Monroe student receives welding diploma before graduating high school

A graduating senior in Monroe is leaving high school with not one, but two diplomas
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 9:43 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 9:44 PM CDT
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - A graduating senior in Monroe is leaving high school with not one, but two diplomas, thanks to the support of her teacher and a youth apprenticeship program.

Vanessa Hartwig took her first welding class freshman year. Four years later, Hartwig is now graduating from Monroe High School and Blackhawk Technical College with a Welding Technical Diploma.

“It’s really like attention to detail which I really like, it’s a lot of hands-on, which is what I learn the best from and it’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much,” Hartwig said. “Just don’t be afraid, it’s a lot of fun. It’s good to get into trades that are more male-dominated and show that you can do the same thing as them.”

Hartwig began working with Monroe Truck Equipment through a youth apprenticeship program offered at her school. Technology & Engineering Teacher Dan Saunders said the youth apprenticeships have a broad scope at the high school.

“Vanessa is at Monona Truck.” We have another couple welders at Kuhn North America in Brodhead. We have people at our ethanol plant doing stuff in the lab. We have people in hospitality and tourism, so, it’s all across the board. It’s not just manufacturing, Saunders said.

Hartwig credits Mr. Saunders for her continued success in the welding field.

“I first got started in welding with Mr. Saunders’s my freshman year. I took Metals where it’s kind of just introduced the starting of welding and different processes,” Hartwig said. “Mr. Saunders has been a big part of it. He’s helped me and encouraged me to go through all of this.”

Following her graduation in May, Hartwig will prepare for six months at Advanced Welding Institute in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

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