York Senior Lauren Thomas is
taking classes through the Southeast Nebraska Career Academy Partnership that
she never dreamed of. One class in particular is welding. Not only is she
taking it and earning dual credit through Southeast Community College, but she
really enjoys it.
“I think it’s my favorite
class,” she said. “No matter who you are, I strongly suggest taking welding.”
Thomas originally took the class
because it’s a requirement to become an automotive technician, which is what
she’d like to do in college. However, she’s getting much more out of it than
“I enjoy the work of being
able to make something,” she explained. “When I work on a weld, I zone in and
focus on only the weld, even though sometimes it frustrates me. I’m an artistic
person, and when I do welds, I get into a rhythm.”
Fellow classmate Cara
Carranza found herself in a similar situation. She needed the class for her Auto
Collision Repair program credits. She likes the hands-on part of welding. She’s
also not afraid of a challenge.
“A college rep told me there
needs to be more women in this field because we’re better at multitasking, so a
piece of advice is to never be afraid to do things like this just because it’s
male dominant,” Carranza said.
York Instructor Rachelle
Staehr said it’s encouraging to see more females signing up for the class, and
she enjoys watching them progress throughout the semester. She said sometimes
the boys in the class will get frustrated if the girl is a better welder, but
eventually there’s an earned mutual respect.
“It is a great skill to learn
for anyone, and females tend to be more artistic and detail-oriented, which are
two beneficial skills to have in welding,” Staehr said.
Staehr said there are a
variety of career paths in welding, including metal fabrication, sheet metal
work, boilermakers, automotive careers, and working in a local welding shop,
among others. Many of the courses in the SENCAP program give students the
skills they need for post-secondary education and a future career.
“I feel very fortunate to be
able to teach students hands-on skills that might empower them to pursue a
career in the trades,” Staehr said. “Even if the students don’t pursue a career
in the trades, as a CTE instructor, I have the opportunity to provide students
with lifelong skills.”
Meanwhile, students like
Carranza and Thomas continue to inspire others by demonstrating that there are
no limits to what they can do.
“I think it pushes me just
that much to do the best I can since people might underestimate me, because I'm
a girl,” Thomas said. “It kind of makes me want people to underestimate me, so
I can show them that I actually do have talent.”
SENCAP has other female
welding teachers including AnnaLisa Estrela at Ashland Greenwood High School,
and Holly Podliska at Centennial Public School in Utica.
For more on the SENCAP program, click on this link: https://www.southeast.edu/sencap/