High School Senior’s Essay about Plumbing Makes it into New York Times

High School Senior’s Essay about Plumbing Makes it into New York Times

Each spring, the New York Times selects five moving college admissions essays to publish. The topics range from work to money to social class and are written by teens with diverse backgrounds.

This year, one of the five essayists reflected on her time as a plumber’s daughter, and the lessons she learned in that role. While many teens babysat or hung out by the pool lifeguarding, Kelley Schlise of Milwaukee spent her summers as a plumbing assistant. She went out on calls with her dad and worked for his one-man plumbing business.

As a young girl, Kelley navigated pipes, cords, walls, bathrooms and kitchens and chaos to help her dad diagnose and then fix the problem. The job was often messy and cumbersome, which conflicted with Kelley’s need for control and perfect organization. Plumbing challenged her controlling tendencies and perfectionism and taught her the value of elbow grease and perseverance.

Excerpt from her essay:

“As much as my dad and I create chaos, we create order, and if I look carefully I can find it in each newly soldered array of copper pipes or in the way my dad’s toolboxes all fit together in the back of his van. Moreover, when customers express gratitude for our work, I understand that, in a small way, we bring order to their lives. The physical and mental discomforts of plumbing are worth it.”

To read Kelley’s essay in its entirety, click here.


We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field
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