Lighting a Fire
Olivia Arreola is on the path to becoming a Welding Engineer thanks to her work ethic and determination to succeed.
Olivia Arreola is a welder today because she had a point to prove.
When she was a junior at Wautoma High School, she casually mentioned to some classmates that she was thinking about taking a welding class. They didn’t think she could make it in the male-driven industry. Their doubt only motivated her more. “At that point I told myself, ‘you know what? Now I have to do it," she explains. And she did.
Now 21 years old, Olivia has made it clear: she’s a welder through and through. She has earned medals from regional, state and national competitions, an associate degree in Industrial Welding Technology and a full-time job that she loves at Miller Electric in Appleton.
She also has her sights set on a bachelor’s degree in Welding Engineering Technology. In Fall 2022, Olivia plans to attend Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, where she’ll start as a junior. “I want to be a welding engineer,” she says, “and challenge myself to be more innovative and create products that help people.”
While Olivia waits to start the next phase of her education, she’s enjoying her current job as a Welding Technician at Miller. She also volunteers her time through welding-related events with area youth groups.
“I had a great experience at Fox Valley Tech. Everyone was so encouraging,” she says. “I’ve had so many supportive people throughout my journey. I want to be that person for someone.”
Welding in Wautoma
The Wautoma Regional Center offers a full lineup of welding classes for area high school students, providing them the opportunity to not only earn high school and college credits at the same time, but also valuable skills they can employ locally. Each semester, about 18 students can complete the GMAW Welder Basic Certificate. Additional welding classes are also available.