Whittier Tech Senior from Haverhill First to Earn American Welding Society Distinction

Racheal Galicia of Haverhill recently became the first Whittier Tech student to earn the American Welding Society’s Certified Welder distinction. (Courtesy photograph.)

Racheal Galicia, a Haverhill senior at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, recently became the first student there to earn an American Welding Society’s Certified Welder distinction.

Galicia has worked at Salem Metal since spring 2021 as part of Whittier’s Cooperative Education Program. Salem Metal supported her throughout this certification process, teaching her precision Tungsten Inert Gas, TIG, welding and allowing her to take time off to earn the achievement. Galicia plans to attend the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to study Pharmacology and Toxicology.

“Even though I may not be pursuing welding right out of high school, going for this qualification was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” she said. “The work I have put into welding the past three years was worth it because I have skills that many other high school students don’t.”

To achieve the certification, Galicia had to pass AWS’s practical exam. Whittier Welding Instructor Stephen Palmer helped prepare Galicia for the series of weld tests and the exam was overseen by certified welding inspector Chris Gerber. It included three timed welding tests in different welding positions, including the horizontal, overhead and vertical positions. Gerber inspected Galicia’s work throughout the tests to ensure it met the high standards set by the American Welding Society.

Superintendent Maureen Lynch said the certification is especially timely, coming in advance of National Welding Month.

“All of us here at Whittier are immensely proud of Racheal’s accomplishments, who as a female is a non-traditional welder,” Lynch said. “She has defied stereotypes and proven that welding is a field in which anyone can have success. She also has achieved this success despite the challenges of remote learning due to the pandemic.”

In Grade 9, Galicia chose to follow in her older brothers’ footsteps and pursue welding. She also chose to pursue it because of job industry demands, the technical skills offered and because she is a hands-on learner.

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