Meredith Esposito first attempted welding years ago but it did not go well for the self-proclaimed perfectionist.
“I would joke that I was good at many things but a terrible welder,” she said. “That little gnawing failure stayed in the back of my mind and inspired me when I was at a point in my career seeking a change. I didn’t want to end up grumpy and miserable by staying where I was.”
Having previously earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Louisiana State University with an emphasis on 2-D printmaking, Esposito decided to return to school and find a program leading to strong opportunities for employment. That’s when she looked at welding again.
“I wanted to give it another try and overcome that failure,” she said. “Welding is also a universal skill that covers a wide range of industries. There is a huge skills gap in America and there are many people retiring with not enough skilled tradespeople to fill the gap. And with my art background, welding would literally add another dimension to my skill set.”
After looking into another school, which offered a rigid schedule, Esposito discovered College of DuPage and the Welding program, which provided the flexibility that made it difficult for her to say no.
“I met with Welding program coordinator David Ellis and that solidified my decision,” she said. “He couldn’t do enough for me, giving me a tour of the amazing facilities and becoming my strongest ally and mentor.”
Esposito also received a scholarship from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, a national organization that is helping to close the skills gap in technical careers. Carrying a 4.0 GPA, she completed her Welding Technology certificate and had hoped to get an apprenticeship with the pipefitter’s or elevator mechanic’s union. However, she instead decided to return to her roots in art and is creating sculptural furniture with a steampunk twist. She also is taking blacksmithing classes to add to her skills.
“I’m hoping to soon retire from my current job and throw myself into building custom art-furniture full-time,” she said. Check out her website What the Flux to see some of her work.
Esposito is happy that she conquered her aversion to welding and will use what she learned in her future work. She encourages students to consider COD’s Welding program and to put everything they can into it.
“The program is great, but the teachers can only guide you so far. You have to want to push yourself to improve,” she said. “The instructors provide critiques and help you as much as you will let them. They add things to the curriculum if a student shows interest and will tailor your program to your own personal needs. College of DuPage gave me the tools I need and I couldn’t be happier.”