Riley Kerr's Success Story

Riley Kerr

Riley's Story

Where you are from: Murrysville, PA

What sparked your interest in a career in the skilled trades?  I have always loved heavy equipment ever since the days I played in the sandbox. I remember reading picture books about the different types of equipment and watching videos of Mega Machines as a kid. My Mom would take me to construction sites to watch the equipment in use, and that got me hooked.  I have also always loved being outdoors. In school, academics were not my strong suit. I found that I had a learning disability that made math hard to learn, but science was easier because it was hands on. This gave me a strong understanding that STEM jobs were not for me, but I could be successful at a hands on career. So, I went to Vo-Tech school for Diesel Mechanics for two years and found that I could do well learning about the equipment as well as operating and maintaining it. When I toured the local Caterpillar dealer and the local Operating Engineers school, I found that there was a demand for operators and mechanics and I decided to study heavy equipment as a career. 

What school will you be attending?   Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport PA

What field of study are you embarking on?  A.A.S. Degree in Heavy Equipment Operation

How did you hear about the 2018 Work Ethic Scholarship? I am a fan of the Dirty Jobs TV show, and I found out about the scholarship by reading about Dirty Jobs and Mike Rowe on the internet.  He is an Eagle Scout like me, and he would talk about work ethic and service at scouting events. My bosses, teachers, coaches and Scoutmasters always told me that I had a strong work ethic, and that encouraged me to apply for the scholarship.

What area of Mike Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T pledge resonates the most with you as your pursue your new career?  First, I am grateful for my parents, teachers, coaches and everyone who has helped me along the way.  But point #7 really resonates with me - the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is. Over the summer I worked both a construction job and as a busser at a local restaurant.  I had to be at the construction job at 6 AM and worked screening dirt, shoveling gravel and mixing cement.  Then I had to go to my busser job and clean tables until midnight or later.  In addition, I cut grass for people in my neighborhood. I was able to save enough money to buy my own used pickup truck which has been really helpful in my job and at school.  I've learned to work hard but dream big.