Isaac Shanks: Daughter is motivation for Marine’s transition to welding career ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
Skip to Content

Isaac Shanks: Daughter is motivation for Marine’s transition to welding career

Welding student
Isaac Shanks hopes to return to Laurel Ridge for more welding classes.

Isaac Shanks’ young daughter has been a huge motivating factor in his most recent career decisions.

He left the Marine Corps after being awarded primary custody of the now 6-year-old Piper.

“I was spending too much time away,” he explained. “I got out so I could be Daddy.”

And while he was interested in welding – he had grown up watching his grandfather weld sheet metal – he didn’t want to join his friends at their welding school in Texas.

Shanks holding daughter

Marine Corps vet Isaac Shanks with his daughter, Piper.

“I said, ‘I can’t go to school in Texas, I have my daughter here,’” said Shanks.

Luckily, his mother, Terry Shanks, is a nursing professor at Laurel Ridge and knew about the welding program offered by Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions. He completed the fast-track career training program in about three or four months in 2023.

“I took them all, back-to-back, every Saturday,” said Shanks, who lives in Star Tannery. “It was good. I had a good instructor, Alvin Dore. I said, ‘Give me all the classes you have.”

The 2015 Warren County High School graduate spent four years on active duty with the Marines, and was discharged as a sergeant.

“I had good times in the Marines,” he said. “It was a good decision for me. I had a tendency in high school of getting in a lot of trouble. The Marine Corps helped out with that a lot, gave me structure.”

Shanks was a wrecker operator for a line platoon in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.

“Any cargo, any troops, anybody that got moved in country or stateside, if anything happened to the vehicle, my job was to get there, assess it, and pick the vehicle up, or permanently disable the vehicle,” he said. “It’s not a good feeling when you’re the only person to get out of an armored truck. My having my daughter was probably a good thing.”

Shanks’ welding courses helped him get hired by N.J. Sullivan, where he builds electric boxes for all of the major power companies.

“I took a piece of something I did at the college and sent it to my job,” said Shanks, who is soon due for his second promotion. “I like that I can always have a way to go up the ladder. I don’t have a cap. They’re taking care of me pretty good.”

One of his coworkers took welding classes at Laurel Ridge with him. Shanks said he is trying to arrange for a customized class to be held at the college so he can work with stainless steel and aluminum.

“Four people from my job want to come here at the same time to take the classes,” he said.

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s welding program at

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.