Welding student Champaign Walker presents metal sign to Gasoline Alley in Sapulpa

Champaign Walker, a determined young woman with a troubled past, has emerged victorious in her journey of recovery and personal growth. Through her participation in the Women in Recovery (WIR) program and subsequent enrollment in Central Tech’s Women in Welding program, Champaign has defied the odds and is now on a path towards a promising future. 

Born into a challenging environment, Champaign faced numerous obstacles from a young age. Raised by her grandparents due to her parents’ struggles with drug addiction, she eventually succumbed to the same destructive path. At the age of 11, she found herself trapped in a cycle of drug abuse, leading to a turbulent adolescence marked by periods in foster care and a juvenile prison sentence for armed robbery. 

Upon her release at the age of 18, Champaign became a mother, but her battle with addiction persisted. Her life continued to spiral out of control, resulting in the loss of custody of her daughter. It was at this critical juncture that she was presented with a life-changing opportunity to enter the WIR program. 

Initially hesitant, Champaign ultimately chose the path of recovery, entering rehabilitation and making the courageous decision to embrace sobriety. Now celebrating one year of being drug-free, she finds herself in the third phase of the WIR program, working tirelessly to regain custody of her daughter and rebuild her fractured relationships. 

In a remarkable turn of events, Champaign has also been given the chance to attend Central Tech’s Women in Welding program, which encompasses CNC machining, forklift operation, overhead crane handling, and OSHA training.  

At Central Tech, Champaign has found her passion in CNC plasma cutting. Inspired by her grandfather’s work in the field, she initially doubted her mathematical abilities. However, her instructor, Bill Yelley, offered unwavering support and encouragement, instilling in her a newfound confidence. Yelley attests to Champaign’s remarkable progress, noting her dedication and aptitude for complex tasks like computer-aided drafting (CAD) and the meticulous building of intricate designs involving arcs and lines. 

With her newfound confidence, Champaign aspires to become a CNC programmer and expand her knowledge through SolidWorks. Notably, she takes pride in challenging the gender stereotypes prevalent in her chosen field, believing that women deserve equal opportunities to showcase their skills. Her female friends, who excel in welding, serve as a source of inspiration and support. 

Reflecting on her remarkable transformation, Champaign emphasizes the value of the Women in Recovery program and the guidance provided by instructors such as Yelley and Sarah Adcock, who oversee the Women in Welding program. Grateful for their unwavering dedication and non-judgmental approach, Champaign acknowledges the life-changing impact of these programs and encourages others to seize similar opportunities. 

Yelley expresses his admiration for Champaign’s intellect and potential, predicting a bright future for her. Recognizing her talent, a professional draftsman has even expressed interest in reviewing Champaign’s resume. 

Astonished by the opportunities before her, Champaign has surpassed her own expectations and now enjoys regular visits with her daughter, with overnight visits on the horizon. Champaign humbly reflects on her journey, expressing immense pride in her accomplishments and expressing her hope that her grandfather and Yelley share in her sense of achievement. With unwavering determination, she declares, “I did this! It took hard work, time, and effort—but I’m proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.” 

Champaign Walker builds sign design for Gasoline Alley in CAD
Walker builds sign for Gasoline Alley in CAD.
Central Tech student Champaign Walker cuts sign she built in CAD
Walker cuts sign.
Welding student Champaign Walker presents metal sign to Gasoline Alley in Sapulpa
Walker presents sign to Gasoline Alley in Sapulpa.