Class of 2011
Lakota High School graduate Josh Dennis has an eye for a good deal – or maybe two. He found that the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program and the Fast Track HVACR program at Terra State were efficient, financially prudent ways to get into a career.
After finishing all of his general studies at Terra State through PSEO, he enrolled at Tiffin University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. But it just wasn’t for him
“I liked accounting but I just didn’t see myself doing that the rest of my life,” the 2009 Lakota grad said. “I grew up on a farm and I enjoyed using my hands. So I transferred into the HVACR Fast Track program at Terra State.
He was encouraged by his father and a neighbor to pursue a career in the skilled trades.
“When you’re in high school, skilled trades are not pushed at all,” Dennis said. “They make you feel that going to college for a four-year degree is the only option you have. It does work out for some people, but at least 50 percent of those people don’t end up using the degrees they received and then they are stuck with a mountain of debt and not doing a job they went to school for.
The PSEO program turned out to be a great choice as well
“It’s free college courses, and if you hit it hard like I did, you can knock out two years of college quite easily,” he said.
It only took Dennis just a year to finish an Associate of Applied Science in HVAC. He was impressed with his experience at Terra State
“Tim (Roth) and Steve (Bender) were great teachers,” he said. “They both have years of experience out in the field, so we actually learned how it is not what the book says.
While still a student, Dennis was accepted into Local 50 Pipefitters/Service Mechanics and worked Fridays until he graduated. Now he works for Wadsworth Service of Toledo as a mechanical equipment service technician
“Every day is a new challenge,” he said. “Rarely am I doing the exact same thing which keeps work interesting. Also, like everything else, it’s constantly evolving with new technology and new products so we’re constantly learning something new.
Class of 2006
Lynn Wagner isn’t one to do things the traditional way. And so far, it’s worked out quite nicely for her
Since 2006, when she was only 22, Wagner has been employed as a Senior Nuclear Quality Control Inspector by First Energy Corp. at its Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Oak Harbor.
Wagner grew up on a farm outside Port Clinton and always enjoyed working with her hands. Her industrial arts teacher in high school mentored her to pursue the hands-on field of her choice in college
Her college choice was Terra State and her interests led her to two Associate of Applied Science degrees – Welding Technology and Welding Automated Processes.
“I knew I wanted to be an inspector, so having all of the educational background in not only welding but also inspection, non-destructive testing and robotics really helped me with my current position,” she said. “Without Terra, I wouldn’t be where I am today, with the career I have
“Terra has been the staple that lead me to my career. Being able to acquire multiple degrees at the same time was great and really helpful to be able to finish college within a reasonable amount of time.
One of Wagner’s hobbies also shows her unique side. She drag races diesel trucks and in 2011, was the Quick Diesel Season Champion. She’s been featured in several diesel magazines and has the support of numerous sponsors.
Wagner’s welding training has come in handy in the garage, but another experience at Terra State has also helped
“My husband, Mike, and I have done almost all of the work on the truck ourselves, with the exception of the transmission and some machine work on the engine,” she said. “When I was attending Terra, I was also a student worker for a few years in the automotive department as the tool room attendant. So from my time spent in the tool room, I knew what all the tools were and how they were used.
Both in her work and in her racing, Wagner sees the value of training in the skilled trades
“The skilled trades have been a great area of study for me and have provided a promising career,” she said. “I suggest the trades to as many people as I can.
Class of 1988
It’s the mark of a good education when skills and knowledge gained are used more than 20 years later. That’s the case with the training that John Snodgrass received at Terra State.
A Fremont Ross High School grad, John attended Terra from 1986 to 1988 when he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering. During his second year, he was working as a full-time tool designer at Fremont Plastic Molds as well.
“My class work at Terra gave me the technical knowledge and confidence to step into the role of a designer and grow with the demands of the position,” he said. “Even now, more than 20 years later, I apply the lessons learned in my daily tasks.
John was promoted to Engineering Manager in 1992 and also took on the role of IT Manager. Later, he directed Quality Control. Throughout his 26 years at Fremont Plastic Molds, he worked on a variety of tooling for the plastics industry as well as product designs and automation equipment with a heavy focus in automotive.
In April 2013, John accepted the Engineering Manager position at Century Die where he continues to use his knowledge of plastics and mechanical engineering to develop tooling for the plastic container and automotive industry
John chose Terra State because it was convenient and more reasonably priced than other options.
“But most importantly, Terra offered the training I desired,” he said.
John lives in Fremont with his wife, Cindy, and three sons.
The boys are now part of the Terra family. Scott, 20, is finishing his third semester in the Computer Information Systems program; Kyle, 18, is in his first semester in Digital Media; and twin brother, Cody, is employed at Century Die as an entry level machinist and will be attending Terra for his training in the near future
Class of 2014
Usually students earn an associate’s degree at Terra State and then transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Ian Kuenzli did the opposite.
The McCutchenville native graduated from Mohawk High School in 2007 and then went on to Heidelberg University to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics. But his career decision brought him to Terra State
“I knew I wanted to get into the nuclear industry and Terra State was able to let me get my foot in the door and start my career,” he said.
Last summer, he completed a 10-week internship at Davis-Besse in Oak Harbor.
“I rotated between all the different work departments,” Kuenzli said. “I would follow individuals while they performed different tasks that had been assigned to them.
After the internship, he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Power Technology. He now is an equipment operator at the Clinton Nuclear Power Station in Clinton, Ill., about 35 miles west of Champaign
Clinton is owned by Exelon, the largest nuclear company in the United States
Kuenzli looks back on his time at Terra State and his internship at Davis-Besse as building blocks
“The nuclear program at Terra State gave me a foundation of knowledge that I am able to apply at my current position,” he said. “And the internship gave me a great overview of the industry.
Kuenzli’s goal is to get into management at a nuclear power plant. He is ready
“Terra State has helped me be prepared for it by engaging me in diverse group activities in my class,” he said.