Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032
At the East Valley Institute of Technology, it’s normal to see girls providing security for events or rappelling down the fire tower and guys cutting and styling hair or taking a patient’s blood pressure. Known as “non-trads,” these students are training for careers where most of their gender rarely ventures.
“EVIT is a very open environment. It’s OK to be a girl in a law enforcement class, and there are guys who are in cosmetology,” said Claire Wright, 17, a law enforcement student from Mesa’s Mountain View High School. “It builds up your confidence.”
As part of its commitment to provide a workforce that meets the market-driven needs of business and industry, EVIT promotes the enrollment of non-traditional students training for careers in which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of those employed in the workforce.
Male students are considered non-trads in early childhood education, cosmetology, massage therapy, fashion/interior design, and all health programs. Female students are non-trads in automotive, collision repair, diesel, culinary arts, 3D animation, fire science, heating/air-conditioning, law enforcement, multimedia, precision machining, radio, video, welding and engineering programs.
The public safety programs of law enforcement and fire science always generate non-trad interest, according to counselor Pauline Acosta.
“Law enforcement and fire are very fraternal, but girls are very drawn to these professions. A lot of people don’t realize that these careers are often first responders. It’s predominantly a social services role even though it comes with the hard tactical. It’s the counseling and working with victims. The (female) non-trads do well in this,” Acosta said. “The girls also like the camaraderie and teamwork they experience in working with the guys.”
Bianca Cervantes, 18, from Ahwatukee Foothills’ Desert Vista High School, has grown up around boys and considers herself a tomboy. So it was natural for her to sign up for EVIT’s law enforcement program. She plans to join the National Guard or the Army and would eventually like to work for the FBI.
Cervantes likes “the action and the challenge” of law enforcement. As a female, “not only do you have to meet expectations; you have to exceed expectations,” she said.
Megan Toala, 17, from Queen Creek High School, became attracted to law enforcement and detective work by watching Scooby Doo as a young child. Plus, her father is a security guard and other relatives also work in law enforcement.
“Coming to EVIT changed my point of view. I used to want to work in police and work my way up to homicide work,” she said. Now she wants to go into law and become a prosecutor. To that end, Toala plans to major in criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University.
Toala said her teachers at Queen Creek are very supportive of her enrollment at EVIT and her plans for the future. They even try to incorporate what she’s learning at EVIT into debates, discussions and class lessons. “They think EVIT’s cool,” she said.
EVIT’s also practical. EVIT students have a 95 percent high school graduation rate and two out of three go on to college or other post-secondary training, often using their EVIT skills to get a job to help pay for college. And, nearly every EVIT program leads to a professional credential. A dozen EVIT programs, including law enforcement and fire science, offer dual enrollment college credit.
EVIT provides 40 advanced career and technical education programs tuition-free to high school students who live in Mesa, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, Queen Creek and J.O. Combs districts. Tuition-based programs for adults are also offered with financial aid available to those who qualify. EVIT is accredited by AdvancED/NCA.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-16 year. For more information, visit www.evit.com.