Salt Lake Community College president Dr. Deneece Huftalin recently revealed welding was responsible for her decision to enter the world of academia.
“As an undergrad in welding, I was fascinated with building strong frameworks and unifying unique structures in metal sculpting. Late one evening, while listening to my favorite heavy metal LP and working on my collection, ‘We Are One’, I saw a glowing sphere shining through a skylight and was drawn in,” says Huftalin.
It was actually the morning sun rising when she realized she had worked through the night. “I was stunned and felt the experience really spoke to me about devotion, unification and access to educational pursuits,” says Huftalin. She defines that pivotal moment as having inspired her to add education to her major.
What do welding and higher education have in common?
“I instantly realized I loved uniting diverse perspectives and that it was my life quest to solder together faculty and student dreams to advance and flourish under an umbrella, if you will, of solid curricula and structure,” says the president. “When you bring perspectives together with respect and honor for each for contribution to the whole, it’s collaboration at its finest. We are all cogs in a greater cause.”
Impressed with Michelangelo’s sculpture of actualizing ‘David’ by sloughing off what wasn’t David, she created art and educational masterpieces utilizing this same theory.
“Students become their ultimate masterpieces, as we merely bring them to the educational buffet and then get the heck out of their way,” she says.
Huftalin continued her vocational and educational work in the field and soon earned a joint doctorate in Metal Arts and Education.
Still moonlighting as a metalworks artist, she says she is constantly amazed by the similarities between metal, heavy metal music and education. In braiding these three passions together, last year she launched a heavy metal band of SLCC audio professors (including Jon Clark, Craig Ferrin, Lynn Brown, Thomas Baggeley and Steve Sue) called Metal Minds, where they perform on instruments she welds live on stage.
“Although some might call me a bit unconventional by academia standards, I feel I have really found my niche and I’m luvin it,” says Huftalin.
Metal Minds will be touring in Germany this August (during break) on the “One Plus One Equals One Tour” – inspired by the Bruin OneCard. The band has also been commissioned by Governor Gary Herbert to perform at the capitol to bring about greater unity during the 2016 legislative session.
To follow SLCC’s own Metal Minds, visit www.pedaltothemetal.spoof.