DACC’s Kelly takes the road less traveled
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Senior Ali Kelly has switched gears from being in music and the arts earlier in her high school career to a totally different path — she is now in the welding program at the Delaware Area Career Center.
And her future promises to take yet another direction; Ali has decided after graduation to attend the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, part of Universal Technical Institute, in Phoenix. Originally, she was interested in marine mechanics (“I’ve always liked the sea.”), then engineering, followed by art school.
“Every three months it would change,” Ali said.
Then a representative from UTI visited, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“My parents were skeptical at first,” she said of her decision to pursue a career working with motorcycles.
Ali said when she has completed the coursework, she will be able to go to any Harley Davidson shop.
“I can’t wait. Harleys will always break, so I will always have a job,” she said.
Ali also has the option of attending the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where she has a scholarship through her tribe, the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, or Rosebud tribe, from the same area where her mother comes from, so she may end up in South Dakota.
As one of three girls, she was the one who always helped her father with his projects. She played with the boys growing up, but was not a tomboy.
“I still liked the princesses,” she said.
Ali said the pivotal point in her career decision was the failure of the Big Walnut levy and the resulting cuts to the district’s music arts programs.
“My life was gone,” she said of her reaction at the time.
But a visit to the career center opened other doors and had her contemplating either zoo school or welding.
“I’m more hands on” she said. So with her art teacher and a counselor encouraging her, Ali chose welding.
Leah Peck is the art teacher at Big Walnut High School. She said, “Ali is a very talented student with an adventurous spirit. She is also industrious and innovative and not afraid to take the road less traveled with regard to pursuing her interests. I have no doubt she will be successful in all of her future endeavors.”
Being a girl in the DACC welding program, Ali said she does not feel like a minority.
“The guys do not make me feel like it,” she said, admitting her father was worried. “The guys in the class are fine with it.”
Spending time with Ali and making jokes, “they mess with me like I’m one of the guys.”
Though she did find it odd that at USA National, “not a lot of the reps would talk to me, even though I scored 92 on virtual welding.”
Jim Beck was one of Ali’s SkillsUSA advisors last year when she competed in the Chapter Display competition with two other DACC North students. He said Ali and the team received first place honors at the Ohio competition, then captured 10th place representing Ohio at the SkillsUSA National Competition in Kansas City, with Ali as the spokesperson for the team.
“Ali is a driven, creative and hard working person. She expects perfection from herself at all times, thus putting an enormous amount of pressure on herself. Ali contributes positively to DACC in any way that she can, she is a wonderful and conscientious ambassador for DACC,” Beck said, adding, “You have chosen an excellent student to be a Gazette Teen of the Week.”
“Ali is an outstanding young woman whom I have had the privilege to have as a student. Allison has a passion for art and her knowing that welding is a tool that will help her further her life dream of being an artist will serve her well,” said Scott Laslo.
“It is no surprise that Ali has been selected as Teen of the Week. Ali truly is exceptional and is deserving of this award. Her ability to present herself professionally in any situation is one of many attributes that she brings to any situation or meeting. Ali serves as a role model for females in non-traditional occupations. She exemplifies the skills and traits needed by today’s worker regardless of gender and any employer will be best served when they employ her talents. Ali adds value to any group, class, organization etc. that she takes part in. Her leadership qualities are also a direct reflection of the instruction she is being given at the Delaware Area Career Center,” he said.
Ali said she considered sculpture at one point, but later decided “I just wanted to weld.”
For her senior project though, she will work on a piece that will incorporate different textures, colors and designs on sheet metal.
“Welding on its own is an art form,” Ali said.
Ali works for an elderly man in the community – cleaning his house, working outside his home and helping with his meals.
Ali keeps busy with other activities, too. She still participates in music at Big Walnut, is a student ambassador and blogs for the Career Center. She also volunteered at a student-run leadership conference at Hyatts Middle School that helped the younger students get ahead.
With less school work in the picture for the remainder of the school year, Ali said she may soon take on another volunteer opportunity.
“I will have more time,” she said, adding that she would like to get out into the community more with what little time she has left before leaving for school.
Living here since kindergarten, she said she has always wanted to live out of state and loves traveling. Her biggest dream is to travel around the world.
Yet as the months pass, the reality of leaving is beginning to sink in.
“Oh my gosh. The real world is coming and I will not have my dad,” she said.
With the future on her doorstep, she has some sound words of advice for others.
“Honestly, do everything you are offered,” she said. “I was lazy my sophomore year so I missed out. Don’t lose your connections. If you want to do it, do it.”
Ali is the daughter of David and Sue Kelly of Sunbury.