Jeff Dukes CTE Alumni of the Year

Mr. Jeff Dukes, a pipefitter apprentice at UA Local 85 and 2013 graduate of Arthur Hill High School, has been named the Saginaw Career Complex's (SCC) 2021 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Alumni of the Year. Mr. Dukes earned this award for being a top-performing welder who demonstrates excellent servant leadership, advocates for SCC through community presentations, and empowers students by helping them navigate through mentorship programming.

Mr. Dukes attended the Saginaw Career Complex's welding program as a high schooler. While in the welding program, he was taught a full curriculum that began with the basics of cutting metals to learning the complexities of welding. "The Saginaw Career Complex gave me a feel for what it's like to be in actual working conditions. Two days out of each week, UA Local 85 allowed us to practice our skills onsite to gain experience in a real work environment. Not only did the Saginaw Career Complex teach me how to weld, but they also taught me the business side of the workforce. They (SCC) put us through mock interviews, taught us how to perfect our resumes, and how to socially and mentally prepare ourselves for the real world," recalls Dukes.

Since Mr. Dukes graduated, he has been invited to speak to subsequent cohorts of students in SCC’s welding program, providing insight into the industry. Mr. Dukes stated, "It is always an exciting experience to come back and give students advice on what it is like in the real work environment. I love watching students' faces light up when they hear true stories from a guy who went through their same program and can show that it is possible to make something out of yourself."

Currently, Mr. Dukes is a 3rd-year apprentice at UA Local 85 in Saginaw County. Apprentices onsite at UA Local 85 invite high school welding students to work side-by-side with them. These opportunities provide robust mentoring experiences designed to prepare students for success. Dukes’ former instructor, Douglas Bowen (now retired) says, "Jeff Dukes is one of the best young men that I have had the pleasure of teaching. He has the one thing that cannot be taught - the heart and love for the trade!" Mr. Bowen continued, "Jeff is the total package. He is a rare find as a welder and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I am so very happy for all that he has accomplished, and I know that he will be a leader in the trade."

Justin Pomerville, Business Manager and Financial Secretary for UA Local 85, shared, "Brother Jeffrey Dukes embodies everything great that is associated with Organized Labor. He is an exceptionally hard worker, highly intelligent, and self-motivated." Pomerville further expressed, "Jeff has been an asset to UA Local 85 since his time in the SCC Welding Program and throughout his entire apprenticeship. Because of SCC's fantastic programs and skilled trades apprenticeships, many people in our community will obtain distinguished careers with fantastic benefits and someday be able to retire with dignity. Jeff has excelled on the job, in the classroom, and at every other aspect of the plumbing and steamfitting industry. Local 85 is humbled and honored to welcome Jeff into our extended family as a member and friend. I am proud to represent young men and women like Brother Dukes because of their determination. The working-class labor movement in Northern Michigan is alive and strong."

Jenny Geno, Executive Director of CTE at Saginaw Intermediate School District, commented, "Congratulations are extended to Mr. Jeff Dukes for earning this honor. Saginaw County is fortunate to have such an outstanding individual assisting students in pursuing their dreams. We look forward to recognizing this amazing young professional." Recipients are nominated by industry partners and/or former instructors. Ms. Geno added, "This is the fourth year of honoring former SCC graduates that were successful in their high school programs."

Recognition for Mr. Dukes is scheduled to take place this fall at the 4th Annual CTE Alumni Luncheon with fellow alumni guests. During the luncheon, a panel of distinguished guests and speakers will share their thoughts regarding the positive impact Mr. Dukes has had on youth and the pipe trades.