Matt Benchek – mrWF Work Ethic Scholarship
When Matt Benchek was about to enter the 9th grade he had to select three elective courses to go with the mandatory three R’s. He chose Drafting and Accounting. He only chose Accounting because Small Engine Repair was full. But he still needed a third elective. Matt’s mom suggested he take Basic Electrical, but he didn’t like that idea at all. Matt’s mom said, “Well you may not like it, but it could come in handy down the road when you own your own home.” This logic appealed to Matt’s practical side. A side he had recently fine-tuned when he came to the realization that he may not be able to be a professional golfer, a dream he held since he picked up his first club at age 15. So, Matt took his mom’s advice and signed up for Basic Electrical. And something very strange happened in that class – Matt discovered that he actually liked it.
“I had a knack for it and picked it up fast. Once I researched it more, I found out there was a lot more to electricity than I ever thought. I could work on anything from small electronics to high voltage.”
By the 10th grade, Matt knew he wanted to make this his vocation. So, he set his sights on an electrical career and did what any future work ethic scholarship recipient would do – he worked his butt off. It paid off as he was inducted in the National Technical Honor Society. And Brock Jaquith, Matt’s Electrical teacher took notice. When Larry Hyer, owner of Hyer Electric, stopped by to tell Brock he was short on employees and needed a “good worker,” the first name that came to Brock’s mind was Matt Benchek.
In June of 2015, right after graduating Pennsylvania’s Corry Area High School, Matt went straight to work at Hyer Electric. He was shadowing technicians; rewiring houses, trouble shooting motors, and installing generators. Matt was getting on the job training but he knew there so much more to learn, so in September of that year, he enrolled at Triangle Tech in Erie, PA.
While searching for scholarships, Matt found a name he recognized – Mike Rowe. He knew Mike from Dirty Jobs but had no idea he was giving away a pile of free money to people learning a skilled trade.
Sixteen months later, in February 2017 Matt graduated Triangle with an Associate’s Degree in Maintenance Electricity and Construction Technology with the Outstanding Academic and Attendance Achievement Award.
I asked Matt what his parents think of his career choice, “My dad likes that I’m doing something that not everyone else is doing, and mom likes it because I can fix things around the house.”
Matt is currently working full time at Hyer Electric. In his spare time you can find him on the golf course – just not on the pro tour.
If you are interested in following opportunity like Matt did, the 2017 Work Ethic Scholarship Program is going on now. Learn more at mikeroweWORKS.org/scholarship