Archie Andrews

Welding student finds father figures in the classroom

Working as a "surgeon with metal," welder Archie Andrews has high-level skills that companies along the industry-rich Gulf Coast compete to employ. Earning $30 per hour in contract jobs in addition to his full-time job at CBI in Texas City, Andrews owns his own truck and equipment and has found that welding jobs abound. 

“I didn’t see myself (two years ago) making $5,000 a week like I am now. It all started at College of the Mainland,” said Andrews, who gained the skills he needed to succeed in roughly a year in COM's welding certificate program. 

Growing up on a rough street in New Orleans as he says without a father figure, Andrews attributes his current success to welding instructors Doc Miller and Victor Woods.

Before COM, he attended three welding schools, quitting each one. 

“None of them worked out for me," he said. "The teachers didn’t really care.”

Relocating to Houston after Hurricane Katrina, he talked to his brother-in-law, who introduced him to COM’s welding program. For him, instructors Doc Miller and Victor Woods made all the difference between success and failure. 

“They teach you, get down on their knees with you. They care,” he said. “Meeting Doc and Victor took all the negativity out of me. I’m about being positive now. My life has totally changed.”

Miller has noticed the change in him as well.

“He’s really turned his life around,” he explained.

Andrews now travels all over the U.S. for jobs. 

“He’s doing what we taught him to do,” said Woods.

He is grateful for the difference the men he calls father figures made in his life.

“I thank them every other day,” he said. "When I met these guys, they saved me."