The official photo of Jade Van Den Bosch wouldn't lead you to think that she is a welder.

Her “official” photo us her as Miss Manitoba, 2009.

The 19-year-old woman from St. Rose du Lac, Manitoba, began welding — when she was 15 years old — in the 10th grade at the Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School.

She intended to major in art, but randomly chose a class in welding.

“I enjoyed the class so much that I dropped out of all my art classes the following semester and filled up my schedule with welding classes,” Van Den Bosch said.

“I began getting the highest marks in almost every welding class I enrolled in,” she added.

During her senior year, Van Den Bosch enrolled in the apprenticeship program and got a job with Ritz Machine Works, a block away from her school. She went to school in the morning, then drove to work and worked until 8:30 p.m. every day, specializing in gas tungsten arc welding (TIG) on stainless steel and aluminum parts for buses and farm equipment.

During her senior year, she was chosen to attend the Skills Manitoba Competition that took place at Red River in Winnipeg. She placed fifth out of 10 competitors, with an 84 percent on her project. Van Den Bosch graduated with both academic and vocational honors.

She had enough hours to challenge her level one exam, a written test, and was enrolled in level two at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon.

“I enrolled in level two without even knowing my results of level one, which were a pass. After the completion of my level two, I was employed with Manitoba Hydro in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I currently work,” she said. At Manitoba Hydro, she gained Canadian Welding Bureau certification for flat gas metal arc welding (MIG) and flat and horizontal arc welding.

On November 4, Van Den Bosch gained her vertical and overhead certifications under the Canadian Welding Bureau as well. Then she headed back to college in Brandon in January for her third and final level of the program.

Now, she is practicing welding 4-in. pipe, and hopes to get her Journeyman certification after passing that. Van Den Bosch loves a challenge, and said that one of the things she loves best about welding is the fact that you can't be perfect at it.

“There's always something new and exciting to learn,” she said.

In January, she headed back to Brandon to school, but her commitment to welding has her thinking about eventually teaching welding. She believes that would be an additional new challenge.

“I want to get all of my certifications first, then teach welding,” she said, adding that she hopes to encourage young people to learn welding skills as a good way to make a living and help alleviate the shortage of welders in Canada.

Oh, if you're wondering about how she became Miss Manitoba, that was something of an accident, and it happened, in part, because of her love of a challenge and her desire to teach.

She came on the Miss Manitoba Internet site while searching online for the something else.

“I read about all the requirements and I was like, wow this is totally something for me. I never agreed with the beauty pageant thing, because I know there's so much more to women than their physical appearance, and I was quite disappointed with how girls act regarding winning a “beauty” pageant. In my opinion is nothing to be that proud of, we should be proud of what makes us ourselves, not what we look like” Van Den Bosch said.

“So, I sent in my application because I knew I had so much to offer to this organization,” she added.