RINCON — Seventeen-year-old Delaney Strause is cutting her career path with a torch.
Strause, set to start her senior year at South Effingham High School next month, is aiming to become a certified welder. She is learning the trade at Savannah Technical College’s Effingham Campus.
“I am the only girl in my class at the moment,” Strause said. “I have been welding since last year in August.”
Before igniting a torch for welding, the dual-enrollment student considered a veterinary career. She changed her mind after discovering that she could become a well-paid welder without piling up massive college debt.
“A lot of people don’t go toward the welding trade anymore,” she said. “Finding younger people who want to go into it is definitely needed. If you don’t go into it, we won’t have people who are going to build our bridges or basic structures that we use everyday.
“Welders will always be needed even if the economy crashes. I don’t think people realize how much they are needed.”
Because of her Savannah Tech training in welding and joining, Strause was recently hired by Aerodynamic Aviation Inc. to deburr (grinding and sanding) parts. She currently works there 32 hours per week. Her employment will be limited to weekends once school starts.
“I didn’t expect to get a chance this fast,” Strause said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity. I love the job.
“I wanted to get (a summer job) in my field and I am fortunate because of how young I am.”
The job greatly expanded her learning environment beyond the walls of her Savannah Tech classroom.
“It’s inspiring to see people who have so much more experience,” she said. “You can learn so much from just talking to them. They can show you so many techniques and you can get ideas to try new things in the pathway.”
Welding instructor Clayton Turner holds Strause in high regard. She is set to become his third female student to return to Savannah Tech after high school graduation to obtain a degree in welding.
“When students do that, they usually go right to work,” Turner said.
“She was fortunate in that she went to work before even getting halfway through the class. That shows a lot of ambition on her part.”
Turner, in his fifth year as a full-time Savannah Tech teacher, said one of his previous female graduates landed a $28-an-hour job right out of high school.
“The job market is real good for welders, fitters, electricians, pipe fitters, machinists,” he said. “There are lots and lots of jobs readily available right here in Effingham County alone.”
The Georgia Department of Labor notes that welding and joining careers will increase by 15 percent or more over the next decade.
Turner believes an employer will get a gem in Strause.
“She is very particular,” he said. “She wants it right every time. It has been my experience throughout my whole career that, when you see a woman in the welding industry, she is usually doing it rather well.
“The same came be said of female students. They seem to pay a lot more attention and they want to get things in the right spot every time.
“It can be a little frustrating — and she fought it for several months — but the light came on when she made that first weld. It’s like hitting your first golf ball. If you ever hit that first good one, you’re hooked and it’s on.
“She’s been that way ever since. Right now, she’s at the top of her class.”
In addition to being a fine welder, Strause is an excellent baker. She routinely shares desserts she made with her Savannah Tech classmates. On Monday, she delivered a blueberry coffee cake.
“I love to bake,” she said.
Strause, however, isn’t going to trade her torch for a mixer.
“Welding is basically my hobby and my passion,” she said. “I want to go through with it in my life because it has inspired me a lot. It showed me things that I didn’t think I was able to do.
“It has been a challenge, but I like a challenge.”
BRIEFLY: The dual-enrollment program allows high school students to take academic degree level core courses that will transfer to any Technical College System of
Georgia or University System of Georgia institution. Students are also allowed to take both diploma level and/or occupational courses. Some students may choose to enroll fully into a degree, diploma or technical certificate of credit program, or they may choose to just take a few courses.
For more information, Effingham County students are encouraged to contact their high school counselor or Shatealy Johnson. Johnson can be reached by phone at 912-443-5347) and be email at email@example.com.