Mason Cosner graduates from Marshall County High School this year and is prepared to enter the career field of electricity. Through his determination and work during his high school career, you might say he’s plugging along.
Cosner is the 2019-20 Student of the Year for the Marshall County Technical Center, selected from the six Associated General Contractors of Western Kentucky Technical Center Students of the Week who were also named from that technical center.
Cosner’s path through high school was unique, to say the least. He was one of 14 students who were injured in the Jan. 23, 2018, shooting at the high school, causing him to miss the SkillsUSA carpentry competition that year.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused him to miss SkillsUSA competitions this year as well, but last year, he won the regional title in carpentry and took part in the state competition in Louisville.
Since being named Student of the Week on Oct. 18, he has kept his skills sharp, working on projects like building a flowerbed and other class projects. He has amassed four years of classwork in carpentry and two in electricity, making him a valuable commodity in the workforce.
“I enjoy seeing the progress of what I’m working on and seeing something good come out of it,” he said.
Cosner has been working at Lovett Electric, with two years of experience under his tool belt.
“Right now, I’m working full-time until I get into an apprenticeship,” he said. “I have already applied for the (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union) in Paducah.”
Cosner said that although his senior year was cut short, he was proud of the work that he put into his classes at the technical center.
Chris Nelson is the executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of Western Kentucky, the sponsor of the weekly Technical Center Student of the Week series published in The Paducah Sun since its inception in fall 2017.
He said the purpose of the series was to help local technical center students find work with local businesses.
“It’s keeping the importance and availability of the skill trades in front of students and parents and the public in general,” he said. “It’s a great educational tool, showing that these are valuable local opportunities right here where students can stay and live and work and have a career.”
Nelson said that the series is gaining popularity locally and nationally.
“Our national AGC picks up the story every week, so it’s promoted nationwide,” he said. “It’s not just here locally and regionally, but those students are getting recognized nationwide through the media sources at our national office in Washington, D.C.
“We’re seeing more students get hired locally. Just last year, they had an article out of Princeton about an electrical student, and he was hired on with the electrical cooperative out of Princeton. … The gap between industry and education is closing.”
Joel Crider, the workforce coordinator for AGC of Western Kentucky and coordinator of the Technical Center Students program, said that Travis Priddle of the Paducah Area Technical Center would get $1,000 as the Region Student of the Year and the other Technical Center Students of the Year like Cosner would get $500.
Sponsors have also provided enough money to buy tools for each winner related to their area of study.
Sponsors of the weekly series were published in full-page ads in The Paducah Sun. Other sponsors of year-end prizes for each Student of the Week include West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Murray State University, Mayfield Electric and Water Systems, Paducah Power System and West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” Cosner said of being named Technical Center Student of the Year. “It’s a reflection of how well (instructors) Shane (Darnell) and T.A. (Evans) have taught me.”