Workshops for Warriors Honors 38 Newly Certified Machininists, Welders at Fall 2019 Graduation Ceremony
Local dignitaries, families and supporters of Workshops for Warriors gathered at the school’s San Diego campus on Friday, Dec. 13 for the Fall 2019 graduation honoring 38 new alumni now prepared to put their skills to use in advanced manufacturing careers.
“Today is a day worthy of celebration,” said Hernán Luis y Prado, WFW founder and president. “As veterans you are never going to have to wonder if you made a difference … And now you should be commended for using the time, talents and treasures that people in this room have poured into you. You deserve this.”
San Diego Councilwoman Vivian Moreno (D-District 8) joined Luis y Prado in recognition of the graduates, both for their service to the country and their new contributions in furthering the country’s advanced manufacturing industry.
“There are 2.3 million jobs that go unfilled in advanced manufacturing each year in the United States, often resulting in those jobs being sent outside of our country,” she said. “Workshops for Warriors is seeking to fill that gap with the talent of the men and women here today. Your time at Workshops for Warriors will help deliver you and this nation a prosperous and rewarding future.”
Many graduates, she noted, have already received multiple job offers from industry giants including Tesla, San Diego-based Solar Turbines, Facebook and others.
Machining alumnus Sam Allingham and welding graduate Gabino Perez, both honored as top in their respective programs, shared a portion of their stories to the crowd, which included dignitaries from the military, government, business, and nonprofit organizations.
“Workshops for Warriors honestly changed my life and turned it completely around,” said Allingham, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and native of Oceanside, Calif. “I’m leaving here with over 40 certifications and more opportunity worldwide than I can even imagine. We have bonded over our service to our country and now we’re bonded over our service to the advanced manufacturing industry.”
“The most appreciated part of this program, for me, was the amount of hands-on learning,” said Perez, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat photographer. “I’m leaving here with over 500 learning hours and certifications from multiple organizations.”
Perez, who earned seven national certifications and a 95.5 percent average in his time at WFW, also credited the school for helping him search for job opportunities and contacts in his hometown of Houston, Texas, where he plans to return. Allingham, Luis y Prado announced, will be joining WFW as a machining teaching assistant next semester.
Machining graduate David Choate was also recognized for earning more certifications during his time at the school than any other student in Workshops for Warriors history. Choate, son to 33-year active duty U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Choate, earned 69 certifications this semester alone.
“This all started as a small idea and has literally become the largest advanced manufacturing training facility in the world,” said Luis y Prado, a 15-year combat veteran of the U.S. Navy. “Our goal is to train the men and women who have served our country to rebuild our nation’s manufacturing infrastructure and become the people who man that infrastructure.”
In addition to announcing plans to build a $163 million purpose-built facility in San Diego that will help boost the number of annual graduates from 120 to 350, Luis y Prado also announced a new Breaking Barriers Scholarship. The fund, which WFW named in honor of Moreno’s continued support, will provide $25,000 to aspiring WFW students within the councilmember’s district annually.
“We have 120 students a year graduate our programs and by 2020, we’re upping that to 180 per year. We’re also building a $180 million purpose-built facility that will help us boost that number even more to 350,” Luis y Prado said. “We have an obligation to the men and women who served our nation. They do not need a handout. They just need a platform to spring from.”
All graduates received special discounts on manufacturing equipment from Snap-On and Sierra Tools, as well as promotions from USAA.
For more information on WFW and its mission to rebuild American manufacturing one veteran at a time, click here.