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Scholarship enables woman to pursue welding dreams

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Mar 24, 2021

27-year-old Sana Anderson was always fascinated with cars. When she graduated from Barrington High School in 2011, she wasn’t sure which road she wanted to take as she turned her passion for automobiles into a career. She took a couple of classes at College of Lake County (CLC), but it took a full decade before she found what she was looking for and came back to the college.

Sana Anderson“As I got older and began making my own decisions, I tried to grab every opportunity I could. It started with cars and then I gravitated towards diesel and motorcycles, evolving into what I work on now which is semi-trucks and trailers. I love it,” said Anderson. “We have a talented tech at the shop where I work who welded. I always shadow him when he is welding. Learning how to weld, and weld well, was something I needed to do. I love the detail-oriented process.”

Photo: CLC student Sana Anderson working with welding equipment.

Anderson knew she wanted to add welding into her career as it goes hand in hand with the industry and her passions. She read everything, watched videos, shadowed other welders and practiced a lot. But she never had to financial support to pursue a formal education in the field until this scholarship became available. Someone on social media recommended the Jessi Combs Foundation scholarship.

"They thought it was the perfect fit and told me just to apply - the worst that could happen is that I’m not selected.”

As the name suggests, the Jessi Combs Foundation was started in honor of Jessi Combs who led a life devoted to metal working, off-road racing and shifting the perception of women in the trades. Through her journey, Combs started her own metal fabrication shop, developed a line of welding gear for women, raced cars at the professional level, took part in numerous TV shows and broke several speed records in vehicles. Along the way Combs looked to educate, inspire and empower women in the trades. In fact, those are the three pillars on which the foundation bearing her name stands. To aid that mission they started a scholarship of which Anderson became one of the inaugural recipients.

“If I didn’t receive the scholarship, there’s no way I could have this education,” said Anderson. “The foundation’s mission is parallel to what I want: to educate and empower women to choose the trades and to be a normalcy in them. Our youth need to be shown the opportunities in skilled trades as career regardless of gender.”

Sana Anderson doing a welding projectIt’s also a mission shared by CLC welding instructor Christopher Krafft. “Getting women into the industry is so important. Our mission is to provide a good and equitable experience for all our students. We want everyone to succeed.”

Photo: Anderson practicing her welding skills.

Krafft says many people take his general welding class, WLD 170, as a way to explore the trade. He has seen many students come through his welding booths, including a growing number of women. No matter the background or level of experience, he sees a common trait among his most successful students.

“One of the things I teach in my certification class is attitude takes you everywhere,” said Krafft. “If you have a poor attitude, you probably won’t be very good at what you do, and Sana has a great attitude. She is eager to learn, always asking the right questions. I think she’ll go far.”

What exactly does Anderson’s attitude consist of? She sums it up like this, “I used to think like a lot of young girls who want to get into the trades: scared of the failure. Especially as a woman, I used to worry about what others think until I gained the confidence to pursue a trade. While earning my education and working in a male dominated environment, I try not to think about anything else but how I’m in it to be the best that I can be. I want to contribute to the next generation of women choosing a skilled trade. Nothing beyond that really matters. I want to be good at it so bad and I’m ready to put the work in to earn it.”

Find more information on CLC’s welding program and consider signing up for a class.

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.