Cherry Weiland, assistant plant manager at General Motors’ Fort Wayne Assembly plant, originally published this letter to high school graduates in the Journal-Gazete, May 25, 2023


High school graduation season is a special time in the Fort Wayne community. It marks the culmination of watching kids around us – in our schools, neighborhoods and homes – grow up and embrace young adulthood.

On behalf of the entire General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly team, we congratulate all Fort Wayne-area 2023 high school graduates on their achievement. Each of the graduates we are celebrating this month is a future leader with the potential to drive our local economy and community forward.

To the graduates, be proud of this moment for what you’ve achieved, but also be excited for what’s next. You are entering a new chapter and have untapped potential to leave a lasting impact on those around you and the community you live in.

As you explore the new opportunities available to you, consider pursuing manufacturing and skilled trades job opportunities right here in the Fort Wayne community.

Recently, four-year universities have seen a decline in enrollment. Some graduates note that rising costs, a desire to earn a living right away and a lack of classes focused on their areas of interest have led them to explore other options.

Manufacturing and skilled trades offer compelling opportunities for young people to earn a living and make an impact in their communities. The manufacturing and skilled trades industry in the Fort Wayne region offer new graduates good-paying jobs that can lead to fulfilling careers.

Manufacturing and skilled trades allow you to work with your hands, solve new problems and change how people experience their day-to-day lives.

At General Motors, we’ve embodied this into an aspiration to develop innovations to connect people to what matters most to them. This shows up in the production of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 full-size pickup trucks right here at Fort Wayne Assembly.

Not only are manufacturing jobs fulfilling, but they are ones you can build a life around. In addition to a competitive starting wage for new hires, the benefits of manufacturing careers at General Motors are bountiful.

From world-class health care and benefits packages, profit-sharing programs, and development and training opportunities, to tuition assistance programs and flexible work assignments, these opportunities provide life-long career paths. They are jobs you can hold for decades to provide for your family and help you become role models and leaders in the community.

Our world is changing faster than ever. This year’s graduating class will come up with ideas, products and technologies that aren’t even in our realm of possibility today. What won’t change is the role manufacturing and skilled trades play in building these ideas and bringing them to people all over the world.

“I built that” is a gratifying statement that will never lose its luster, and General Motors and other Fort Wayne regional employers can help job seekers find that satisfaction.

Cherry Weiland, a Corunna native, is assistant plant manager at General Motors’ Fort Wayne Assembly plant.