Like many teenagers who don’t yet realize their potential, Gavin McInelly (pictured above) was succeeding in high school but was not fully applying himself. However, when his grandmother died two years ago, everything changed. She had always made it a point to encourage her grandchildren, and then she was gone. Inspired by her loss, McInelly resolved to work harder and achieve more.
“My grandmother’s death was not the first death in my extended family, but it was the one that hit me the hardest,” McInelly says. “Her passing hurt me more than anything could have, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and all the life lessons she taught me.”
“After my grandma’s death, I started to realize that my mediocre grades would not get me into college, so I enrolled in NAVIT welding classes, expecting to just coast through. But once I was in NAVIT, I learned about NPC and that I could earn my college degree. NPC showed me that I could even go on to a university with scholarships, and so I decided to work very hard for that.”
McInelly, age 18, recently graduated from Show Low High School and earned an associate degree in welding from NPC at the same time. Creating a unique niche as a successful poet and welder, he served as president of the afternoon NAVIT welding class at NPC, earned an All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship (which covers full tuition costs at any state university) and published three books of poetry! He has self-published “Pretending,” “Read This While Driving” and “Words for the Deaf,” available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback.
“I have several poems about my grandmother in each of my books, and they’re all very happy,” McInelly says. Two others also served as sources of inspiration for his poetry: NPC English instructor Ron Goulet and the works of the late writer Charles Bukowski. Professor Goulet is even now using McInelly’s poetry in one of his classes as a teaching aid.
McInelly said his poetry writing was an accidental thing that began at a time when he was going through some rough stuff and couldn’t sleep. He’d get up on those nights and write poetry. “After a few months, I had a small collection of poems, and I decided on impulse to publish them on Amazon one night. When people started reacting to it, I was so happy that I couldn’t stop writing.”
The combination of poetry and welding is unusual, and McInelly said he never expected it to happen. He is merely seizing every opportunity he encounters and says it’s working out well for him. “I do understand that it’s a weird combo, being a welder and a poet. But I think that’s part of the fun. I am being myself and doing what I want to do.”
If his grandma could witness her grandson’s emergence, she would be pleased to see how he is fully applying himself now. He’s welded to poetry and success.
– Dennis Durband