Former Archaeologist, Small Business Owner among Big Winners of Scholarship

Like millions of Americans, the economy forced Kenny Mayo to start over. His drywall business in Florida dried up. “I began to see a decline in business when builders began using people who would work for lower wages,” Mayo remembered. Despite working part-time jobs and eventually moving to Columbus to find work, he hit an employment wall. That’s when he made a big decision; enrolling at Columbus Technical College to learn a new trade.

Mayo is thriving in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) program at Columbus Technical College. He maintains a 4.0 GPA and recently got 625 more reasons to be excited about the fruits of his hard work. Mayo is one of four recipients of scholarship funding from The Grainger Foundation. Three times per year, four students enrolled in either the automotive, welding, and/or HVAC program have a chance to earn $625 toward their education.



Winners of the latest installment of the Grainger Foundation Scholarship show off their certificates. Front row, left to right are Columbus Technical College students Kenny Mayo, Ricky Kopec, Gary Herman, and James Woodworth. Also pictured are Grainger Branch Manager Brian Brock and Columbus Technical College Dir. of Institutional Advancement Gloria Dodds. Back row: HVAC Instructor Bryan Golden, Columbus Technical College VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Linn Storey, HVAC Instructor Craig Oldenburg, Dean of Professional & Technical Services Meredith Yoe, HVAC Lab Assistant Ron Barfield, and Welding Instructor William Cooper.

After being employed as an archaeologist and losing his job after six years, welding student Ricky Kopec is also looking forward to an additional $625 in his education bank account. In his scholarship application, Kopec wrote, “I made a choice with the support of my wife to come to Columbus Technical College and learn how to weld.” Even though he was scheduled to complete his studies this semester, he wants further education and training. “I decided to stay on to take the pipe welding course, and an advanced TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding class.” Kopec is maintaining a 3.75 GPA and has represented Columbus Technical College at a recent SkillsUSA competition.

James Woodworth currently works in the Information Technology field as a network technician but the HVAC industry is now part of his job. He’s learning how to integrate the technology from both fields to help troubleshoot problems and help customers. “New trends in the technology area and the HVAC field have started to combine the two industries,” Woodworth wrote. “HVAC technicians can monitor computer programs that will let them know if there is an issue and how best to address it.”


HVAC student Gary Herman is an Army vet who enrolled at Columbus Technical College in the summer of 2012. He found himself unemployed for one year after working in the government construction industry. Herman seems confident the HVAC world is for him. “I have always had a desire to be in an alternative energies field and HVAC. I believe specialized systems can be made to increase heat pump efficiency and decrease energy consumption,” he explained. Herman hopes to own his own company providing HVAC sales and service as well as offering alternative energy solutions.

Through a recommendation by Grainger Branch Manager Brian Brock, The Grainger Foundation has renewed its funding for the program by providing a recent grant of $8,000.  This fall (semester) five students per term will be awarded a $550 scholarship to help pay for school.

About The Grainger Foundation
: The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc. 

About Grainger: Grainger has been a part of the Columbus business community for more than 20 years as the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair, and operating products.For further information about Grainger contact: Kristen Lawrence, Communications Manager at