Sparks of inspiration: empowering youth with a mobile welding experience

Sparks of inspiration: empowering youth with a mobile welding experience

In a collaboration that ignited the flames of ambition and opportunity, NAYA joined forces with Portland Community College (PCC) to offer a unique spring camp experience for our high school students. At the heart of this partnership was PCC’s special mobile welding unit, providing campers with a hands-on introduction to the world of welding and fabrication.

As the sparks flew and metal sizzled, the campers, donned in their safety gear, got to work under the guidance of experienced instructors from Portland Community College. For many of them, this was their first time wielding a welding torch, but in the supportive environment of NAYA, they quickly found their confidence and discovered new passions and talents.

This special mobile welding opportunity is just one of the many ways that NAYA’s College and Career Services supports youth on their journeys beyond high school. Recognizing that traditional educational paths may not suit everyone, NAYA is also dedicated to providing alternative avenues for success, tailored to the unique needs and interests of each student.

NAYA’s College and Career team understand that education is the key to unlocking opportunities and breaking barriers–that’s why NAYA offers a comprehensive educational re-engagement program designed to support youth who have disengaged from traditional schooling. Whether it’s through tutoring, mentorship, or guidance counseling, NAYA ensures that every young person has the support they need to succeed academically and beyond.

For those who are interested in pursuing their GED, NAYA offers GED supports and incentives, with onsite GED testing on the horizon. And for those who dream of pursuing careers in the skilled trades, NAYA’s upcoming pre-apprenticeship program will offer a pathway to success. Through partnerships with local unions, NAYA will give youth the opportunity to explore these careers in a safe and familiar environment, introducing them to living-wage careers in high-demand industries.

“I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformative power of hands-on experiences like our mobile welding unit. This unique opportunity not only exposes our youth to valuable technical skills but also ignites a passion for learning and exploration,” stated College and Career Readiness Manager Auna Castellon, “At NAYA, we believe in providing comprehensive support and a holistic approach to empowering young people to thrive in their chosen paths.”

“Portland Community College values our longtime partnership with NAYA and is excited to share new opportunities for education and workforce development, with a focus on access for BIPOC communities,” said PCC President Dr. Adrien Bennings. “PCC’s Mobile Welding Outreach & Skills Training Center is made possible through generous funding by Union Pacific–an impactful collaboration that brings the classroom to students, introducing youth to new pathways for a future in high-demand, high-wage careers.”

NAYA’s College and Career Center also offers services to prepare youth for college, including school search and exploration, standardized test preparation, admissions and scholarship assistance, and educational workshops for youth and families.

As the campers wrapped up their day of welding adventures, they left NAYA with more than just newfound skills; they left with a sense of empowerment, confidence, and excitement for the future. After the experience, one student affirmed that she is confident about pursuing a career in maritime welding!

For more about NAYA’s College and Career services click here.

Reclaiming Our Past, Cultivating Our Future

50YR Impact Fact: 349 students were served by our College and Career team in 2024