Daniel W. had a clear career goal set. SER supplied the resources and encouragement to get him there.
After his adoptive father abandoned his mother, Daniel W. hated seeing his mother struggle. So before starting high school, Daniel dropped out to work to help support the family, including a younger brother and sister.
“I went to work as a janitor at Metro,” said Daniel, “then jobs in construction, plumbing, roofing, painting, and carpentry followed. I’ve always hustled to get jobs, and I took what I could to help my family. Sometimes I had to lie about my age and experience, but once I was hired, I paid attention to what others were doing, so I looked like I knew what I was doing.”
At 18, Daniel found a well-paying job at a welding company and discovered his passion.
“The welding company hired me as a painter/welder, even without training,” said Daniel, “they trained me. So I PICKED IT UP PRETTY QUICKLY because I enjoyed what I was doing. But while I was working, my mom kept bringing up that I needed my GED, so I decided to take her advice.”
Daniel wanted a future in welding, but at 19, he agreed that it was essential to get his GED first. Then, he came across SER’s YouthBuild Program, where 17-24-year-old participants can earn their GED while gaining skills in construction, earning a stipend, and helping to rebuild and repair housing in low-income communities in the Greater Houston area.
“This first week of the class was Mental Toughness,” said Daniel, “I mostly stayed to myself – I’m very observant, and I wanted to see who would make it and who wouldn’t. So I watched who was taking it seriously, so I would know who to get close to.”
“To be honest, at first, it was frustrating because it had been four years since I’d been in school, and I had a lot to learn, but [Instructor] Mr. Sweeny was very patient and cared about us. He made sure we were serious, and I respect him for that.”
During the construction component of the class, Daniel stood out.
“When we worked on rebuilding and repairing houses, a construction company manager saw my hard work and asked me if I wanted a job when I completed YouthBuild,” said Daniel, “but I didn’t take that offer because I had my mind set on welding. However, I enjoyed it in the past and believe it has the potential to play well.”
After obtaining his GED, Daniel’s career coach helped him develop an action plan.
“[She] helped me get a scholarship to Industrial Welding Academy. I took two classes and plan to take the third class soon. During that time, I also took a position at La Chamba for four months while I went to school at night.”
“After welding academy, I was able to get a job in the industry, and I am so thankful. Now I’m well paid, I appreciate my job, and I feel that they appreciate me.”
At age 20, Daniel is happily settling into his new life as a welder and a family man.
“I met a great girl here at SER who is now my fiancée,” said Daniel, “she also took classes at the welding academy. We’ve been together five months now, and I’m ready to settle down. She was part of a package deal, and I love being a dad to our two-year-old son. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for SER. I have a lot to be thankful for.”