Calamus-Wheatland graduate Jake Jensen is a big believer in the notion that hard work pays off.
He also is living proof of it.
The 18-year-old Calamus native graduated high school in December, a decision he made after a teacher told him he had the potential to do so. If, of course, Jensen was willing to work for it. His teacher said he potentially could graduate early, if he obtained enough credits.
The idea appealed to Jensen, who aspired to enter the workforce as soon as possible.
So, he completed 10 classes in one semester in order to achieve his goal. While it required Jensen to take online courses and invest a lot of time and effort, he was able to make it happen.
And he didn’t stop there.
In January, Jensen immediately enrolled at Clinton Community College and intended to eventually transfer to Scott Community College to take part in the school’s diesel mechanic program.
“At first, I was set on being a diesel mechanic,” he related. “Since I was little, my grandparents owned a trucking company. I’d been around it since I was probably 3 years old.”
After a semester at college, Jensen met someone. It was an encounter that resulted in him moving to Dubuque, where a slightly different, yet highly-lucrative career path began to take shape.
Jensen got a job at John Deere, where he took a position as an equipment operator.
A mere few weeks later, he was offered another position within the company — this one was at Paladin Attachments, which manufactures construction equipment attachments for companies including John Deere.
“I fix equipment manufactured by the company on an as-needed basis,” Jensen explained. “We also do custom work … we install bulldozer blades, put heaters in … anything the customer might want. I do a lot of welding. It’s different every day, and that’s what I like about it.”
Jensen, the son of Shannon Jensen of Wheatland and Jason While of Moscow, Iowa, said his family definitely was surprised he was able to find something he loved so soon after graduating high school.
Jensen said he intends to “work his way up through the ranks” as much as he can, and currently is being trained to fix all different kinds of equipment.
He wants high school students who are unsure if college is the right step for them after graduation to know there are other options.
But, he cautions, there is no easy way to get to where you want to be in life.
Whether a person decides to continue education or not, finding the ideal job requires hard work.
And listening to the advice of your teachers doesn’t hurt, either.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t graduated early,” Jensen related. “For me, it was like each piece of the puzzle just fell into place … things went the way they were supposed to.
“Don’t screw around; look to your teachers for advice. They can do a lot to help you. Get your work done and mind your own business. You don’t have to go to college, but you do have to make an effort. Get your name out there … if you work hard, people will take notice.”