Welding and Agriculture often go hand-in-hand and Senior Brayden Blea has found his career calling in welding and learned valuable life and leadership skills through the Oasis Future Farmers of America program.
Blea has been attending Oasis for the last six years and to say he values the connections and lifelong friendships he has made at school would be an understatement. “One of my favorite memories was when I made the switch to Oasis and met some of my best friends. JayLee McEwen, Josh Youles, Logan Johnson, and Gabby Hockenberry Grimes, we’ve all grown in so many ways. We always have had each other’s backs through everything. I’m glad that they accepted me and brought me in when I did not know anyone else.” he explains.
The dual enrollment program with Western Nevada College helped Blea discover his love for welding. He also met a mentor and friend through the program. “I’d like to thank Welding Instructor Jorgen “Jepp” Jeppesen for always telling me I was capable of more even when I thought I was doing my best. He helped me realize my potential and how to use all of my abilities! He taught me how to weld, when I went into that class knowing nothing about the subject.”
Through Jepp’s guidance Blea has earned certifications through the American Welding Society and will continue his welding career by attending Western Welding Academy in Gillette, Wyoming. There he will train to be a pipefitter or boilermaker and learn the basics to become a rig welder.
“I’m truly glad to call him my teacher. He’s someone I can look up to and call my friend. He really strived for me to be my best and produce the work he knew I was capable of doing. I can’t thank him enough for that.” continues Blea.
The Oasis FFA Program has also played an important role in Blea’s education. Involved in the program since his freshman year, he has developed essential leadership skills. He thanks Ag teacher and FFA Advisor Ms. Jackie Bogdanowicz for this.
“I learned so much in Ag and FFA, had so many laughs, and most importantly had the best teacher ever. I truly don’t think I’d be the person I am today without Ms. B’s guidance. She really pushed me into a lot of things and I’m glad she did. When I started in her class I was this quiet kid that would barely say anything. She taught me how to step out of my comfort zone and the importance of agriculture.”
Blea continues, “I’ve learned great leadership skills and interpersonal skills also. Ms. B encouraged me to run for an office last year and I was elected Chapter Secretary. With her continued encouragement I’m now the Oasis FFA Chapter President.”
He has advice for future students as well. “Don’t give up. I wanted to do nothing but give up after my first semester, because no matter how hard I tried I felt like I wasn’t doing good enough. I put my head down and stuck through it though and after that first semester, it got to be a breeze. So if you ever lose confidence in yourself during your first semester just calm down and keep pushing. You will buckle down, figure it out and get through it.”
In May, Blea will be graduating with both his High School Diploma and Associates in Applied Science in Welding through Western Nevada College.