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How one local student got a high school degree and Gateway college degree in one swoop
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How one local student got a high school degree and Gateway college degree in one swoop

Jacob Allender graduated from Waterford High School this spring — after graduating from Gateway Technical College with a welding diploma.

Not only did Jacob earn diplomas from high school and college in the same month, but he also landed a job in his career field in the middle of a pandemic and before he even took part in his college commencement ceremony. And, all in the double-double year of 2020.

Jacob earned his diploma through a Gateway high school welding academy, a program which provides high school students the training and education to earn their welding/maintenance & fabrication technical diploma and enter a welding career. He says he initially signed up for the academy because he likes to build things — but found out he really liked it once he started to weld.

“Really, just the thought of welding, of building, sparked my interest,” says Jacob. “As soon as I started welding, I fell in love with it.”

Jacob says the training he received was solid and helped him to obtain his welding position before he even graduated.

“For me, this feels awesome. Not a lot of people can say they earned their high school and college diploma at the same time. It’s awesome that I already have a job in my career while people I know are still going to college. It’s pretty nice.”

Jacob’s mother, Michelle Allender, said the academy left a solid impression on Jacob and his future goals.

“For Jacob, this was a game-changer,” says Michelle. “He didn’t know anything about welding, but he connected with his instructors right away, he knew some of the students who were from his high school and he was able to do his work on a technical college campus. I can’t say enough on how well he has done with this.”

The skills Jacob gained at Gateway, coupled with his work experience, have helped him to gain an apprentice to a local Boilermaker’s union.

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