This past July we were saddened to learn that Michael was involved in a car accident and passed away. Michael was one of our finest graduates and was admired for his dedication, perseverance and talent.
He was a graduate of the welding cohort and had just graduated with his 2-year welding degree in June 2013. He was also a graduate of the Lake Washington Human Resources Association (LWHRA) Coaching Program and planned to stay involved as a coach-in-training. He was on track to go to work for one of two interested shipbuilding companies as soon as he took and passed his last two WABO certifications.
Michael was a devoted son and a single dad of a teenage son who is on a college-track, which was one of Michael’s greatest sources of pride and motivation for continuing his education via SJI. His enthusiasm, focus, and willingness to contribute to those around him inspired many, and he is greatly missed.
Our deepest condolences are with Michael’s family.
Michael’s Success Story as well as a video he was featured in, originally published in July 2012, are below.
Before Michael started the SJI Welding program back in June 2011, he was at a crossroads – did he want to just have a day-to-day job, or did he want to begin a career? Up until that point, Michael had been working for a temp agency, never sure what opportunities each day would bring, but knowing for sure that he’d be making minimum wage if he did work. Deep down, Michael knew he could do better. So he enrolled in the SJI Welding cohort.
Michael did well in the program and earned his certificate of completion in September 2011 – but his story doesn’t end there. He decided to continue on with his education at South Seattle Community College – earning additional welding certifications as well as credits toward his 2-year degree.
“I was good at what I used to do, but I’m better at what I could be, and I wasn’t reaching that potential. SJI helped me see how I could reach that potential. Not only that, I’m 42 years old – and going back to school. Some people don’t think it’s a good thing to do, but it is, and SJI helped me to realize that.”
Continuing his education has given Michael a great amount of self-pride – for his own life and also for his teenage son. Since they’ve both been in school during this time, math homework has even taken on a bit of a competitive edge, with them both trying to see who can get the best grades on their assignments! For Michael, pursuing this career offers a chance to really put a positive mark on the future – for his son and for the larger community.
“I want to make a difference. I have a 14-year-old son, and he’s going to be the future, so in some sort of way, shape or form, I want to touch the future, whatever I’m doing. As a welder, I can build things to be safe for people to make sure highways are safe, bridges are safe, for the community.”
Whether it be making the community safer through top-notch welding skills or providing a good life and a good example for his son, Michael’s story showcases how the SJI program can allow individuals to reach their greater potential through skills training, continuing education – and at the end of the day, by empowering people to achieve their goals and take steps to better their lives. Michael encourages others to take advantage of this opportunity as well:
“If I could sum up the program in one word, it would be confidence in yourself. It would be self-reliance. There are so many words to describe the SJI program, I really don’t just have one, but if I was you, I’d come and find out, so you could make your own words about the SJI program, because I believe in it that much.”