Female student achieves first for school, state

Practical Welding Today March/April 2006
March 7, 2006

Jessica Jelinski takes pride in doing her best when it comes to welding -- that's what propelled her to win first place in the SkillsUSA Wisconsin state welding competition in 2005. Today she uses that work ethic to further her welding career and teach other young people about the trades.

Jessica Jelinski (center, with medal) celebrates her first-place victory in last year's Wisconsin state SkillsUSA welding competition withfellow Lincoln High School students, who participated in other areas of the contest, and their adviser.

Jessica Jelinski bases success on one simple fraction.

"Nine-tenths of your success is in your confidence," she said. "If you believe you can succeed, you will."

The other tenth comprises skill, practice, and a commitment to learn.

This philosophy took Jelinski from her first high school metals classes to center stage as SkillsUSA's 2005 Wisconsin state welding champion. She's the first student from Lincoln High School, Wisconsin Rapids, and the first girl in Wisconsin to win first place in the state's welding competition in at least 14 years.

Jelinski currently is a second-year welding student at Mid State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. She also talks to high school students about getting involved in manufacturing.

"I am proud to be one of few female welders out there in an industry mostly dominated by men," she said.

She first got involved in SkillsUSA in 2004, when she won first place at the regional welding competition and went on to the state contest. Although she didn't place at state that year, she planned to try again.

Jelinski won the regional competition again in 2005, and this time, after competing at state against a few dozen high school boys, she became the 2005 Wisconsin state welding champion.

"I had more experience and more drive to win, since it was my last year in high school," she said.

She didn't place in the national competition, but Jelinski doesn't let it bother her because she has her eyes on a bigger prize: a future as a welder.

Scott Benitz, Jelinski's welding teacher in high school, sees promise in her future.

"She was willing to work as hard as she could to learn the skills and the knowledge components and [go] above and beyond the reading assignments by reading additional materials," Benitz said. "She really had the desire to learn. There [are] a lot of kids that have skills, but not everyone's willing to prepare for those contests the way she did. She's going to go pretty much as far as she wants."

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