Welded for success

As she watched the Pennsylvania State SkillsUSA Virtual Conference at home on YouTube, Abby Jacobes lis­tened as the win­ners of the Welding Sculpture Competition were announced.

When she heard third place fol­lowed by sec­ond place and her name hadn’t been called, Abby fig­ured, “Okay, I had a good run. I fin­ished my project. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”

As she was about to turn off the pro­gram, Abby heard her name called as state cham­pi­on. Emotions got the bet­ter of her and the Quakertown Community High School and Upper Bucks County Technical School stu­dent began to cry.

“I was so hap­py,” she said. “I’m amazed that I actu­al­ly made it.”

A senior in the UBCTS Welding & Fabrication Technology pro­gram, Abby’s sculp­ture, “Flowers for David,” was cre­at­ed in mem­o­ry of her late grand­fa­ther, David Moser, who died in 2018. The sculp­ture includ­ed three del­i­cate flow­ers in a vase. In addi­tion to cre­at­ing the sculp­ture, as part of the SkillsUSA exer­cise, Abby doc­u­ment­ed each step of the weld­ing process in a detailed note­book and vir­tu­al pre­sen­ta­tion.

“We are very proud of Abygail’s accom­plish­ments,” said Michael Herrera, the UBCTS’s Assistant Director. “She deserves all the hon­ors and recog­ni­tion she is receiv­ing, which is a tes­ta­ment to her work eth­ic, deter­mi­na­tion, and skill.”

Surprisingly for one so gift­ed, Abby didn’t begin weld­ing until her sopho­more year. But she quick­ly fell in love with the process. She cred­its Alexandra Dadio, a for­mer Instructional Facilitator at UBCTS with being “my biggest sup­port­er. She taught me as much as any­one. I wouldn’t be where I am with­out her.”

Ms. Dadio recalls Abby as the only girl in the weld­ing class­room. “She more than held her own,” she said. “There were some hard times, some frus­trat­ing times but she buck­led down and kept going. I’m excit­ed to see what she does in the future and to be able to keep cheer­ing her on.
Abby fought for this. I saw her try things that didn’t work and per­se­vere. I’m incred­i­bly proud of her.”

The daugh­ter of Melanie and Anthony Jacobes has had a mem­o­rable school year. In addi­tion to her Gold Medal as SkillUSA’s finest welder, Abby was the UBCTS’s stu­dent of the month in February when she was weld­ing shop fore­man. She is a mem­ber of the National Technical Honors Society, and has received the Most Dedicated Student Award in her pro­gram and Road Angel’s Achievement Award. Abby also will be a 2021 Elmer Gates Enterprise Award recip­i­ent. She has dis­played out­stand­ing lead­er­ship traits, is an hon­ors stu­dent and ranks among the top stu­dents in weld­ing, excelling in work ethics and knowl­edge cat­e­gories.

Abby’s hard work and ded­i­ca­tion have set her up for suc­cess. She is a Cooperative Education stu­dent trainee employed by Klover Contracting, Inc., and will begin a full­time job there fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion.

“I am over­joyed,” she said of her career start. “I am so glad for the oppor­tu­ni­ty and for the expe­ri­ence.”

Anna Marie D’Allession of Klover said Abby “is doing a tremen­dous job in the shop, and her skill has already sur­passed oth­ers who have been vet­er­an welders.”

Coincidently this week, the Wolf Administration encour­aged stu­dents to con­sid­er pur­su­ing a career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion.

“Whether they choose to enter the work­force or con­tin­ue their edu­ca­tion after they grad­u­ate from high school, all stu­dents should be equipped with the tools, knowl­edge, and skills they need to suc­ceed,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “Thousands of stu­dents across Pennsylvania have found that their path to post­sec­ondary suc­cess begins at a career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion cen­ter.”

Abby’s advice to stu­dents: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. You’ve got to go above and beyond to make it. Set your mind to some­thing, have an end goal in mind, put your heart into it and nev­er give up.”