Madeline kozubal wearing mechanics coveralls standing in front of a school bus engine and smiling at the camera

Dual Credit program sparks interest in trades careers

December 4, 2023
Author: Eric Zimmer

Madeline Kozubal shares her story

Madeline Kozubal was working at a mill in the BC Interior when she first heard about VIU’s Dual Credit program.

“I hadn’t finished high school at that point,” she recalls. “I was shadowing some of the welders and the millwrights though, and thought those jobs looked interesting.” 

In partnership with The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District (NLSD), VIU’s Dual Credit program allows Grade 12 students to start their university career early while earning credit towards high school graduation. Students can take up to four courses in their Grade 12 year, with NLSD paying the tuition.

The Heavy Mechanical Trades (HMT) program at VIU originally caught Madeline's eye, but because it was full at the time, she enrolled in the Welding program instead.

“It was probably one of the best times of my life,” she says of her Dual Credit program experience. “The welding program was good, I had a great teacher and some good friends. The high school teachers were really great as well and everyone in the program was patient with me. Until that point, my only other work experience – other than in the mill – was as a waitress, so I was pretty green.”

Madeline completed the program in June 2019 and got a job after a week of practicum with the same company. “They liked me so much by the end of the week that they hired me on full-time. I worked there for about two years.”

She returned to VIU to take her B Level certification in pursuit of a Red Seal ticket as a welder, which she recently obtained. “I was really into art when I was younger and I enjoy welding because it’s kind of like an art form,” she says.

After about a year, she decided to come back to Nanaimo and return to school this fall, this time in the HMT program where she is one of four women in the program.

“I definitely enjoy it,” the 23-year-old says of her experience in the program so far. “I’m interested in problem solving, fixing things and hands-on work.”

Her post-program plan is to head to Alberta “to see what I can find there.”

Looking down the road long-term, Madeline wants to get her own service rig, “so I can go to sites and complete repairs on-location and on my own.”

For those thinking about pursuing a trades path similar to hers, Madeline says it’s worth it and that people generally make back what they spend on training tenfold. She also stressed the importance of showing up for classroom sessions.

“It’s hands-on learning and if you really apply yourself it does pay off, figuratively and literally."

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