At first glance, Annie Henderson doesn’t fit the mold of the typical Grayson College welding student. An artist by nature and, as Henderson herself admits not the typical college-student demographic, she has nonetheless found a home inside GC’s new South Tech Center. It is here in this 18,000 square foot facility that tens of thousands of dollars of brand-spanking new equipment, welding stations and enclosed work booths greet those students who wish to learn the art of welding.
And it is an art the college is full-in on as it opened up summer registration for the program on April 1.
An artist is always on the lookout for new canvas and Henderson found hers in steel and heat. Two years ago, the Pottsboro resident was taking ceramics classes at GC’s north campus when she took a tour of the welding facilities.
“I have always loved metal and always wanted to do metal sculpture,” said Henderson, who enrolled in a basic welding class and progressed from there.
Her time in the program has resulted in a boon for some worthwhile charities, including Special Olympics. Henderson was part of a metal project that ended up raising $2,000 at the Cedar Mills Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser at Lake Texoma. Her latest work is a 500-plus pound steel table with an acid patina rendering of Lake Texoma running through it that she completed with fellow student Douglas Hansen. That project raised another $4,000 for charity at the same auction. Henderson credited the college with giving her the foundation she needed to get it done and her fellow students who would take time after class to help her along the way.
“They gave us the room and the encouragement and support and help,” said Henderson as she applied a final coat of hard wax on her table.
“The thing that I appreciate so much is that, I’m not 20 anymore…and there is a lot of support for my success. All the instructors really helped me,” added Henderson. “I almost quit three times; when I had to weld upside down and molten steel was hitting me, I got kind of scared. They all were so supportive of, first of all having women in the program and also letting me explore my artistic projects. I will always be so grateful of how open they were to support me as I learned a whole new world.”
Josh Williams is the other side of the coin. Having worked in industrial construction for 10 years before enrolling in the GC welding program he knew his way around a TIG welder. According to Williams, he had been traveling the country for the past decade building power plants and ethanol plants. When he and his family decided to relocate to Anna he enrolled in the welding program to get his certificates. Williams has enjoyed his time at the college and in the program so much that he is set to graduate in May and will serve as an adjunct professor for the summer program. He said he was impressed with the program and the new facility, which was built with funding provided by Grayson College ($2 million) and a matching grant funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration.
“This is a great facility; everything is state-of-the-art and brand new,” said Williams as he pointed out a welding station that can accommodate eight students at the same time.
For those wanting to enroll in the summer program, registration is open for the Summer 1 session which runs from June 9 through July 31. For more information on registration visit the south campus at 1455 W. Van Alstyne Pkwy., between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.