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Scholarship winners share their Boilermaker pride

Applicants for 2023 Boilermakers scholarships were asked to write an essay of 500 words or less answering this question:

What makes you proud to be a part of the Boilermaker family?

Following are the essays* that were submitted by Jeffrey Buchheit, winner of the United States’ Charles A. Jones Scholarship Award, and Sam McInnis, winner of the Canadian Edward Power Scholarship Award.

By Jeffrey Caleb Buchheit
Son of Jeffrey Buchheit, L-154, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.” All men wish to lead lives of honor. This virtue that was once so profound seems to be fading: Only in the faint and few men, can honor still be observed in everyday life. What does it mean for one to live with honor? Living with honor means that you do all of your duties to the best of your ability, you will hold true to your promises, you will stand for what is right no matter the circumstance, and you will always put others before yourself. My dad is a boilermaker of Lodge 154. He is one of the few examples of a man that lives honorably. As his son, I have learned many things from him both by his teachings and by observing his behavior.

My dad treats everyone he sees with respect. He taught me how to give a strong, firm handshake and how to be kind and gentle to those around me. I watched him as he carried himself with his chest proud and his chin up. Even through tough times, he walked as if he owned all that of which he walked on. These are things fathers cannot teach their sons with mere words. I naturally tried to emulate his behavior; having realized this, he told me, “You can’t talk the talk, if you can’t walk the walk.” My father has an indomitable spirit: He never quits until the job gets done, and his word is as strong as iron. I was born with this fighting spirit; although, it was my dad who harnessed it and instilled in me the work ethic that has brought me so much success. No matter how many hours he is asked to work, and no matter what day he is asked to work on, he will work because that is his duty. I remember when he tore the head off of his bicep while we were working on the house: He continued to work for two hours before subsiding to the pain—after much reasoning from myself—and calling a doctor.

It is his drive that I admire most about him. My dad being a boilermaker has led to me learning a lot of skills: He has taught me how to weld, and we even do little projects together sometimes. Being a boilermaker has also imbued my dad with a strong work ethic. He makes sure the job is done right and is a “measure twice, cut once” believer.

Many men spend their lives searching for honor, my dad lives it. Try as I may, he always finds new things to teach me. I am his blood, yet I am only half the man he is. Yet, I wish to try to live my life with honor such as his. My dad is my hero, and he is the reason I am proud to be part of a boilermaker family.

By Sam Aiden McInnis
Son of Jason McInnis, L-73, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Being part of the Boilermaker union is a source of pride for many families. The Boilermaker union provides a voice for its members and ensures that their rights and interests are respected in the workplace. I am proud to be part of a Boilermaker family where people work hard every day and proudly contribute to their community. For as long as I can remember, whether hearing stories over the dinner table or meeting other Boilermakers and seeing their kindness firsthand, I have always had the distinct impression of Boilermakers’ deep commitment to each other and their sincere desire to lift the lives of their fellow boilermakers and their families.

I have never known a day in my life where the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, the meals I’ve eaten, the sports and music lessons I’ve taken, or the glasses on my face weren’t paid for by Boilermakers. The Boilermaker union and its members help protect workers’ rights, fair treatment and compensation to better benefits and pensions. Because I am part of a Boilermaker family, I can attend university and pursue my dream of becoming an astrophysicist.   

As I pursue a career in science, I fundamentally believe in a culture of innovation for the progress and growth of our society and to tackle existential challenges like climate change. The historical work of Boilermakers directly contributed to the innovations of the Industrial Revolution, and it is Boilermakers who are contributing to the technological innovations today to solve climate change and deliver a sustainable future. I am proud to be part of a Boilermaker family that knows while much of their work, sacrifice, and dedication is unseen by the general public, our society would not be possible without it. 

And who knows, maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough to work at one of the Boilermaker-built LIGO facilities detecting gravitational waves from blackhole collisions or advancing science at a future facility built by Boilermakers. What I do know is that being in a Boilermaker family has helped to teach me the value of hard work, the value of the ‘unseen’ Boilermaker contributions to our daily lives, and the value of both the family you’re born into and the family you choose at work. 

I will proudly carry these Boilermaker values wherever life takes me.

*Editor’s note: These scholarship essays are the original work of student authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions or standings of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.