Recently we had a chance to sit down for an interview with Andrew Sprauer, SEI’s new Social Coordinator, who will be a great resource for our students when they are here this hands-on lab season. Andrew is super excited to show our students all of the great things to do while here in Paonia, Colorado. We asked Andrew to tell us a little more about himself and his solar journey.
“I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and joined the Marine Corps out of high school. I served from 2005 to 2009. During that time I deployed to Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2008.
Following my service, I earned a bachelors degree in Business Administration from Elmhurst College. I moved to Chicago and started working. It was going well for a little while, but I was finding myself feeling unsatisfied with what I was doing. There was something that was lacking in my life; a purpose that was bigger than myself. I wanted to be involved in something that was going to help other people, specifically those who were less fortunate than me.
An interest in clean energy had been in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to give it some more attention. That is when I started reading about SEI and the training that they offered to people who were looking to get involved in the solar industry. I thought about how a career in solar would align with my desire to help people, as well as to see some different parts of the country and the world. After a couple of weeks of research, it seemed like a no brainer. I placed a call to SEI, and Monique Turek responded the same day. Within a week, I had registered for seven weeks of courses using my remaining GI Bill benefits.
In September of 2016 I showed up in Paonia. Having zero electrical or solar experience I was a bit nervous about this undertaking. However, within a week or two those fears had subsided and I realized that I was learning and picking up the material very well. On top of that, Paonia was turning out to be a place where I could finally relax. What started out as a big risk (quit my job, left home), turned out to be an incredible experience of healing and preparation for a career in a new industry. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
While I was in South America over the winter, I emailed Kathy Swartz asking her for some professional advice. She offered her advice, but also suggested that I might be a great fit for the Summer Assistant position with SEI. “The pay will be low, but the fun will be high.” I jumped on the opportunity. And here I am in Paonia again, this time working for the team that provided me such an exceptional experience.
I’m incredibly happy to be here helping to provide new students the same amazing experience that I had. I felt like it was a great way to show my appreciation for what SEI did for me.”
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