Work isn’t a 4-letter word: Moffat County grad Zach Patterson earns sizable scholarship through Mike Rowe program
Work is not a four-letter word for 2019 Moffat County High School graduate Zach Patterson.
Patterson recently was announced as a recipient of the Mike Rowe Works Foundation Work Ethic Scholarship Program, earning $6,000 to pursue training Western Colorado Community College Electric Lineworker program in Grand Junction.
Patterson said he has had his sights set on a career as a lineman throughout all of high school, though before that he planned to be a pipeline welder until a neighbor advised him in eighth-grade that electrical work might suit him.
“I looked into it and just fell in love with it,” he said.
Patterson, who will matriculate in August, first learned of the Work Ethic funding from MCHS alumnus Elias Peroulis, who earned the scholarship following his own 2018 graduation.
Patterson credited his stepfather, Ed Winters, with pushing him to complete the rigorous scholarship process, which included four written essays.
“He was there every step of the way. It probably took me about a month-and-a-half just to do the scholarship itself,” he said. “Pretty lengthy process, but it was well worth it, that’s for sure.”
Part of Patterson’s application was making a video as part of The SWEAT Pledge, an acronym for “Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo,” a series of mottos that emphasize dedication, gratitude and other traits of worthwhile workers.
“You had to do it on the part of the pledge that really hits home with you,” he said.
The website mikeroweworks.org states that the program’s underlying purpose is to minimize the gap in skilled labor in modern society.
“We’ve proven that opportunities in the trades aren’t alternatives to viable careers — they are viable careers. Through this program, we encourage people to learn a useful skill, and we reward those who demonstrate that they’ll work their butts off. When it comes to hard work, there is no alternative,” the site reads. “Since our inception, we’ve granted, or helped facilitate the granting of, more than $5 million in Work Ethic scholarships and other like-minded programs or initiatives that also work to close the skills gap.”
During his time at MCHS, Patterson was heavily involved in the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter, including earning a state FFA degree and multiple honors in the Agriculture Technical and Mechanical Skills category of the state competition.
Patterson said FFA instructor Rick Murr proved a strong “support system.”
“He taught me a lot of things, like leadership and being on time for things, stuff like that stuck with me through high school. He was able to connect with a lot of kids on such a friendly basis,” Patterson said. “Being aware, always learning and not being afraid to admit when you’re wrong, he taught that, and it will always stick with me. That’s one of the most important things you can take away from a teacher or a classroom.”