The Oklahoma Association of Minorities in Career and Technology Education (OAMCTE) has awarded Rafael Cardenas second place for his essay on “Why I Chose Career and Technology Education as Part of My Career Pathway.”
Cardenas is a senior at Stillwater High School and a recent graduate of the Welding Technology program at Meridian.
“Coming to Tech and learning how to weld was always part of my plan,” he said.
His essay focused on the impact that his training will have not only on him, but his entire family.
Cardenas’ family owns several large farms located in a Mexican border town near Del Rio, Texas. For as long as he can remember he and his family would travel south to work on the farm during summer and breaks from school.
“Those trips helped shape my career path,” he said. “I noticed how much of the welding work we had to hire out. I realized that if I could weld that I could take on many of the jobs we have to outsource.”
He received a $175 award for his submission. He will also be recognized at the OAMTCE banquet that will be held during the CareerTech Summer Conference on August 2 in Oklahoma City. As an award recipient, he will read his essay and receive a certificate from the organization.
During Cardenas’ time at Tech, he learned all positions of structural welding using SMAW, GMAW and FCAW processes. Additionally, he earned an Oklahoma Department of Labor welding certificate; OSHA 10, First Aid and CPR certifications; and a Silver Career Readiness designation through ACT WorkKeys, an assessment tool that measures foundational skills required for success in the workplace.
Cardenas will put all of his skills to work this summer when he returns to Mexico to spend his summer on the family farm. He plans to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall and major in agricultural business.
Photo: Welding student Rafael Cardenas won second place in the Oklahoma Association of Minorities in Career and Technology Education essay contest.