The Palmer Pathways Pre-Apprenticeship program held its Winter cohort graduation on Wednesday, April 20th. An alum of the program, Chandler, was a guest in attendance. Little did Chandler know, he would also be recognized during the graduation celebration. Director of Postsecondary Pathways Christina Rupp presented Chandler with the inaugural Don Rupp Craft Scholarship, a scholarship created to honor the life and legacy of her father. Below is the speech Christina presented.
It is now my distinct pleasure to introduce Chandler, one of the founding Pathways Scholars who graduated from our first Palmer Pathways class in June 2020. Chandler is currently in his last quarter at Bates Technical College where he has not only excelled in sheet metal work and welding, Chandler has made the dean’s list every quarter and officially graduates on June 6th, though he will be an eligible apprentice starting in May. The Palmer Scholars team is elated for Chandler and his road ahead.
There’s another reason I invited you here today Chandler. I wanted you to see what your work, efforts, and perseverance have built. Everyone you see in front of you is here because of you and the original Palmer Pathways Scholars cohort from June 2020. This is the door you opened for Palmer Scholars to build a more robust program and a state-recognized pre-apprenticeship…and the barrier you broke down for the next generation of Pathways Scholars. You have built this legacy, as the Pathways Scholars graduating tonight will continue to expand that legacy and lift up the generation of Scholars that comes after them. And of course, there’s one more thing we need to celebrate with you.
On behalf of my family, it’s my honor to present you with the first annual Don Rupp Craft Scholarship award.
In my dad’s memory and absolute passion for the trades, my family established the Don Rupp Craft Scholarship, supporting a Palmer Pathways Scholar every year who pursues a career in the trades. The Scholarship provides for initial dues, tools, books, PPEs, and other apprenticeship fees.
My father was a conventional machinist and vested IAM union member for 49 years. He loved his craft so much that he spent countless hours on Saturdays teaching his daughter and kids from around the neighborhood about the world of machining, car/motorcycle maintenance, and construction trades.
My dad’s mission (though it wasn’t until adulthood I fully understood why he taught all of us on his days off) was to share knowledge, skills, and craft curiosity with the next generation. To breathe life into a craft from one’s own joy, curiosity, and interest. To break down mythologies that a college degree was the only way to shatter economic barriers and change the trajectory of a family’s existence. To realize through hands-on learning that the trades are noble, around us everywhere every day, and our entire world depends on the trades for goods, services, infrastructure, and more.
Chandler, you embody everything my dad represented in the trades – humor, heart, joy, passion, unending interest in learning and improving yourself and your community. May you find the same endless love of your craft my father did for his, and may your career provide you years of happiness, purpose, curiosity, safety, and health. Congratulations!!!