Ryan Bouland – mrWF Work Ethic Scholarship
All Ryan Bouland wanted to do was play music. From the first time he picked up the tuba in 6th grade he knew that music would always be a part of his life. At age 15 he got his first real taste of it. He roadied for his uncle’s Grateful Dead cover band, gr8FLdüde & frenz. Ryan even got to fill in on bass a couple of times. After all, the tuba is the bass of horns. He loved the idea of a future filled with playing music and being on the road. But was that really practical?
During his high school sophomore year, Ryan met two teachers that would help him figure it out. The first was Darius Freeman, Ryan’s assistant band director at Heritage High School (Conyers, Georgia). Mr. Freeman was a positive male role model for Ryan.
“He taught me to be more respectful.”
The second was Amy Carter. Mrs. Carter taught Ryan at nearby Rockdale Career Academy. RCA is a tech school that prepares students for careers, and Ryan split time between there and Heritage.
“Mrs. Carter got me going in the right direction. She and Mr. Freeman are the best people and mentors I have ever known.”
By the time Ryan’s senior year rolled around he was studying graphic design and robotic manufacturing at RCA, playing tuba in the school band at Heritage, and working part time at Dart Container. Even with the great mentoring he received from Mrs. Carter and Mr. Freeman, Ryan wasn’t exactly sure where his future would lead him.
After graduation he started working full time at Dart. After 2 years he was moved from day shift to the 12-hour night shift. Five months of working all night took its toll.
“I hated my life, and my life hated me.”
Ryan realized he needed to get himself a career; preferably one that would allow him to sleep at night. He remembered one summer vacation working for a neighbor repairing motors for cars and lawn equipment. Ryan really enjoyed the work but had never considered it as a vocation until this moment.
“I enjoyed welding and fabricating and being hands on, so I decided to research welding schools and came across Georgia Trade School. My grandfather came across an article about the work ethic scholarship and said that I should apply. So I did just that, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
Ryan started classes at GTS in September of 2016 and graduated in January of 2017. Due to the mrW scholarship and his job at Dart, Ryan was able to graduate debt-free.
Today, Ryan works full time as a welder at Frey Moss Structures where he builds the steel frames for gas stations and car washes. This August, he will begin taking engineering classes at Georgia State University.
Even though Ryan has found his career, music is still a very important part of his life.
“One thing that will never die in me is the love for music.”
He goes to hear his uncle cover the Grateful Dead, still plays guitar and bass for fun, but he doesn’t play the tuba any more. I’m sure his neighbors are grateful.