Amarillo College graduate discovered her niche in the welding program

By Joe Wyatt

Published May 6, 2021

Emma Womack might not be the first Amarillo College student to switch her major from dental hygiene to welding, but because she did, her own smile seems to be shining just as brightly as any of those she might have helped embellish.

Emma Womack  spring 2021 graduate Web

Emma Womack

“AC has a great dental hygiene program, but soon after I got started I realized that it probably wasn’t the career for me,” Womack said. “I like being active and creative, and knew I’d be happier in a field where I’d be making things. Dental hygiene just wasn’t going to give me that outlet.”

So, the 2016 graduate of Bushland High School stopped out of school for a while to reconsider her options. Then one day, Womack’s father gave her a rudimentary welding lesson and she was hooked. She immediately enrolled in AC’s welding program.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “There’s a lot more to welding than I thought. I’ve never worked so hard at something in my life, but it was a real confidence boost. I was the only woman in the class and I was able to keep up and hold my own.”

As a result, Womack, who in April started working for a welding contractor, will be one of about 1,200 AC students eligible to participate in twin outdoor graduation ceremonies on Friday, May 14 at Hodgetown Stadium in downtown Amarillo.

Brittani McGhee Smith Web

Brittani McGhee-Smith

That tally includes both spring and summer graduates. It also includes 45 high school students in the Degrees and Diplomas dual-credit program, each of whom will receive degrees from AC prior to attending their own high school graduations.
The first AC ceremony at Hodgetown begins at 3 p.m. and will be a celebration of graduates from the Health Services, Industry, and Public Service communities.

At 7 p.m., graduates from the remaining career communities will be honored, those being Business, CIS, Creative Arts, Education, Liberal Arts, STEM and General Studies.

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremonies would be conducted at the same times on the following day – Saturday, May 15 – at Hodgetown. Both ceremonies will be live-streamed: watch here.

Each ceremony will feature a student speaker.

Brittani McGhee-Smith is the speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony. She received her Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) credential from AC in 2015 and has worked in the nursing home at the VA Hospital ever since. At this commencement she is graduating with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).

Garrett Miller   commencement speaker Web

 Garrett Miller


The 7 p.m. student speaker will be Garrett Miller, a business administration major who plans to transfer his credits to Texas State University next fall. He was a Presidential Scholar at AC, and he served as an officer in the Student Government Association. For the past year and a half, he has worked for AC’s Career and Employment Services on the Washington Street Campus.
Womack, the newly certified welder, is part of the Industry community and therefore will take part in the earlier of the two ceremonies.

“I was like a lot of people that think they know what they want to do and then realize they are not so sure,” Womack said. “I was discouraged when many of my friends were finishing degrees and I had gotten behind, but the welding program reversed that mindset for me. “It turns out that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there. I’m doing what I was meant to do all along, and I’m not behind anymore.”