Nontraditional student is JCJC’s first female electrical technology program graduate

Written By: Teresa Martin
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Date Submitted: 2012-05-15 14:28:51

ELLISVILLE – Ellisville Junction’s Ronni Welborn was one of about 600 students participating in Jones County Junior College’s commencement ceremonies but she had the distinct honor of being the first female to graduate from the electrical technology program. Ronni is a 28 year-old female and the first lady in the program’s five-years to graduate from the male-dominated program.
“I came to Jones not knowing anything,” said Welborn. “Now I know about electricity. I’ve worked with PLC’s or programmable logic controllers. I know how to operate a Multi-meter which checks voltage and an oscilloscope. I’ve bent conduit and have worked with hydraulics and pneumatics. Not many girls can say that!”
She didn’t just get the one-year electrical technology certificate. Welborn graduated with her Associate in Science degree which took two-years to complete.
“My mom always told me to be self-sufficient and my dad always said if you’re going to do something, do it big or go home. We don’t give up and that’s why I wanted my two-year degree,” said Welborn.
Getting another year of education will prove to be a wise decision, according to her instructors, Stan Lewis and Randy Purdum. Taking the advanced level of the electrical technology program has increased her salary and job opportunities.
“Ronni has completed Electrical level 2 NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certification as well as being CRC and M3 certified,” said Lewis. “She has obtained more hands-on experience, making her more qualified for more jobs. Most entry level electrical technicians trouble-shoot or fix things. Ronni will be able to work with high-voltage projects, supplying power and calibrating it.”
Working at the new GE plant in Ellisville is appealing to Ronni, as are other jobs that boast annual salaries ranging from $85,000 to $132,000 to work off-shore. Locally, Lewis said salaries could be half that for entry-level electrical technicians. Ronni’s motivation to earn her degree didn’t come from the prospects of a good salary though.
“I just want to make my son Jaxon proud,” said Welborn. “I want to be able to take care of him.” 
Ironically, her five-year old son is the reason why she chose the electrical technology program at Jones. Welborn described her son as ‘obsessed’ with electricity.  She recalled him noticing ‘power pole men’ and these inspiring words:
“You can be an electric woman!”
Welborn said she has always been around her older brothers and step brother. However, she loved mostly being with her dad in his shop, “tearing things apart and seeing how things work. My sister and most of the women in my family are nurses. That never appealed to me,” said Welborn. 
As she leaves Jones, Welborn shared, her son’s inspiration has really changed their outlook on their future.
“I’m proud of myself because I earned a two-year degree.  I’m almost 30 years old and I did this! Anyone can do this, but I couldn’t have done it without the financial assistance from the Pell Grant and the teachers at Jones have helped me believe in myself.”
For more information about the electrical technology program call 601-477-4086


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