Sole Education Fall 2019: Meet the Students

Sole Education Fall 2019: Meet the Students

We are excited to bring Sole Education back for a second semester! This time, we decided to bring on three new students, with three different skilled trades paths. Let’s jump in and meet them!

Meet Michael:

My name is Michael. I am fifty-three years old and have worked in professional sales for over twenty-five years. I live in Westerly, RI, and have been married to my wife, Tonya, for twenty-seven years. We have one child, Benjamin. He is a freshman at Providence College.

I LOVE the trades! Since the age of six, I had a keen interest in tools and trades. Sole Education Participant, Michael BilottiMy Dad, Pat (retired), was a hard-working man. Although he did not work in the trades himself, he was a very skilled handyman. As I grew up, he taught me much of what I know today and fostered my love for working with tools and using my hands to solve problems. To this day, he is my role model.

Throughout middle and high school, I elected to take Shop classes and completed all of my college prep requirements ahead of schedule so that I could participate in our Cooperative Education program. That program allowed me to leave school early and work in the trades.

After high school, I became the first person in my family to attend college. Since graduation, and I have lived a very productive and secure life. Yet, I always felt I ignored my true passion and strong desire to work in the trades.

At age 53, I have embarked on the next phase of my life. I work for A&L Mechanical as an Apprentice Plumber and am enrolled in Plumbing school with the Rhode Island Association of Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors. I LOVE it! Not only am I learning something new every day, it feels great to solve problems and help people when they need it the most.

Good days, bad days, all days bring a smile to my face!

Meet Riley:

My name is Riley Schwab, I am 19, and I was born and raised in a small southern Iowa town called Lamoni. My family owns a cattle ranch that I have worked on my entire life.

I wasn’t planning on continuing my education after high school but decided Riley Schwabthat it would be a smart idea to have a backup plan in case something happens with our ranch.

I am in my second year in the Heating, Air conditioning, and Refrigeration program at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.  Before coming to DMACC, I had no idea how an HVAC system even operated, but through my training and a summer internship, I have gained so much knowledge.

This past summer, I worked for Schaal Heating and Cooling for my internship hours and was able to understand the industry and how it works. I’m enjoying my time at DMACC so far, and I am happy I decided to attend this college!

Meet Logan:

My name is Logan Lawson. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in Clearfield, IA. Clearfield is a tiny town, and half of my family lives there. I am currently going to Southwestern Community College in Creston, IA, for welding, and this my first year. I never welded before in my life. Even though we had a welding shop in my high school, I never did it.

All throughout high school, I took carpentry classes. My dad is a carpenter, and Sole Education: Logan LawsonI was good at it too. When I graduated from high school, I went to Denison Job Corps for carpentry. I was there for a year and got my diploma. I was so happy that I got it. When I got home, I started working for a carpenter. I was doing good, but I wasn’t making enough to pay my bills. They would cut my hours, and I had enough. I decided to look for a different carpentry job, but couldn’t find any. My mother told me that Dalton AG, Inc. was hiring,  so  I applied and got a full-time job working in fabrication and assembly, and have worked with them for the last year.

We have welders there as well, I was never interested in welding, but my boss told me to try it out, and I liked it. It wasn’t long after that I told my boss that I am going back to school to get my welding degree.

I have three jobs now. I still work at Dalton’s part-time in the mornings from 6 am -10 am, and my second job is in the evening from 4 pm -8 pm at Wellman’s. Both are factory jobs, but it pays the bills. On the weekends, I work with my dad doing side jobs. The reason why I work three jobs is to help my mother and brother. They enjoy it and are glad that I can help out.

When I get my degree, I plan on finding a job around Maryville, Missouri, as a welder.


Follow along with our students’ progress here.
Learn more about the Generation T movement here.