INA, Ill. (Aug. 30, 2012) – Local manufacturer Magnum Steel Works Incorporated started a scholarship this semester for a Rend Lake College welding student. The first recipient of the $1,000 education award is Kaylan Grove of Mulkeytown.
Magnum Steel Works President and CEO Jim Czerwinski could not have found a more deserving recipient.
Kaylan is the son of Carrie Grove and is a graduate of Zeigler-Royalton High School. His woodworking teacher at Z-R High introduced him to a welding teacher at Christopher High School. Kaylan refers to him as “Mr. Fletcher” and wasn’t sure of his teacher’s first name. “Mr. Fletcher” is CHS welding teacher Mike Fletcher, who has been in charge of the program since 2005. Kaylan credits him for everything he has learned to do with a welder so far.
Fletcher, also from the Zeigler area, worked on cars with Kaylan’s father years ago. Kaylan gets his work ethic from his dad, according to Fletcher.
“He had a passion for it. I could tell that,” said Fletcher. “I saw him at graduation and he told me he finally had some focus on where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do, and that was welding.”
Pete Wilce, an instructor in RLC’s welding technology program, said Grove has a gift.
“He is advancing so fast in our program,” said Wilce. “He really has talent. Kaylan’s already doing things we are teaching the students in the class ahead of him.”
“I just took to it,” said Grove. “My grandpa was a welder, so I was kind of intrigued to find out what it was like. After high school, I just wanted to pursue a career in it. I believe it will be a good career choice for me. I am so thankful for the scholarship. It is going to help a lot.”
He doesn’t have much money. Kaylan and his fiancé are raising their newborn baby, 3-week-old Isabel. He works part-time on flooring jobs with his soon-to-be father-in-law. Carrie was supporting both of them on a limited income. But what Kaylan lacks in resources, he makes up for in passion for his chosen profession.
His drive to weld even led him to trade his only mode of transportation – a 1987 Honda Nighthawk motorcycle – for a welder from his future father-in-law.
“It’s just a little stick welder,” Kaylan said. “But I needed it to practice. I’ve probably got about a year’s practice on it. I paid about $900 for [the Honda] and ended up trading it for a $600 welder because I wanted to practice.” He grins. “I love to weld. There’s just something about it.”
Kaylan’s driving his fiancé’s car or picking up rides with classmates to get to school. He said his goal is to graduate from RLC with an associate degree in welding and get started on his career.
Czerwinski met with RLC Foundation CEO Shawna Hall to set up the scholarship criteria. The student must have a GPA of 2.0 or better and priority is given to a full-time student majoring in welding technology.
“We are so thankful for individuals and businesses in our communities who see the importance of continued education. They recognize the financial need that so often is paired with going to college and they step forward to meet that need,” said Hall. “Without the generosity of scholarship supporters like Magnum Steel Works, many students – students like Kaylan Grove – may not realize their dream of going to college and learning skills that can improve quality of life for themselves and their loved ones.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” Carrie Grove said of her son receiving the scholarship. “I’m so proud of him. He is a great kid who would do anything for anybody. He is bettering himself and I’m very proud.”
For more about this story or other scholarship giving at RLC, contact the Foundation at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1324 or send an e-mail to [email protected]