By Jacob Perkins
Leo Guevara, a 2018 graduate of Graves County High School, has found his calling in machine tooling.
Students from Graves County can take classes in machine tool, welding, electricity, carpentry, health sciences and business at the Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center (ATC).
“Leo came in his junior year and started with us as an intro student.” ATC Principal Mike Miller said. “Typically we take sophomores, but once he got started in the program, he really excelled.”
Miller praised Guevara’s work ethic and said Leo’s great attendance while at the ATC helped him to not face as large of a learning curve coming in a year later than most students.
Guevara admitted that he was hesitant to take the classes, but a little brotherly nudge pushed him into the ATC courses.
“My brother recommended it (the ATC). He took machining and electricity as a senior.” Guevara said. “I was reluctant at first, but it turned into something that I like. It was better than sitting around doing paperwork. So I said, ‘I’ll give it a try’ and that’s how it all started.”
In only his second year in the machine tooling program, Guevara competed in the State Skills USA competition and won the manual machine contest. It normally takes students three years to be able to learn enough to compete at a high level in the state competition.
As a result, Guevara was awarded a scholarship to West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC), where he is now majoring in computerized manufacturing and machining.
“In machining you can make any part and that’s what really amazes me.” Guevara said. “It’s very, very impressive.”
The classes that Guevara take at WKCTC vary a bit from the ones that he took at the ATC.
“It’s a really big change. Here you are in control of everything that you do. You have to discipline yourself to be able to do that,” he said.
Guevara said he has plans to stay in the Graves County area after he graduates.
“My goal is to own my own machine shop where I can make any part,” he said. “Around this area there’s a lot of work with the rivers and the barges. Those people request many parts. I would like to help out with that.
“I really want to stay here. I like the small town, it’s a beautiful place and to have my own machine shop and to be self-employed – that’s the goal.”
Miller credits Guevara’s work ethic and drive as the reasons why he has been so successful.
“When you look at some of the hurdles that he had to overcome and you consider that he excelled in the face of some challenges, I would consider him a success story.” Miller said.