By JOE VINDUSKA
Barton Community College
Every day is a new chance to turn it all around. Ellinwood resident James “Jimmy” Kinsey is living proof. After many years of battling drug addiction and being in-and-out of prison, he is finally headed toward a better life by pursuing a welding career through Barton Community College.
Kinsey dropped out of high school in 10th grade and spent most of his adult life addicted to drugs, and he knew it was time to do something about the path his life was on.
“It was really difficult when I got out,” he said. “I had a hard time finding a job, but Randy Haddon at Lone Wolf Restaurant, was willing to give me a chance. That means a lot to me.”
He works full-time and is enrolled in the welding program at Barton. He plans to utilize his education to pursue a career in welding or as a springboard into diesel mechanics, which requires specialized technical skills including welding.
“Something hit me,” he said. “I thought, ‘there has to be something better in life.’”
Kinsey found out about Barton’s program while browsing educational materials he was given while in prison.
“I really want to get into diesel mechanics, and there is welding involved in that and depending on how school goes, I may end up just going into welding,” he said. “I know this … I like turning wrenches and I like getting dirty and welding gets me closer to that.”
Going back to school as an adult has been a positive experience at Barton, Kinsey said.
“It’s been great getting to know people,” he said. “The faculty have all treated me well and (welding instructor) Larry Fry is real knowledgeable and he knows what he’s talking about and (Instructor Coordinator) Tina Grillot is great. There isn’t one thing she won’t help me with or one question she won’t answer.”
Kinsey was hesitant to share his story, but he wanted to make people realize there are people and programs out there that can help others turn their lives around.
“I’m not afraid to let people know about it,” he said. “If potential employers were to see this, they’d know I’m not hiding from my past. I’m being straight up about it. I’m making good choices and it feels good. I just want people to know about the opportunities that are out there and, if they are struggling, to not give up. Make that choice to make your life better. Nobody else can do it. Only you can. I had to make that choice. I want to be one of the ones that proves it can happen.”
Barton’s welding certificate is only 16-credits and it can be finished in one semester, so it does not take long to gain the skills needed to start working in the industry. Barton’s welding classes are open for spring enrollment. For more information on the Welding Program or to enroll, visit welding.bartonccc.edu or call Barton’s Coordinator of Industrial Technology Tina Grillot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-792-9325.