Marielle Jodoin, 19, of Mesa was looking for a career where she could stand out. She found it in the Welding Technologies program at the East Valley Institute of Technology, where she is training to become one of those rare workers prized by employers: A female welder in the male-dominated building trades industry.
“EVIT has shown me that I can succeed in this field,” Jodoin said. “I have certifications and job opportunities.”
Jodoin is considered a non-traditional student in career and technical education. The state of Arizona defines “non-traditional” as occupational training or fields of work for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in the workforce.
EVIT defines a “non-trad” as a student who has accepted the challenge, with courage and commitment, to enroll in a program that is not considered traditional for his or her gender. Jodoin is the very embodiment of that definition.
“Some people don’t trust women to get the job done. Don’t let the minority hold you back. Take on the challenge … Put your heart and soul into it,” said Jodoin, who wants to eventually become an aerospace TIG welder and possibly go to college to become an aerospace engineer.
Non-trad students break stereotypes and close the gender gap. Their decision to follow a non-traditional career path can change the lives of other students who may be afraid to pursue the career of their dreams. The benefit to non-trads: Employers will often give them first consideration for interviews and job opportunities.
In EVIT’s building trades programs at the Dr. A. Keith Crandell (Main) Campus, it’s not unusual to see female students in hard hats and welding helmets working hard alongside their male classmates. Jodoin recently went through the two-week process to earn her arc welding certification. EVIT is a nationally-accredited testing site for the American Welding Society.
“It was one of the most emotional and challenging things I’ve done,” Jodoin said of the certification testing. “I kept going because it’s an amazing start to my career.”
In addition to AWS certification, EVIT is also accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research, which sets the standard for training in the construction industry. This means the 324 students enrolled in EVIT’s building trades programs -- Construction, Welding, Plumbing, and Heating, Ventilation & Air-Conditioning (HVAC) -- are being trained to the highest standard in the construction industry and can earn professional NCCER credentials that make them employable anywhere. If you’re a woman with those credentials, you’re even more employable.
Charlie Ranes, 20, a Tempe high school graduate enrolled in the HVAC program, encourages female students to pursue building trades careers.
“If you’re thinking about it, just go for it. Don’t worry about what others think or say about you,” he said. “Just because (women) are what you might think, doesn’t mean they can’t be who they want to be.”
EVIT offers 40 tuition-free CTE programs for East Valley high school students. Enrollment is under way for 2016-17. Info: www.evit.com.
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