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Mother, son bond through welding

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Maria Larios De Ullman and Jorge Larios Diaz, her son, recently completed a welding class together and now work for the same company.

​Not many welders can ask their mother for advice on the job. But Jorge Larios Diaz can discuss technique and more with his mother, Maria Larios De Ullman.

The duo recently graduated from the 14-week welding program at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC)  in Virginia and both now work for the same company.

the mother and son took two very different roads to TNCC. De Ullman learned of TNCC’s manufacturing programs while working full-time assisting homeless individuals.

“I could not attend the day program because I was working, but I later learned of the evening welding program and enrolled immediately,” De Ullman said. “I wanted to switch careers for the higher income. I had tried to pursue it earlier in life but was side tracked.”

After graduating high school, Diaz did not know what he wanted to do. His mother convinced him to enroll in the welding program.

“I was surprised. I enjoyed it, and the program changed my life. I had anticipated working a series of minimum wage jobs, but TNCC gave me a high-paying career in 14 weeks,” he said.

Diaz and his mother took classes together, completing the program at the same time. Such mixing of generations and even family members is not unusual, according to TNCC officials.

“With the changing, economy students in our training programs span different generations,” said Tony Farley, associate vice president for business development and corporate training at the college. “Recent graduates are training with older workers who want to increase their income or with laid-off workers who need to obtain new skills to find a job.”

Training in the same classroom as his mother served to motivate Diaz.

“I worked hard to graduate with my mom,” he said. “I could not complain because she was working a job and then coming to class. She never said she was tired. It motivated me to succeed.”

Having her son in her class also served to motivate De Ullman.

“There was a little competition. Other students compared our welding ability,” she said with a smile.

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