A new craft provides a new start for Sweeny grad
In his own words, Sam Harkreader was “young and living the good life.”
Sam, a Sweeny High School graduate, was living in the Arlington area with his wife and young daughter. He was also making a good living with oil and gas investments and a business he started with his father. No doubt, life was good.
Then the oil and gas industry began making a downturn and their company was in jeopardy. In an attempt to salvage the business, Sam made a sacrifice — himself.
“My father was talking about not taking a paycheck so he could pay me and help the business make it through everything,” Sam said. “I told him to either lay me off or I would quit. He was too close to retirement and I wasn’t going to jeopardize that for him.”
As a result, Sam and his family left their Arlington home and moved back to Brazoria County. For a short time, they lived with his wife’s family in Lake Jackson before eventually moving into a fifth-wheel camper, while Sam worked to get back on his feet selling insurance.
Soon after, he saw an ad for Brazosport College’s Jumpstart program, advertising free workforce training.
“You wake up and realize that you have a wife and a child, and there isn’t much of a future without training,” Sam said. “So, we rolled the dice.”
Nine weeks later, Sam completed the Jumpstart’s millwright training program and was ready to begin seeking a new career.
“Jumpstart taught me a new craft and allowed me to get my foot in the door and prove my work ethic,” Sam said. “It gave me the tools to get in. The instructors take their time and have patience.”
Today, Sam is working his way up in a new industry but, more importantly, he’s able to support his family. He’s even considering the possibility of enrolling in machining classes at Brazosport College to increase his skillset even more.
As for the Jumpstart program, he doesn’t hesitate to offer an opinion.
“Do it — just do it,” he said. “If it’s a question, don’t let your own fear hold you back. I could have easily done that, but I did it. Overall, my income has increased by about 50 percent because of the classes here.”