Path Home News CareerTech Champions Issue 41 Aaron Gills – Kiamichi Technology Center and SkillsUSA
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Aaron Gills – Kiamichi Technology Center and SkillsUSA

Mason’s future is still muddy, but built on a firm foundation.

THEN: A Battiest High School student who says he “didn’t really have a plan.” Aaron Gills said he figured he would take welding, like “every other guy.” Luckily, though, his mother intervened. She thought Aaron would be good at masonry and convinced him to sign up for classes at Kiamichi Technology Center. Despite the adage that mother knows best, Aaron still had a case of the jitters when he got to class.

“I was totally green to it,” he said. “I was nervous as a dog.”

His jitters went away, and he started working through class breaks, coming to class at KTC on Fridays when his high school was closed and working hard. With encouragement from masonry instructor Jeff Dunn, Aaron:

  • Learned the proper way to use a trowel, level and string, as well as how to handle the masonry mud, or mortar.
  • Learned how to lay out a wall so it would be plumb and square.
  • Became the Oklahoma Masonry champion at SkillsUSA two years in a row.
  • Began doing masonry jobs for a local contractor while he was still in high school.
  • Was named Kiamichi Technology Center student of the month as a second-year masonry student, based on his excellent attitude, work ethic, scholarship and talent.

NOW: Barely 20 years old, Aaron owns Gills Masonry in Hochatown. He is building fireplaces and foundations for cabins as large as 4,000 square feet. Not only is Aaron keeping busy as a full-time mason, he has had as many as two full-time employees working for him.

And cabins aren’t the only thing Aaron is making. “Making money’s kinda fun,” he said.

His advice to his peers? “If you work hard, you can make something out of your life,” he said.

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