Megumi Hager: Welding Student
Megumi Hager isn’t your traditional Welding student, but she has welding in her blood.
Megumi’s grandpa was a welder, and as a teen she gave it a shot and found herself falling in love with the feeling of turning a plain sheet of metal into something cool and exciting. She followed that feeling, and is now about to graduate from GHC’s Welding program, with a specialty in Structural Steel.
Megumi’s three older siblings and her mother actually paved the way for her to attend GHC. Her older siblings graduated from GHC, and her mom has worked at GHC as a tutor for many years, and for Megumi, they were examples that the education at her local college was top-notch. Plus, she says, “Rod is one of the top Welding instructors in Washington state.
Not only does Megumi love to work with metal (“Metal is so versatile, and it’s also strong. You can bend it, shape it, and make it to conform to whatever you want it to do. It’s really cool to work with. Not to mention everybody thinks you’re a badass,” says Megumi), she also is a big fan of the way the Welding program is structured. Particularly, how senior students are encouraged to help newer students out when the instructor is busy. As a senior student herself now, Megumi says that teaching others has helped her cement the knowledge that she acquired in classes. She also loves the sense of responsibility that it gives.
So far, her absolute favorite thing to make has been an object most people take for granted: a garbage can. In this case, an aluminum garbage can shaped like an octagon and 16 inches tall. She did the math to calculate dimensions for the individual plates, then cut, bent, and welded all of the pieces together on her own, and made sure that they worked out.
Megumi wants to give a shoutout to her instructor, Rod McDonald. During her first quarter at GHC, she was in a car accident that totaled her car, and living way out in the countryside, there were no buses that would arrive on time for her morning classes. She missed two days of class, which Rod let her complete at a pace that wouldn’t overwhelm her, and more than that, he helped make sure she had a ride to class. “Without his help,” she says, “I wouldn’t have been able to manage.”
She also speaks highly of the college. “I’d say that GHC gave me a direction to go in,” Megumi says, “and you’re not going to find a better program. A lot of colleges don’t have the resources to learn so many different types of welding. We have the ability to learn stick welding, wire welding, tig welding, and Oxy-fuel welding as well as cutting with natural gas, propane, and propylene. We have a shear, a break press, and a burn table. We have all these tools that you wouldn’t be able to find in your average shop or college. We learn how to weld plates with steel, aluminum, stainless steel, galvanized steel, and pipes of all different sizes and materials. This is probably the most expansive welding program there is. The naval shipyard sent a couple of guys here, and they said that this program is the best they’ve seen in the country. If someone wants to learn how to weld, I definitely say come to GHC.”
Last summer, Megumi worked through college connections at a large fabrication shop, and she has a standing invitation to come back after graduation. Will she? Megumi hasn’t decided yet, but sees herself working in a fabrication shop that has high standards and values quality over quantity. “I want my work to be here twenty years from now,” Megumi says. With these skills, it definitely will be.