges she will face would be discouraging for some, but Bedwell views them as fuel to energize her natural “I’ll show you” attitude. “You are the creator of your own destiny,” she said.  With such determination and dedication, we will certainly be hearing future stories about her success!

Welding Skills Pay Off for South Tech Graduate
Aaron Dunse, a Parkway South Alumni and a 2013 graduate from South Tech, stopped by to visit to his former instructor Mr. Holt.
Aaron Dunse, a Parkway South Alumni and a 2013 graduate from South Tech, stopped by to visit to his former instructor Mr. Holt.

Aaron Dunse, a Parkway South Alumni and a 2013 graduate of South Tech, stopped by on Thursday, December 1st, to pay a visit to his former instructor Mr. Holt and show off his weekly paychecks. On average Aaron grosses $5300 per week and clears roughly $3500 per week. In the past 5 months, he has grossed over 70,000 dollars!

Aaron started making this shortly after graduating from the Missouri Welding Institute when he became employed by JV Industrial Company which is based out of Texas. Aaron is a specialized pipe welder and he travels the countryside working in power plants and oil refineries during their shutdown periods. Aaron enjoys what he does and possesses a skill that is highly sought after in this industry.

Aaron told Mr. Holt…

I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for the welding class at Tech. I am very thankful I made the decision to choose this career path.

Aaron’s advice to students considering South Tech would be…

…if you’re going to do it, put forth everything you have.

South Tech alumnae Mirela Mujakic was recently spotted on Fox 32 Chicago, sharing the latest hair styling trends for spring! She started climbing her career ladder as a South Tech Cosmetology student in 2011. Her passion for this field and dedication to learning have resulted in a fast track to success.

Mujakic knew she had discovered her career path while still in high school. She was accepted to South Tech’s program and determined to earn her cosmetology license upon graduation. When she learned her family would be moving to Illinois, she feared she would not be able to continue her training in high school as so few districts offer this unique opportunity. “Most of the schools in the Chicago area required a high school diploma (to begin attending),” she said, “but Mrs. Langhorst actually found a school for me and ensured that my credits would even transfer,” she said. Mujakic was able to earn both her diploma and license, then quickly begin her career with Supercuts (owned by Regis) in 2013. At age 17, she was the youngest stylist in the company.

Robyn Langhorst, Cosmetology instructor, isn’t the least surprised that Mujakic is so successful. “She was always so willing to learn…like a sponge,” Langhorst said of Mujakic, “I just loved having her as a student.”

Currently serving as a Senior District Manager and overseeing 8 northwest Illinois salons, Mujakic has remained with Supercuts. She has served as a salon leader, district leader, and a brand ambassador for media and cosmetology education. Her commitment to Supercuts was based on solid research she did during high school regarding company benefits, education opportunities, and growth potential.

“Tech was the best opportunity to get a jump start on my career,” Mujakic said about her time at South Tech. “I was so thankful for the tech team for helping me continue to pursue my dream career.”

To see Mujakic on Fox 32, click here: https://goo.gl/5ChwN1.

To learn more about our Cosmetology program and how to apply, click here: http://southtechnical.org/programs/.

South Tech Culinary Alumnus Excels at Oaklawn

Cooking 75,000 pounds of corned beef in 54 days may sound daunting to some, but not Will Green. The 2013 South Tech Culinary Arts graduate recently became the Executive Sous Chef of Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas and prepping for the racing season is just one of his many duties in this exciting and demanding job.

In his new role, Green supervises 8 dining rooms, 7 kitchens, and 29 concession stands in support of Oaklawn’s operations. In addition to hosting racing season, Oaklawn is a year-round racing and gaming entertainment complex with a casino, gaming rooms, private dining and parties, and special marketing events. Executive Sous Chef’s report directly to the Executive Chef and supervise all aspects of dining. They manage staff, place food and beverage orders, plan menus, and ensure all health and safety standards are met. Green is prepared, as he has been training for this responsibility since he was in high school.

After graduation from South Tech, Green studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. His training there included a select internship at Walt Disney World’s Five Diamond Award winning restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s in the Grand Floridian Resort. “My Disney experience was incredible! I learned so much more than I could have ever hoped! I really learned a lot of discipline and a lot of great skills and techniques while I was there,” said Green. He also met my wife, Lauren, while interning and they returned to the resort to marry last year.

After graduating from college, Green returned to St. Louis and worked for Truffles in Ladue, but transferred to Oaklawn in June of 2015 to be closer to his fiancé. Green started as a Kitchen Manager for Oaklawn’s main production kitchen and quickly rose through the ranks.

Green loves the challenges of his job and appreciates that everyday he has something new to manage. “I am very fortunate to get to work with an amazing team. I work under an amazing Executive Chef who is an encyclopedia of knowledge. He has taught me so much about leading a staff and managing a large number of people,” said Green. He credits the “awesome team of supervisors that work under us” for keeping the operation running smoothly.

Green appreciates the generous company that has allowed him to embrace such a demanding and critical role early in his career. “I’m very fortunate to work for an incredible company for a great family that fosters an environment for career growth and learning,” he said.

Learn more about the great opportunities in South Tech’s Culinary Arts major here: http://southtechnical.org/programs/

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