The Renegade Rip

Former NFL player is now instructor at BC

Alisia Sanchez

Mostly known for being a former NFL player and a U.S. Marine, Jeremy Staat has returned to Bakersfield College as an assitant professor of wleding.

Alisia Sanchez, Photographer

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Former NFL player, U.S. Marine, and Iraq War veteran Jeremy Staat has a number of accomplishments. But, according to Staat, had he not first attended Bakersfield College in 1994, that number would have never budged beyond zero.

“Anybody can achieve their goals and aspirations as long as they put forth the effort, and BC is a huge starting point,” Staat said. “If it wasn’t for BC, everything else that I’ve done in my life would have been nil. It wouldn’t have happened.”

After graduating with an associate’s degree in criminal justice at BC in 1996, Staat transferred to Arizona State University, where he later earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. He played in the NFL for six years between 1998 and 2003 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006, subsequently becoming an Iraq War veteran. In 2011, Staat established his own nonprofit, The Jeremy Staat Foundation, which allowed veterans to tell their stories at local schools, and at no cost.

Today, however, that foundation is on hold, and Staat is an assistant professor of welding at BC.

“BC was the catalyst for everything that followed. BC is still the catalyst for everything that’s continued to go,” Statt said. “For instance, if I didn’t do the things that I was supposed to do when I was [at BC], I wouldn’t be here right now. I don’t even know where I’d be.”

A huge fan of trade skills, Staat said he started welding on his own 12 years ago out of necessity. Initially, Staat wanted to start a welding program through his foundation, where he’d teach welding to the youth. He decided that if he wanted to teach welding, he needed to learn more about it, and thus returned to BC two years ago as a welding student.

“I started taking classes here [at BC], and along the way, I just kind of noticed that the instructors were always here,” Staat said, reportedly asking his instructors whether they needed help and if they were hiring. He was informed the position was available but they had not been able to get anyone else to teach. Staat was advised to take a look at the classifieds, and though he started out as an adjunct, within a semester, Staat was hired on full time.

“I always tell my students ‘Luck favors the prepared,’ and so by the steps that I was taking, allowed me other opportunities. I didn’t have to come to school. I could have just went out there and said ‘Hey, I’m a welder,’ but no, I said, ‘I gotta learn more if I’m going to be teaching it to the kids. I’ve got to be able to teach them more than I know, so I need to continue to learn.’ All the pieces fell into place … The opportunities opened up, and here I am.”

In class, Staat said he builds a rapport with his students and doesn’t inform them of who he is, but rather of what he’s accomplished. He also tries to inspire and motivate his students by telling them stories about the welding industry, informing them that individuals such as Jesse James, Paul Teutul, Sr. and Jr. of Orange County Choppers, and Ken Small of Ken Small Industries have all made it successfully as welders.

“At the end of the day, they’ve pushed themselves. They’ve set themselves up. They give themselves opportunities, and they’ve made sacrifices and set goals,” Staat said. “That’s kind of what I try to do with these students here. I know it’s not going to happen in my first year, but I’m always going to constantly push it and re-invent my syllabus and re-invent myself, and continue to tweak my curriculum until I’ve got it where I want it.”

Staat also tries to instill discipline in his students by asking them to arrive 15 minutes early to class in order to prepare them for future job interviews. He has also set up a template email in which students can communicate and inform him whether they will be late or absent.

“I’m just trying to give them all tools to be successful. I think sometimes, too, I take it a little personal. I get really upset if a kid is not passing,” Staat said. “I guess it’s like the Marine Corps thing, I don’t want to leave anybody behind.”

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Former NFL player is now instructor at BC