How a CNM Welding Degree Helped This 18-Year-Old Dual Credit Student Get a Great Job Right Out of High School

Clay Rexroad recently graduated with his high school diploma and an associate degree and was immediately hired by a local high-end fabrication company
October 14, 2022

When we spoke to Clay Rexroad this week, he’d just gotten off work at Continental Machining where he’s a fabricator. The company produces products for places including Sandia National Laboratories, which means everything is held to precise standards and fabricators like Clay are required to weld at the highest level. 

As a recent CNM Welding and dual-credit high school graduate who’s just 18 and only has a couple months of work under his belt, you might think this kind of work environment would intimidate Clay. But it’s just the opposite.

“I have to be honest and say that thanks to the schooling I got at CNM I have been able to easily land on my feet,” he says. 

Part of Clay’s success is his work ethic of course. He was a motivated student at CNM and at the College and Career High School who took gold in the Welding-Individual event at the SkillsUSA New Mexico Competition and then took 13th place out of hundreds of students at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Clay also gives a lot of credit to his CNM Welding instructors. Coming into the Welding program he was young and sometimes afraid to ask questions, but he says instructors like Trenten Moore and Ron Hackney saw his interest and helped him gain confidence. 

“Both those guys really helped me get out of my shell because it was obvious they cared a lot about their students,” Clay says. “We’ve all had teachers who are just there to teach, which is fine, but Trenten and Ron always went the extra mile. They motivated me constantly and I felt like I owed it to myself, and to them, to perform and be successful.” 

It was actually Ron Hackney who connected Clay with his current employer and Clay started working there part-time before he even graduated. He was offered a full-time job as soon as he graduated.

“Connecting me and so many other students with jobs is just another way that Ron went above and beyond,” Clay says.

Another motivating factor was Clay’s cohort. He says his class was full of talented students.

“All the students worked together, pushed each other, and we definitely grew together as a class,” he says.  

 Every day at his job, Clay enjoys being able to see products come to life thanks to the work he does, and it's even more motivating when those products serve an important purpose. 

“Watching things I’ve worked on go on to help people with their daily lives feels really good,” he says.

His plan going forward is to stay with his current job and keep growing. Down the road he says he could see himself working for Sandia Laboratories, and he eventually wants to own his own business. 

“I’m really excited about my future. CNM gave me a great foundation and I know there will be a lot more exciting things to come,” he says.