By Colton Pool
West Fargo graduate Zachary Lyon is unlike a lot of college students. While many are trying to find out how they're going to pay for college and what they're going to do after graduation, Lyon doesn't have to worry about either.
Lyon, through North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, signed up for the Komatsu Diesel Tech Program, which sets him up with an internship at General Equipment and Supplies followed by a full-time job after he graduates. The program will also pay for a hefty part of his tuition.
The program was established, technician and career developer Ann Pollert said, because GES and other companies badly need more diesel technicians.
Real-life experience and full financial aid is quite the package for a college kid starting a career.
"I was always interested in mechanics," Lyon said. "I wanted to pursue diesel mechanics. In West Fargo, I took a class for engines, and I learned a lot of mechanics at home working on vehicles. I learned a lot. It's half learning from teachers and half from experience. I just always enjoyed to learn how everything works."
Pollert said GES will pay up to 100 percent of the NDSCS tuition after the students graduate, but those students have to maintain a 3.6 grade-point average. However, GES will compensate for tuition costs by smaller percentages even if students don't meet that 3.6.
"It's really nice and will really motivate you to pay attention and to do well," Lyon said.
Pollert added: "Everyone learns so differently, but some students, that's just how they learn best is hands-on and being able to do it themselves. That component is huge."
Pollert said this program is also a good benefit for parents who are concerned about financial aid. Pollert, who lives in West Fargo, said parents and students are given tours of the GES shop so they can feel more comfortable with the program.
"When they came and worked here, they already had so much knowledge through those internships," Pollert said of those who went through the program. "They walked in here, and it wasn't like a first day at work."
Michelle Weber, who is the principal at Liberty Middle School, said her son Charley Weber first found out about the program through a West Fargo Sheyenne class—he was elated to find out about careers in diesel technology. Charley job shadowed with GES to see what working with professionals was like. He then interviewed to be a part of the program and was accepted.
Michelle feels good knowing someone is going to mentor her child in the early stages of adulthood, she said.
"Who doesn't enjoy having things paid for and being taken care of?" Michelle said. "It's a phenomenal piece of the pie, but what I think is more intriguing to me is the program. ... They spend a lot of time getting to know those kids."
Charley, who already moved in at NDSCS and is going to be a resident assistant, started classes this week after working at Komatsu during the summer.
"He chose Komotsu because of the people and the culture and what they were about," Michelle said.
Lyon would recommend the program to others. After all, he doesn't have to chase a job or worry too much about how to pay tuition.
"I'm really excited, but I'm also nervous," Lyon said. "It's something new, but I mean it's exciting. I'm really looking forward to it. ... We've already kind of experienced some of the stuff we've been doing in school and the career so it helps us know what to expect."
Read the full article online at westfargopioneer.com.