MOULTRIE, Ga. — One Colquit County High School student’s life was forever changed Friday when he won a full ride scholarship valued at over $17,000 to Tulsa Welding School in Jacksonville, Fla.

Students from all over South Georgia came to CCHS to compete in the high school’s annual welding competition Friday morning and were judged on creating a lap, butt, and T-welds, using the gas metal arc welding and shielding metal arc welding processes, according to CCHS media specialist Cheryl Youse.

Participants were also scored on their ability to read a blueprint, measurements, the appearance of their weld bead, clean up, and adherence to safety procedures.

A written exam was administered to all students to be used as a tiebreaker if necessary.

First place winner Jesus Gonzalez, a senior at CCHS, was awarded the full scholarship to TWS, along with a Lincoln Electric Street Rod helmet, Lincoln gloves, a hat, jacket and bag, and a belt buckle that read “Grand Champion.”

Second place winner, Efrain Gonzalez of Colquitt County High School won a 50 percent scholarship to Tulsa Welding School in Jacksonville.

Third place winner, Jose Moreno of CCHS, won a 25 percent scholarship to Tulsa Welding School.

Other winners included Daniel Rocha of CCHS, fifth place winner Davin Harper of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and sixth place winner Jarrod Howell of Thomas County.

All participants received $500 scholarships from TWS.

There was a total of 62 students from 12 different counties. Fifty-two of those students were seniors, one junior and nine sophomores.

Sponsors included Lincoln Electric, Miller Electric and Tulsa Welding School, as the main sponsor.

Among those students that participated were CCHS senior Morgan Battles, the only female in the welding competition, and Salvador Nojar, also a senior at CCHS.

Battles expressed her loneliness being the only female in the competition.

“I wish more females would pursue the industry,” Battles said. “Women have naturally steady hands and would be good at welding.”

Battles recently won tenth place at the TWS competition in Jacksonville in February and she plans to pursue a degree in welding at TWS upon graduation.

Najar said it was his first time competing in the competition. “I enjoy it, even though it’s hard sometimes,” Najar said. “I want to go to Tulsa, even if I don’t win a scholarship.”

Gonzalez broke down in tears after hearing his name called as the first place winner of the ultimate prize.

“Well, this morning, I was coming to school with a prayer in mind, thanking God for this skill that He has provided me with,” Gonzalez said. “And if it was by His will that I was going to win something today…I would have been grateful for anything.”

Gonzalez plans on attending TWS in the upcoming Fall semester.

“I didn’t expect to win first place,” Gonzalez said. “All the glory and praise be to Him.”

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