Brian Lee has big plans for the future, and Daley College is helping him prepare to achieve them.

Prior to enrolling at Daley, Brian’s parents told him to go to school or go to work. He decided to go to work. That decision left him available to accompany his sister on a college visit while she was looking for a school to attend.

During the visit, Brian saw a welding site. He talked to the students there and learned what welding is and how it works. He immediately began searching for a school where he could study welding closer to home.

It’s almost as if the stars aligned for Brian. While searching for a welding school close to home, he stumbled across Daley College. At the time, Daley was expanding its trade offerings, and it had the welding courses he was interested in. Daley was also close to Brian’s South Side home, so in 2019, he began studying welding technology.

“When I found out Daley was bringing hands-on courses in, I was very interested,” Brian said. “I’ve always been good working with my hands. I just never got to experience welding until 2019.”

Through the program, Brian receives hands-on training completing welding projects, operating machines, cutting metal, and learning various welding skills. It’s a place where he feels at home. He enjoys interacting with staff and other students, and the professors affirm and encourage him while taking time to assist him and answer any questions he may have.

One of the fondest memories Brian has of the college and its instructors happened soon after he returned to school. He had a welding instructor share where he could purchase discounted welding materials. She also gifted him some supplies he’d need for his course.

“Everybody is very nice. From my professors to the security guards, all of the staff and faculty have high hopes for me,” he said.

In addition to being a Daley College student, Brian works at UPS. He’s grateful for his job and the fact the company funds his education. Still, he admits that balancing life’s responsibilities, work, and school can be a challenge at times. Thankfully, Brian’s instructors know he and his classmates may need an extension and are gracious enough to provide them from time to time.

Brian feels Daley College is setting him up for success and providing him with the tools to reach his future goals. After completing school, he wants to apply for a promotion to work in the Plant Engineering Department at UPS, which is a team of welders and mechanics who work around the building. Then, he’d like to work for a welding company to gain more experience in his field.

Ultimately, Brian wants to start his own business and mentor other welders. For him, giving back to others has always been important. He recognizes the support and help he’s getting at Daley and doesn’t take it for granted—in fact, he wants to pass it on.

“People have helped me when they don’t have to help me. They’re doing it just because,” he said. “You never know what people are going through. I always just want to make sure someone’s okay.”

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