Mason Rietveld


Mason Rietveld

At Bay College, students have an opportunity to discover what they want to do with their lives – even if it isn’t what they expected to major in when they started their college education. That’s been the case for Mason Rietveld, who is currently working to earn a welding certificate.

Mason grew up in Norway, MI, and attended high school at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools. He graduated from high school in 2020; however, he had already started taking classes at Bay in 2019, thanks to the school’s early college program. This program allows participating students to save money on their first two years of college education, as it pays for them to earn a certificate, degree, or up to 60 credits.

“It was a cheap route to start college classes,” he said.

At the time, his major at Bay was computer network systems security. However, he eventually shifted gears, mainly due to the need for regular recertifications in this field.

“There was a lot of certifications I needed to get, all of which expired after two years,” Mason said.

Fortunately, it didn’t take Mason long to decide what his new career should be. Around this time, he happened to discover an interest in welding.

“I did some welding in Iron Mountain – just some test pieces, but I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.

Inspired by this, he switched his focus and started working towards earning a welding certificate at the start of the fall 2021 semester.

As of mid-October, Mason said this change has been working out well for him.

“It’s really nice, actually. I’m learning a new skill, and you’re actually hands-on, doing something,” Mason said.

He noted that he has particularly enjoyed oxy-fuel welding.

As a new welding student, Mason has greatly appreciated the assistance and feedback provided by his teachers.

“They’re really enjoyable to work with. They understand when you don’t know what you’re doing, and they’ll teach you if you’re doing something wrong,” he said of his instructors.

Since Mason lives in Waucedah Township, MI, his education at Bay has required some long drives. However, he said the benefits of taking Bay classes outweigh the length of his commute.

“It’s a bit of a stretch to get to Escanaba, but it’s not bad,” he said.

Currently, Mason is on track to earn a welding certificate at the end of the winter 2022 semester. After that, he hopes to find employment in the place where his time as a welder began.

“I was looking at Systems Control in Iron Mountain – seeing if they needed welders,” he said.