By Bruce Walton
Kevin Gentile said he was nervous to accept his scholarship from the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition on Friday morning.
But he was proud to be its first recipient.
The Salem High School senior was honored Friday at the group’s meeting at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Canfield.
The scholarship is the first of its kind for the 5-year-old organization, which it created to encourage high-school students to continue their skill-trades education after graduation.
Gentile’s parents, Amy and Larry Gentile, said they are proud of their son for receiving the scholarship, especially when he had a difficult time learning in school.
Amy said her son has “worked for what he’s got.”
Gentile spent the past two years in Salem’s machine trades program. He learned more about metal working as a skill trade in the program and concentrated on welding. He said he had a passion for welding since attending the Alliance Career Centre in eighth grade.
Sue Watson, the administrative assistant of the MVMC, announced the scholarship. She said Gentile stood out because of his promise as the kind of student the MVMC wants to assist in starting their careers.
“He had a good grade-point average. He had a good recommendation from his counselor,” Watson said. “He’s exiting a career tech program and he was clear in what he plans to do.”
In addition to his natural drive, Gentile said he also applied himself to honor his late high-school teacher, Todd Vadino, who died in June 2015. Vadino taught Gentile in the machine trades program at Salem and worked closely with him.
“[Vadino] made them feel like they could do it,” Amy said. “That there is not an obstacle they couldn’t [overcome].”
The $1,000 scholarship will go toward Gentile’s tuition for the Mahoning Valley Career and Technical Center in September, where he plans to enter the welding program and receive his certification in a year. The standard tuition for the program is $9,900.
Gentile hopes he can continue his career in welding after finishing the program next year.
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