The ILRA has been awarding scholarships to students in lineman training programs for nearly 20 years. 6 of the 9 winners are in the P3 territories! Join us in congratulating them.
Nearly 20 years ago, the International Lineman's Rodeo Association (ILRA) began awarding scholarships to well-deserving aspiring line program students. Today, the ILRA has given out $100,000 in scholarship money to future linemen nationwide. Each and every one of the recipients so far has had a successful career in the line trade, said Dennis Kerr, scholarship chair, which makes him proud of what the ILRA has accomplished through the scholarship program.
"Many of the scholarship recipients have competed at the International Lineman's Rodeo," Kerr said. "For example, one of the first winners works for Evergy, and for the last three years, he and his team have walked across the stage receiving many awards. One year, they were number one. It makes you feel good when you see that, and it said a lot about the program."
To apply for the scholarship, the candidates must submit a resume, personal essay and two letters of recommendation. The Scholarship Committee, including Kerr, who is retired from DTE; John Bircumshaw, retired from Rocky Mountain Power; Lawrence Kazmierski of Quanta Services; James Lake of Ameren Illinois; and Larry Aguayo of CPS Energy, then score the applications and select the winners.
When the scholarship program first began, Kerr expected to get all the applications from one school. Through personal outreach to many of the line school programs nationwide, however, he has received applications from across the country. For 2020, the ILRA even awarded scholarships to students from new programs, Kerr said. The following photo gallery showcases the 2020 winners for the ILRA Scholarship Program from states in P3's territory.
Twenty-seven-year-old Alexandrea Bryant grew up with a strong interest in science and math and pursuing a career as a lawyer. While she has an immense respect for lawyers, however, she realized that she wouldn't be happy in a desk job. Since she was 15, she has worked at least two jobs to support herself and her brothers, and she has traveled around the country for different opportunities. She worked three jobs totaling 96 hours a week to save up for line school. "I want to be a lineworker for many reasons," Bryant said. "I want to be challenged physically and get out of my comfort zone. I know the value of hard work, grit and determination and having a career. I want to show my little brothers that anything is possible."
Nineteen-year-old Heston Kavanagh is pursuing a career in the line trade because he enjoys working outdoors. While he is aware of the conditions he will be working in and knows the work will be challenging, he said it will be well worth it. His brother works as an apprentice for Evergy in Pittsburg, Kansas, and he is looking forward to following in his footsteps. He is now in the power technology program at Pratt Community College following jobs working for a mechanic and a farmer. "I worked all throughout high school and maintained good grades," Kavanagh said. "I have a good work ethic and interact well with others."
When driving through the country after a major storm, eighteen-year-old Weston Pfeifer remembered seeing linemen working on the poles. From that point on, he knew he wanted to go into the line trade. "I knew this was for me," Pfeifer said. "My dream is to become a journeyman lineman at Midwest Energy."
Twenty-five-year-old Zachary Kearney of Walnut Shade, Missouri, earned his bachelor's degree in multimedia communications and journalism and served as a Disney cast member before transitioning to preparing for a career in the line trade. "I always was stuck in the underlying feeling that what I was doing wasn't important," Kearney said in his application. "My Dad suggested that I become a lineman, and I thought of it to be an honorable career."
Nineteen-year-old Boyd Cole (shown with his class at Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City) decided to follow in his dad's footsteps by pursuing a career in the line trade. "I know it is demanding and dangerous, but it is also rewarding and has a good pay scale," Cole said. He is now pursuing his associate's degree in power distribution from Metropolitan Community College, and he said the scholarship will help with out-of-pocket expenses during his schooling.
Caden Adkins, the son of a lineman, has line work in his blood and has spent many years watching his father compete at the Rodeo. After graduating with his associate's degree in electric power distribution, Caden Adkins is looking forward to a career as an electrical lineman and eventually as a troubleshooter. Adkins, who has his eye on a future career with Wheatland Electric or Evergy, applied for the scholarship to help pay for his schooling. "I enjoy being outside and working with my hands," Adkins said.