(Note: In recognition of the vital role hands-on education plays in our schools and communities, this is one in a series of stories of success achieved by local students who participated in the Career & Technical Education program through the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District.)

On campus at SVSU

Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education serves many students in many different ways. Jon Damzyn arrived a little late to the CTE party, but that’s probably because he was busy doing 14 other things.

Damzyn is your classic do-it-all high-achiever with an impressive list of accomplishments at a young age: Top Ten at Gladwin High School, four-time MVP on the varsity golf team, two-time All-Stater and state qualifier, Positive Athlete awardee, four-year employee at Gladwin Heights Golf Course, home-based entrepreneur, National Honors Society member, Relay for Life Team/Staff Leader, Robotics Club Electrician and Rube Goldberg champion.

Damzyn, who graduated from GHS in May with a 4.0 grade point average, is studying Electrical Engineering at Saginaw Valley State University. His experience in CTE’s Advanced Integrated Manufacturing & Engineering program gave him a great early look at the career he’s now chasing.

On the links

“I’m attending SVSU to study Electrical Engineering,” Damzyn said, explaining what drew him to this career pursuit. “The magic behind electricity inspires me to know more. After looking into the future it could lead me to, the experience and the impact the job could have for the future of electrical power, I was intrigued to know more.”

Damzyn credits the passage of the CTE millage in 2016 with nudging his interest in the AIME class, which is offered as a dual enrollment with MMC.

Receiving a $2,500 scholarship from the Central Michigan Manufacturers Association

“AIME was introduced to me when the millage passed through and newer classes started to form, like Advanced Manufacturing,” he said. “I hoped to learn something new, and not only did it do that, it also contributed to a third of my entire résumé in experience and skills gained. Our high school couldn’t provide the same shop experience that I received in AIME.”

Receiving the Positive Athlete Award at Comerica Park

Damzyn’s interest in Electrical Engineering got a big boost in CTE.

“Having shop experience opened new areas to pick from and gave me a level of respect for shop work,” he said. “I had my mind set on Electrical Engineering and I found this was a good starter class to know more about general engineering processes through the shop aspect.”

While CTE aims to introduce students to potential careers and offer certifications that may apply, students also pick up valuable soft skills that have the potential to last a lifetime. That was certainly Damzyn’s experience in CTE.

“The experience in the shop and knowing more about MIOSHA safety is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “What I learned in CTE was something completely new that I may add to my bag of tricks and experience.”

Asked what he would tell students considering CTE, Damzyn is unequivocal.

“Any student should take as many CTE classes as they can take that pertain to their major,” he said. “I wish I started sooner so I could take advantage of the many benefits. I find some of the knowledge I gained from class helped in knowing on a college level which next level classes I should take, which is better than going with whatever the advisors think you know. Having college credits can not only translate to your profession, but it can also give experience and confidence to know what level you can perform at.

“Because of CTE, I was able to spend my time experiencing things related to my major,” he added. “Not one human’s career is exactly the same, so why should everyone follow the same curriculum?”