Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Southern California Commercial Electrical Valedictorian Donald Williams

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Being a Commercial Electrician can take you to unexpected places. For 2021 Southern California Commercial Electrical Graduate and Valedictorian Donald Williams, it literally took him to SeaWorld, where he works as an electrician. 

“I am touching and doing things that I have never done. It is exciting and full of learning opportunities. I am also now able to use my knowledge to help animals and make sure they are taken care of,” says Williams. 

But before Williams got to spend his days in the presence of sea creatures, he was working warehouse and retail jobs until he became an Electrician Trainee and then a Commercial Electrical Apprentice with WECA. 

“I started with WECA as an Electrician Trainee in the GetWired 101 course,” says Williams. “Halfway through that, I became an indentured Apprentice, finished up the 101 course, and started my Apprenticeship.” 

Williams apprenticed with two member contractors during his time with WECA; first Bergelectric, and then he finished out his Apprenticeship with Northwest Edison. Both employers—coupled with his classroom learning at WECA—introduced him to many aspects of the trade.  

“Everything from underground to estimating and project engineering. My on-the-job training was very extensive. The on-the-job training taught me to overcome and work through the stressful situations that accompany construction. At WECA, I was introduced to motors and motor controls and having the hands-on training in that from WECA got me hired. WECA gave me a career and a way to support my wife and three kids,” says Williams.

Williams says that he was able to become the Commercial Electrical Valedictorian of the Southern California Class of 2021 by shooting for the top from day one.  

“I made sure to ask questions with things I didn’t understand,” says Williams. “I listened and took notes to refer to. I also helped others who didn’t understand and in return it solidified what I already knew.” 

Williams also says that “Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes. The willingness to own up to and learn from those mistakes is what separates the average electrician from the best electricians. Listen to learn, not to respond. It’s also okay not to know something, but always ask questions and write it down if you need to.” 

Though Williams is tenacious and insightful, he also credits his success to his wife, to WECA’s San Diego instructional team, and to 2021 Southern California Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship Salutatorian Justin Salter. 

Says Williams. “I want to give a shout-out to Justin Salter, the salutatorian, who provided friendly competition and was someone I was able to bounce ideas off of. He was always open to answering questions and had no problem telling me when I was wrong. And to my wife, for dealing with the sometimes long hours and long drives I had to take when I was working. She’s always been super supportive. I knew I always had a loving home to come to after a long day at work. There’s many others I could give shout-outs to like my foreman, project managers, and journeymen, but I’ve got to keep this short.” 

Now that Williams has graduated from WECA—as the Commercial Electrical Valedictorian for the Southern California Class of 2021 to boot—he says that one day he would love to teach and give his knowledge to others so they can be successful like he has been.