Growing up in Ohio, Dean of Liberal Arts Jill Channing knew the value of hard work from an early age. Her father, James Channing, earned his welding certification during his junior year of vocational high school. Her family is third generation steel mill workers, where Mr. Channing is a maintenance welder. “The reason I wanted to start this scholarship and put it in his name is because of the quality of life that it gave him and his family,” Channing said.
She wanted to give students something that would sustain them throughout their lives. There is a high demand for welders—“at my last college, we could not keep welders. They would take some classes and they would get hired away and it would affect our completion, so I saw it as an excellent career choice for people to pursue,” she added.
Channing lets her father choose who receives the award; one of the criteria for this scholarship is preference for a woman pursuing a degree in welding. There are lots of opportunities for high paying welding jobs, which are not jobs women traditionally seek out, but Channing would like to see more women seek out trade careers where they can make good amounts of money and have secure employment to support themselves and their families.
As someone who has received scholarships and fellowships throughout her educational career, Channing hopes the scholarship’s recipients will feel more accountable to do well. She hopes knowing they have this funding backing them will “encourage them to put forth their best effort and give it their all, knowing they have support behind them and demonstrate what they can really do,” Channing said.
Channing and her partner, Alison Maddux, hope to accumulate enough funds in the next several years to get the scholarship to endowment status and are asking for donations in lieu of gifts at their June 23 wedding. Channing believes there will always be a need for skilled laborers who need to think critically and creatively, and welders are no exception. Because of this, there will always be a need for funds to support students who want to pursue degrees within these skilled trades.
“My other hope would be that we get more women to pursue degrees in welding and other skilled trades,” Channing said.
“It’s a matter of education; we’re going against a societal type of trend, what’s considered women’s work, what’s considered men’s work. You have to dislodge those stereotypes from peoples’ minds and that’s a larger cultural and societal type of mindset we have to work on changing and educating students that these are viable careers for women,” she added.
In Channing’s mind, her dad is the hardest working person she’s ever met in her life. Being a maintenance welder is a seven day per week job. Additionally, for five years when she was young, he worked forty hours a week at the same steel mill as both of her grandfathers, meaning he worked two jobs—one at forty hours per week and another at seven days per week—to support his family.
“His work ethic is really inspiring to me and has helped me throughout my life. My parents couldn’t necessarily help me with academics, but they taught me to have a good work ethic. I almost see that as more valuable than if they taught me how to write a paper or do algebra because I can apply that work ethic to being able to accomplish other things,” Channing said.
By offering this scholarship, Channing hopes to instill some of her father’s work ethic in the students who receive it by providing them with the motivation to pursue a meaningful career in welding, something that will sustain them for a lifetime and allow them to support themselves and their families.
For information about the James Channing Welding Scholarship or other scholarships, contact the TMCC Foundation at 775-674-7648.