Instructor Hannah Wolf Leads the Way for a New Generation of Welders and Metal Fabricators

Hannah Wolf with welding and metal fabrication students photo

There was nothing linear about Hannah Wolf’s path to Madison College. But looking back, there were plenty of signs that today – as a metal fabrication instructor - she’s right where she belongs.

She was that friend who helped you with homework. She worked as a tutor. Wolf even led horseback adventures on the beaches of Australia.

Through it all, she developed her sage-like wisdom and a desire to share knowledge. Her gifts leave others better, wiser and more equipped to live fuller lives.

“It definitely makes sense now,” she says, “But like we all know, sometimes what’s right in front of you isn’t always obvious at first.”

She’ll also tell you it’s her heartbreak and challenges as an undergraduate student that have made her such an advocate for her students today.

Hannah Wolf, Madison College Welding and Metal Fabrication Instructor photo
“The best opportunities are made and seized when we are ready for them. There are always people ready to cheer you on throughout your journey. Just be bold and have the confidence that you will learn what you need along the way.”
Hannah Wolf
Madison College Welding and Metal Fabrication Instructor

Changing Course

Wolf shares, “I went to school first to become an equine veterinarian and then an addiction counselor. In both pursuits, I was sort of blindsided with requirements I didn’t know about, and it was devastating. Even though I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I couldn’t do the work I wanted.”

Feeling disheartened but motivated to figure out a new career plan, Hannah pivoted. She decided to look through a course catalog for Madison College.

“Both of my parents are Madison College grads and have had stable and fulfilling careers. I remember looking for a program that showed me a direct path to a future job. I wanted to know that if I put the time in, the value on the other end would be there.”

Less than one year later, in the spring of 2015, Hannah walked across the stage and received her technical diploma in welding. “It felt like a huge achievement, and this time it felt different because unlike before, I knew there was a job waiting for me.”

Soon after, even with an offer to work as a full-time ironworker, Hannah felt pulled to return to Madison College. She started as a lab coordinator in the related metals program (now metal fabrication). Then, to help fill a student cohort, she also enrolled in the metal fabrication certificate program.

“I immediately loved the metal fabrication courses. It was so cool, it came easy to me, and I was great at it,” she says. “I kept asking for more.”

Turns out, more was just around the corner.

The courses she loved and was knocking out of the park would need a new part-time instructor the following semester. With a bachelor’s degree that she says finally came in handy, and the fierce support and encouragement of Denise Reimer, Madison College’s Vice Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Hannah began teaching at the college in fall 2017.

Now fully immersed in the process of connecting students to their craft, Wolf sees herself as a foundation builder.

“I absolutely love helping students build the foundation for what they’ll need to be successful out in the real world,” she says. “I never want one of my students in the position I was in. So I make it a point to give my students options, to tell them about their job pathways, and to show them how they can live a great life and make a good living.”

She’s also mindful that her students come in with different goals.

“The value of this education is different for every student, so it’s important to meet them exactly where they’re at with the goals they have. Some students are laser-focused on getting the skills they need to graduate and start making a living. Other students are like I was, where the plan A didn’t work out, and now they’re trying something new.”

Changing the Industry

Wolf uses her voice as a leader in the welding industry. She admits this doesn’t always come easy, but she feels it's crucial for the industry’s growth and future.

Since 2020, she has been part of The American Welding Society’s (AWS) Future Leaders Program, which focuses on developing the next generation of AWS leaders and industry professionals.

With that term ending in 2023, Hannah felt there was still work to do in creating pathways for her and other future leaders to stay involved.

“I decided to run for a ‘director at large’ position within the AWS, which brings forward a viewpoint or opinion that isn’t represented by any of the 22 district directors from throughout the country.”

Running for this position was anything but comfortable. Wolf is the first to acknowledge it pushed her far outside her comfort zone.

welding and metal fabrication class demonstration photo
“Hannah loves learning and has a vast array of knowledge. It’s great to have her as an instructor because any question you have? She either knows the answer or knows how to find the answer.” Amanda, metal fabrication student.

“It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done,” she says. “I was running against a former AWS president who had been in the industry longer than I had been alive. Here I was, this 31-year-old woman, in front of a nominating board compelling them to vote for me, someone who looked much different than anything they were used to.”

The committee rallied behind Hannah’s message, and in 2024, she will begin her director at large term for the AWS. “By them taking a chance on someone who doesn’t fit the mold of the familiar, I’ll be part of bringing new ideas forward.”

She’ll also tell you it matters that she’s a woman, too.

“Women need to see themselves in this trade, and part of that is seeing women in leadership positions at these high levels. I think if you want new ideas, you need new people who can bring them. If I’m part of building the next generation of welders, I think it matters not just for Madison College but for the trades as well.”