By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register

With school done and college in their sights, high school seniors have been busy preparing for the next big step in their young lives.

Ethan Ness is no different in that regard as he readies himself for this fall, when he’ll begin classes at Mitchell Technical Institute after graduating from Brookings High School on Sunday.

Never one for paperwork, Ness plans to study electrical construction and maintenance as he works towards a journeyman’s license. He likes to fix things, something that he’s learned about himself partly thanks to high school classes he’s taken.

It was in an ag mechanics class during his sophomore year that he was first exposed to electrical work, circuit diagrams and the like.

“It got my attention. When it came around to deciding what I wanted to do with my life, I thought about those things and made my decision from there,” Ness said.

Taking an automotive class this year helped confirm in his mind that this was the right path to follow, as he spent the last several months working on repairing a newly acquired Dodge Ram 1500 that was in tough shape.

“I put all new front-end parts in there. All new shocks, tires, everything. Got all that working and I had to do a few electrical fixes with it” along with several different flushes, he said. “The front end was making a bunch of noise and wasn’t aligned right, so we got it all fixed up. Cleaned up the interior pretty good.”

Projects like that are a great way to get people together, and he had help from his father, friends and teacher as he got the truck back in working order.

Ness has also worked toward learning the art of leadership, participating in FCCLA, leading a sixth-grade religious education course at his church, St. Thomas More, and participating in a high school small group.

He’s also grateful for the educational opportunity that he has thanks to receiving the Build Dakota Scholarship, which offers a full ride to tech students in South Dakota. “I was fortunate enough to receive that scholarship. It will really help me out a lot with achieving my education goals.”

Already with a clear goal in mind – obtaining his electrical journeyman’s license – he’d like to soon start work in an electrical job. A couple companies have already approached him, so he’s eager to begin.

“I want to do that so I work towards my journeyman hours because you need, I think, 10,000 hours to get your journeyman’s license. When you’re at school, you get hours towards that license as well. I want to get my journeyman’s license as soon as I can when I get out of school,” Ness said.

Even though his decision to go into electrical work for a career might have surprised his parents some, it’s no surprise that he’d chose something so hands-on oriented. In fact, his father has taken to teasing that he should join his son at college.

“My dad keeps saying, ‘You think I can go to school with you in the fall and be an electrician? That’s what I should have done, gone to tech school.’ I’m like, eh…. I don’t know if I need you to come to school with me. Need to be independent here,” Ness said.

His father is an Army ROTC recruiter and also in the National Guard.

Fatherly joking aside, Ness is looking forward to the new world that awaits him after he graduates with the rest of his classmates Sunday.

After that, he can begin “moving on from high school, experiencing what the world has in store for you, what God has in store for you. Seeing what’s new and what’s out there. Experiencing college and just enjoying it.”

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