Female graduate uses welding training to open doors to job opportunities

Kaci Truelock
Kaci Truelock(South Plains College)
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 9:25 AM CST
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LEVELLAND, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) - Kaci Truelock’s journey to South Plains College is filled with several “forks in the road” decisions. The Lubbock native had planned on getting married after graduating from Premiere High School. She moved to Idaho with her fiancé, but that didn’t turn out like she planned. Instead, she returned to West Texas and enrolled in SPC.

Truelock and her mother, Laura, visited the Lubbock Career and Technical Center. Truelock said she thought she wanted to study art. However, as she walked past an information kiosk where she found a pamphlet about the welding program and how it could lead to a job in robotics. Along with Laura and her father Jess’s encouragement, Truelock made her decision.

“I’m more of a hands-on kind of person, and this is something to do with my hands rather than sit in a classroom all day,” she said.

Over the next two years, Truelock earned her Basic and Advanced Welding Certificates as well as an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Welding.

She was trained in welding processes, welding procedures, blueprint reading, basic welding metallurgy, structural and pipe welding, pipe fitting, layout and fabrication, welding inspection and weld testing methods. Truelock finished her degree requirements in December 2021, but she participated in the May 2022 commencement. Shortly thereafter, she landed a position with Sanco Metal Fabricators LLP.

“We work on oil field stuff, build belt shafts for sand fracking and make other equipment along those lines,” she said. “I really like it a lot, but it can get a little monotonous.”

Truelock said she would like to return to the classroom once she figures out which classes she will need. She’s undecided between robotics and computers. If she opts for computers, she said she would like to study coding, graphic design or animation. Graphics and animation will allow her to use her artistic talents.

In the next five years, Truelock said she hopes to move up the ladder to advancement. She would also consider moving to Houston to learn how to weld underwater to change it up.

“I can take all of my certificates down to Houston, and all they will need to teach me is the underwater part of it,” she said.

Unlike most welding classes, where the number of male students is higher than that of female students, Truelock and another female student, Cassandra Garza, both completed the program together. Over the two-year period, there were four females in those classes and the male students treated them like they were part of the group. She said it takes a specific personality to handle being around a bunch of guys all the time.

Truelock credits her classroom success to instructor Larry Kirk, an assistant professor of welding, whom she said liked to do everything in a certain way and keep everything in order. He taught her to be organized and work safely.

“In the field I work in, I’m thankful for the people who hired me,” Truelock said.