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Kai Graduated from Henley High School in 2022 and always thought she would become a doctor or a veterinarian. The COVID Pandemic hit and Kai’s desires to move across the country and study medicine were replaced by wanting to do something closer to home. Kai headed to Klamath Community College and took a YouScience career Aptitude and Interest test to help her plan her next steps. The results of her aptitude and interests test encouraged Kai to pursue careers in machining, welding, engineering, and mechanics. This didn’t surprise her as she grew up in a mechanically inclined family working on cars. Kai chose to take an entry-level welding class believing that welding was a skill that would always be needed and allow her to make a good living. The beginning was hard, Kai had never welded before. Slowly, but surely, welding started to make sense and it became more fun as her skills progressed. Kai was employed by the welding program as part of her Associate’s Degree work experience. A welding instructor opening came up and Kai was offered a job as a KCC instructor. “The beginning students are my favorite,” said Ranson. “Seeing a new student who has no skills and is full of frustration progress week by week and grow into a competent welder is my favorite thing about being an instructor. Watching the happiness and joy on their faces as they improve makes me enjoy my job.” Ranson’s connection with her beginner students runs deep and she gets emotional when they move on to the next class in the sequence, “It’s bittersweet when they learn the skills they need to move on, I miss them a lot.”

“Teaching is hard, it’s a delicate balance between showing the students what to do and using the correct words to help them understand new concepts,” Ranson added. “Sometimes I have to come up with a different way to explain the same concept to different students and that can be challenging.” Kai currently teaches Welding 101, stick welding, TIG welding, and wire feed welding at KCC. What does the future hold for her? “I would like to explore other career paths that allow me to travel out of Klamath. I can always come home and I can always fall back on Welding. Skills are cool, skills are needed, and skills pay! I’m excited to see so much attention being paid to the skilled trades right now” On being asked about being a female in the trades and a female welding instructor Kai said, “Girls have a place in the trades. I was motivated to show myself I could excel. I wanted to outwork everyone and I came to the welding shop from 8am to 4pm every day to develop my skills. Everyone can do what I did and I encourage you all to try”.

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