|At WECA, we’re proud of being a pivotal part of graduates’ lives. It’s an honor to work with our Member Contractors to provide students with exemplary in-the-classroom education and on-the-job training to succeed and forge careers.
That’s why when we hear stories like Adam Weiper’s (2020 Northern California Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Valedictorian), Michael Finner’s (2020 Southern California Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Valedictorian) and Nathan Price’s (2020 Southern California Electrician Trainee program graduate), we are humbled to have helped change students’ lives and provide them with an education and life experience that’ll stay with them long after they have walked our halls.
We are always proud of our graduates, but especially so in an unprecedented year like 2020. You did not let this year define nor mar the end of your educational experience, and you did not let this year define or radically alter your chosen industry. Instead, you rose to the occasion and met any challenge head-on, as always. You are the backbone of your communities, and power California with your hard work, determination, and tenacity. Graduates like you make the construction and electrical industries especially resilient. We salute you and look forward to your collective future endeavors. Congratulations!
But before you go, take a moment to read inspiring sentiments and musings from some of your fellow graduates—2020 Northern California Apprenticeship graduate and Valedictorian Adam Weiper, 2020 Southern California Apprenticeship graduate and Valedictorian Michael Finner, and 2020 Southern California Electrician Trainee graduate Nathan Price.
Adam Weiper, 2020 Northern California Commercial Apprenticeship graduate and Valedictorian, started out as an Electrician Trainee with Reyff Electric, Inc. in 2013. But owner Ray Reyff quickly realized Weiper’s potential and began sponsoring Weiper’s Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship. And the rest is history—Weiper has been with Reyff ever since—an experience he says “has allowed me to grow exponentially and gain more knowledge.”
And with WECA, Weiper says that although the experience was “sometimes difficult and overwhelming,” instructors always helped Weiper and his fellow students grasp and understand concepts no matter what—even if it meant staying after hours to help—something that Weiper doesn’t take for granted.
“WECA gave me the tools and knowledge to be able to succeed on the jobsite. I was truly blessed to be around not only great instructors, but also great mentors, which set me up for success and set me on a path to train future generations with the same enthusiasm. We watched you all [instructors] grow with us…Zack, you always showed respect to each student and truly cared that we succeeded. Jimmie, you are a wealth of knowledge and you always allow yourself to be open to questions and phone calls—to this day, you still answer questions from former students, because you love sharing that knowledge and helping everyone succeed. And LaKeal, you excelled at keeping the class engaged even through some less than exciting but necessary things—a commendable feat,” says Weiper.
Looking back, Weiper wants current and future students alike to know that “your path may be close to being finished, or perhaps it is just beginning. You have all made the decision to dedicate years to gaining as much knowledge as you can. Use this time to ask questions, and for help if a problem arises. You control your success in the program, which will set you up for success in your career as you continue to learn.”
Now that he has graduated, Weiper says his future is “open to so many possibilities.” He plans to continue working for Reyff Electric “because it has been nothing but positive growth over the years, and Ray’s commitment and investment into me was not a waste by any stretch of the imagination.”
After leaving the military in 2013 with “no exit plan and no college education”, Finner decided to use some of his GI Bill to attend an Electrician Trainee program and get his foot in the door. Finner initially attended Wyotech in Fremont, CA and got a year of job experience under his belt, which enabled him to be hired by Bergelectric—whom he still works for today—and indentured into his Commercial Apprenticeship with WECA in 2015.
“Everything began to fall into place then,” says Finner. “Wyotech used the same books as WECA, but WECA was superior in explaining the material we covered in class, and the labs were more organized and challenging.” Finner continues, stating that “completing my education through WECA has opened up a lot of doors for me. I’m not just an electrician…I am also a certified journeyman that has completed a state-approved apprenticeship program”.
“The last five years gave me the opportunity to work with many different types of materials and tools, and with lots of different people,” says Finner. “Knowing how to work with difficult people is sometimes as important as knowing your trade”.
Finner says that “my wife and children [contributed to my success at WECA and in my career]…I struggled a lot during my Apprenticeship with whether or not I wanted to continue with the program. Every time I prayed about it or discussed it with my family and friends, the answer remained the same, so I was on the right path.”
And Finner says to current and future students: “If you chose this Apprenticeship over a college education, you made a wise decision. You will seriously doubt it at times, but if you can grind it out and finish the Apprenticeship, you’ll have an education and a skillset you can take anywhere in the world. If they [do end up] wanting a college education, they will be able to afford it after completing the Apprenticeship without going into massive amounts of student loan debt.”
Finner continued, thanking Maria (his wife) “for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself”, “Mr. Ranger Rick, thanks for everything you taught us…and for the donuts”, and “Dom, Jon, Devon, and Sean for making me work harder. Without you guys, I don’t know that I’d be in this spotlight”.
Nathan Price began WECA’s Electrician Trainee program in 2014—but his path was slightly different than that of other Electrician Trainees in that he has not ever worked for a WECA Member Contractor, since there are are't many close to where he lives, in Orange County.
But Price—like most other Electrician Trainees—financed a significant portion of his education by convincing his non-WECA Member Contractor employer to pay for some of his program! After achieving this, Price’s progress in the Electrician Trainee program accelerated, and he also took self-paced courses online during this time to increase his knowledge of electronics and the burgeoning solar energy industry.
“WECA has changed my life,” says Price. “It’s allowed me to become self-sufficient, have a skill that is and will always be in high demand, purchase my first home, and aspire to a bright future”.
Price continued, saying that “WECA prepared me for my career by giving me a thorough understanding of electrical fundamentals, trade practices, electrical code, troubleshooting, and general skills. And [I give a shout-out to instructors] Jimmie Slemp, Andre Lewis, Tom Thompson and Talon Pobuda for really going out of their way to encourage students and make sure that students understand the principles that are being taught”.
And what a career he’s enjoyed so far. Throughout Price’s career so far—one year in residential electrical, three and a half years in commercial electrical, and one and a half years in the industrial and research side of the electrical industry, he’s participated in the development of a neutron therapy machine for cancer, a large-scale fusion reactor, and some small-scale electric vehicle research—all of which require extensive knowledge of controls, instrumentation, and voltages. Currently, Price is working on an installation in China where he supervises and inspects the work of local electricians to ensure the quality, reliability, safety, and troubleshooting of the electrical systems on the first neutron therapy machine to be installed in a hospital.
Price says that he wouldn’t have gotten to where he is without his on-the-job training—which taught him how to be a good electrician, run a business, and other invaluable life lessons—nor without his dedication to consistent quality and hard work, which also helped him to succeed at WECA.
“Being dedicated to my studies and wanting to learn anything I can while at work, and asking questions and not shying away from extra work [helped me excel],” says Price.
Price implores future and current students to take their education seriously, study, and be devoted to their work.
“Do the best work you can, and pay attention to the details,” says Price.
And even though Price has graduated from WECA and secured work on interesting and innovative projects both stateside and abroad, he’s still committed to continuing his education and continuing to further expand his knowledge.