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‘Going to this school was a really good opportunity for me.’ Lanier College and Career senior Wyatt Wallace has head start on aviation career
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Lanier College and Career Academy's Wyatt Wallace - photo by Scott Rogers

At 17, Wyatt Wallace will graduate from Lanier College and Career Academy with nearly two years of work experience with Kubota, a tractor and heavy equipment manufacturer, and will be preparing to move on to the final years of his education for aviation mechanics. 

He said his high school, which focuses on developing students in a work-based learning environment, was key to his endeavors to jump start his life.

“I mean, you learn a lot — a lot — from getting into jobs early,” he said. “And I’m at work until probably 6 or 7 o’clock every day.”

Wallace said from a young age his father and grandfather instilled in him a love for tinkering and fixing, as well as a deep appreciation for hard work. 

“My daddy, he’s always been the hardest worker I know — he’s always trying to make that money, and he’s always taught me how to work on stuff,” he said. “I’ve got a truck, and I’ve done everything to it — the lift kit, messing with motor — I’m always working on something.”

So, during school at Lanier College and Career Academy, Wallace said he spent as much time as he could focusing on his on-the-job training. 

Class of 2021

Read stories of outstanding seniors across Hall County in our Class of 2021 special section. Pick up a copy of the print publication, which lists names of all the graduating seniors, inside the May 8-9 weekend edition of The Times.

Wallace said his work ethic and an early appreciation for fiscal responsibility also came partially from watching his family struggle with their construction business during the economic recession in the late 2000s. He credits his grandfather with teaching him the importance of saving money.

Wallace said in his junior year, he’d spend three hours in class and the remainder of the day on the job. In his senior year, he spent between one and two hours in class and six to seven on job sites, a reality he said he preferred.

“Going to this school was a really good opportunity for me,” Wallace said. 

The teen said he appreciates the recognition from schools like his that not all students must or even should seek a four-year college degree. He said schools like Lanier College and Career Academy recognize the continued need for a workforce with skilled laborers.

“They need airplanes to fly, they need cars to drive, they need mechanics and stuff to be built and whatnot. So they’re highly needed,” he said. 

Even when COVID-19 closed school buildings and forced Kubota and other work-based learning partners to send students home, Wallace said he continued working on job sites with his father’s construction business. He said his biggest challenge was dealing with online learning, but he stayed on top of school with his goals in mind.

That determination is why staff at his school said Wallace embodied the essence of Lanier College and Career Academy: students who want to work hard and make a future for themselves sooner, rather than later, in in-demand careers.

For his part, Wallace said he’s grateful for the school and its staff, which he said were laser-focused on getting students prepared for high-demand and high-paying trade careers and doing so with obvious care.

After two years at Augusta Technical College, beginning in the fall, Wallace will emerge a trained aviation technician with the skills to work for large commercial air transportation companies like Delta, manufacturers like Lockheed Martin or more private airports and estates. 

Given his choice, Wallace said he’d like to work for a “millionaire or billionaire” living somewhere rural and with a personal fleet of aircraft. That, he said, will give him a chance to do what he loves and continue to build the type of life he wants to live.

In the meantime, he said, he’s just eager to get started with any aviation opportunity he can find after college — and he likely won’t have to wait long.

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Lanier College and Career Academy's Wyatt Wallace - photo by Scott Rogers