Harper College

Ten Questions with Jonathan O'Grady

jonathan o'grady

When Jonathan O’Grady was in high school, he struggled with subjects like reading and writing. Being dyslexic, he was instead drawn to anything that allowed him to work with his hands and apply his exceptional visual skills. When he discovered BattleBots, a robot combat competition, a door opened and he was inspired to build robots of his own. 

This passion led him to take dual-credit manufacturing courses at Harper College in subjects like precision machining and CNC (Computer Numerical Control). Certain that he found his calling, he applied as an ICATT (Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training) apprentice at Wheeling’s Wieland Metals, where he’s currently employed and gaining hands-on experience in the field while simultaneously earning college credit through Harper’s apprenticeship program

Two-and- a-half years later, he’ll soon be graduating from the program with his sights set on getting a 4-year-degree in manufacturing and becoming an engineer. But when he’s not out chasing his dreams, you can find Jonathan on the golf course with his family and friends.

1. Describe your perfect day

My perfect day is a sunny, 75-degree day on the golf course with my family, friends and co-workers.

2. You could be best friends with any fictional character. Whom do you choose and why?

I would have to say C-3PO because he’d correct me on everything. And everyone needs a friend like that; it keeps you honest.

3. What’s the best advice you ever received?

My mother would always say, “Try, try, try again.” Nothing has really ever come easy to me, so giving up on something just because it didn’t work the first time was never really an option.

4. If you could instantly become an expert at something, what would it be and why?

I would probably become an expert at golf. I love the game; it’s very cerebral. I’m always thinking about strategy, anticipating the next hole, and how I can do better than my last game. I played baseball in high school and miss the competition, so this enables me to occupy that headspace again, only my only competitor is myself!

5. What’s your dream vacation?

Bora Bora, in one of those oceanside huts you see in commercials. I love tropical environments and I think swimming and kicking back in a hut sounds like a dream vacation to me!

6. What would your loved ones say is your best quality?

I think they would say my reliability. I’m somebody who is very dependable and is always going to try and do my best by you. If somebody asks for help, I do it. My family has always been there for me and I like to give back and help others, just as much as I was helped. That’s just as fun for me as being on a golf course or watching football.

7. It's your turn to sing karaoke. What song do you choose?

I tend to not take myself too seriously, so I’m going to say the Veggie Tales theme song just because it’s stuck in my head right now! Either that or “Movin’ Right Along” by the Muppets.

8. What is one thing you are deeply grateful for right now?

I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity I have at Wieland. School hasn’t always been easy for me, so to have such a strong support system, and to be in a position where I’m able to succeed, fills me with so much gratitude. I’m also grateful to be in a position at Wieland that enables me to give back and help new apprentices achieve the same opportunities that were afforded to me.

9. What are you hopeful for?

Above all else, I’m hopeful for my future. I now have a good foundation and a strong launchpad to build off of. Not just in my career, but in my life. I’ve made a lot of new friends and I hope to maintain the community I’ve built here at Wieland.

10. What do you love most about the apprenticeship program at Harper College?

I love the support and infrastructure it provides. I don’t really have to fight for what classes to take, or what books I need. It’s all built into the program to help me succeed both in the classroom and in my career.

Last Updated: 2/13/24