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The Reach

All the latest information, news and stories to inspire and inform Phi Theta Kappa members

Welder Finds Skills, Family in Phi Theta Kappa

Welder Finds Skills, Family in Phi Theta Kappa

Kegan Forrester was looking for a way to get more involved with fellow students at Linn-Benton Community College in Oregon. In Phi Theta Kappa, he found this and more, including leadership and travel opportunities and skills to help in his chosen career of welding.

After high school, Forrester went to work on a farm. He liked his job, but he knew a college education would bring him more success in life. He enrolled in college as a criminal justice major but became discouraged when college-level math challenged him. He dropped out and returned to the farm.

His bosses saw his potential and encouraged him to try again. This time, Forrester went the technical route. He’d enjoyed welding in high school, so the welding program at Linn-Benton seemed a good choice.

“Welding has it’s own core classes, including both math and writing for welders, which helped me to connect and understand it better,” he said in a story on Linn-Benton’s website.

Forrester is one of thousands of Phi Theta Kappa members in a workforce, career or technical field. They don’t often join the Society for the transfer scholarships; instead, they’re looking for benefits that can help them get and succeed at a job.

A 2015 report by Deloitte Development LLC and The Manufacturing Institute shows that over the next 10 years, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled. Knowing that employers value skills such as leadership, verbal communication and the ability to work in a team, Phi Theta Kappa offers free, online, self-paced programs like Competitive Edge for all members.

Gaining these preferred job skills can be as simple as serving on a committee within your chapter. Forrester served as chapter vice president, which led to him traveling to regional and international conferences, meeting people from around the world, speaking in front of his chapter and working with a team of officers.

“What I got out of being involved in PTK [was] mostly a great set of new skills — leadership, teamwork, speaking to groups and much, much more,” he said. “I also made new friends…not just friends, but a new sort of family I’d say.”

Forrester, a first-generation college student, earned his degree in welding with honors and landed a job in the aerospace industry. He’s also pursuing an associate degree in policing and law enforcement.

“I had no plan to go to a four-year school, but since I have been involved in PTK I know that I have a family to return to if I go back,” he said.

Photo by Lori Fluge-Brunker, Linn-Benton Community College



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