CHILLICOTHE— Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center senior Gwendolyn Strausbaugh will be able to attend her new job at Prime Equipment in Columbus thanks to the help of her community and peers.
When offered the job at Prime Equipment Strausbaugh had no car or driver’s license. Due to this, she thought she would have to turn down the job. Luckily the people around her helped to make sure she was able to accept.
When Allen Koker, Pickaway-Ross job placement coordinator, heard of Strausbaugh’s predicament he knew he wanted to help.
“She’s one of the best welders in the class,” said Koker.
After working with Ralph Letsche from Letsche’s Auto Sales in Chillicothe they were able to get a car for Strausbaugh that was within her budget. Strausbaugh had been saving money by working at a fast-food restaurant part-time but she was having difficulties finding a car within her budget.
“I love it so much,” said Strausbaugh of her car. “I already have decorations, like a steering wheel cover, for it and everything.”
When it was purchased the car had 155,000 miles on it. The Pickaway-Ross automotive lab looked at the car and determined the car needed new brakes, a radiator hose and belts in order to be safe. Danny Morris, Pickaway-Ross Outdoor Power Technologies instructor, and his students were able to fix the car after several staff members pitched in to buy the needed parts.
“A lot of us instructors if we see a kid struggling we are going to help them,” said Morris.
Strausbaugh credits the Pickaway-Ross school for much of her success in her field.
“I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do with my life if not for Pickaway-Ross,” said Strausbaugh. “They showed me so many opportunities.”
The Pickaway-Ross welding program teaches students basic welding techniques and helps them to become certified welders. She originally chose to go into welding because of the pay but quickly fell in love with it.
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now,” said Strausbaugh.
Prime Equipment is a US-based manufacturer that produces poultry processing equipment. They have also recently hired three of Strausbaugh’s classmates from Pickaway-Ross. Doug Buckler, fabrication lead at Prime Equipment, wants to continue to hire young people to teach them and pass down knowledge.
“It benefits them and me,” said Buckler. “In a year they will be able to do anything new do here, in two years I could send them to any job and they could do it.”
Buckler is a vocational school graduate who enjoys partnering with vocational schools to hire students.
“Students that come from vocational schools are passionate and hungry to learn,” said Buckler.
Since Strausbaugh has completed all of her academic classes she will be working full time for Prime Equipment.
Shelby Reeves is a reporter for the Chillicothe Gazette. You can email her at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Chillicothe Gazette: Community comes together to help local student