Welding was a part of Sabrina Burgardt-Allen’s life long before she started the Welding program at SCTCC this fall.
Having taken two classes of welding in high school, she decided to do an independent study her senior year that combined her love of welding and art.
The result? A large sculpture of the Spartans’ shield at ROCORI High School.
So it’s no wonder that Sabrina decided to come to SCTCC to pursue welding. Her high school teacher suggested taking the program, and SCTCC instructor Chuck Haus was another big influence in her decision to attend.
Then just before the semester started, her boyfriend’s grandfather died. Sabrina lives with her boyfriend and his family and became close to his grandfather, Dwayne Skuza, a long-time trucker in the area. Every day Sabrina stayed with Dwayne after she got home from high school, helping him out and watching his overall wellbeing as he had fluid in his lungs and around his heart that had progressed. Dwayne was a cancer survivor and was 5 years cancer free.
It was a shock when he died after getting a clean bill of health just two weeks before Sabrina was set to start the Welding program.
Sabrina knew that he would want her to pursue the program, though, since he was one of the people in her life who urged her to keep welding. She started in the Welding program, even though she was terrified of starting school.
“I was terrified of college right away, but after the first couple weeks, it was so laid back,” Sabrina said. “It’s a lot better than high school and has more breathing room.”
It turns out that she needed some breathing room. The first couple weeks were rough because she had no internet access at home to complete the online sections of class. And since she drives from St. Cloud to Paynesville for work and lives in Eden Valley, it’s hard to carve out time to use the computer labs at SCTCC.
Fortunately, Chuck was understanding and gave her some leeway in completing the assignments.
“As long as you keep in contact with him, he’s understanding,” Sabrina explained.
You wouldn’t know that she had trouble keeping up at the beginning of the semester; now she’s ahead by about two weeks.
Another huge help for Sabrina? Her friend Brianna started the Welding program at the same time. The two are the only females in this year’s Welding class, and they’re both ahead. Sabrina has even been teaching some classmates how to arc weld after they saw her weld.
“I got to teach a couple guys how to arc weld. That’s pretty fun. It’s surprising – they’re pretty willing to have me show them how to do that.”
With half a semester under her belt, Sabrina’s feeling a lot more comfortable in her decision to come SCTCC. Between her friend Brianna and the support she gets regularly from Chuck, she’s even more confident in her decision to pursue Welding.
As for advice for anyone who’s not sure if college is for them, she says that any fear she had about college was gone the first day of class. The atmosphere and support she gets at SCTCC are just what she needs to make her feel like she made the right choice.
“If you really want it – if it’s something you really want to go for – just take that extra step. It betters you off in the future. Just take a leap of faith.”