A GOOD DECISION
As Dwayne Gapinski describes it, he took a real leap of faith when he decided to switch careers. Now, after graduating from HTC’s two-year heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) program and completing a five-year apprenticeship with the St. Paul Pipefitters Local 455, he is a journeyman pipefitter with Crosstown Mechanical in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gapinski says that leap of faith was a decision that really paid off for him and his family.
“I was 38 years old when I went back to school,” says Gapinski, who had worked in the printing industry for 18 years. “The industry took a real hit after 9/11, and then again when the economy weakened, so that’s when I decided I had had enough.” However, with two children and a third on the way through adoption, Gapinski had responsibilities to meet.
“I did some soul searching,” says Gapinski in explaining how he determined a new career path. “I knew I liked fixing stuff, but I didn’t want to work on cars.” For a while he considered working on printing equipment, but he decided he needed to make a clean break from that industry. Then one of his friends told him that he knew an HTC graduate who said the college had a great HVAC program. That’s exactly what he found.
“It’s an awesome program,” Gapinski says enthusiastically. “A couple of people who were apprentices with me also graduated from HTC, and we realized that we had a lot more hands-on experience than graduates of other schools.” Gapinski graduated from the HVAC program in 2007, and he completed his apprenticeship in May 2013 to become a journeyman pipefitter.
Reflecting on his days as a student, Gapinski says, “I live in Ramsey and I worked in Roseville, and then four nights a week I would drive to the college in Eden Prairie. So I was driving about 100 miles on those days, but it was absolutely worth it.” Studying residential HVAC systems the first year and commercial HVAC the second year, Gapinski began an internship at Crosstown Mechanical the last six months of his HTC program.
“The hands-on experience really helps prepare you for the work,” Gapinski says in assessing the program. Proud to graduate with a 3.9 grade point average, he mentions the excellent facilities at HTC and the wide variety of equipment students work on as keys to success on the job.
“I want to encourage people who may be looking for a job change and tell them that you’re never too old to do it,” Gapinski emphasizes. As he points out, sometimes moving on to something better requires a real leap of faith. For him, it has led to a new career.
Last updated by jhanson : 2015-02-21 13:56:10