XENIA — Regardless of their chosen area of study, the girls at the Greene County Career Center have come to get the job done.
Four young ladies, all juniors and seniors, recently shared how they’re ready to take on the world of their chosen field.
Hannah Graves, a junior automotive repair student, already had a lot of community experience under her belt. However, as a freshman at her home school of Fairborn, she didn’t know at first what she wanted to do until she stepped into the auto repair lab at GCCC.
“I needed to do something hands-on,” she said. “I feel like I can be myself in the lab.”
Like all automotive repair students, Graves does the body work and applies all the paint. Her job is to make a wrecked vehicle look as good as new. In her class, there are only three girls.
“We (joke) around with the boys,” she said. “We all get along.”
Being a girl in a field traditionally dominated by men poses its own challenges, but Graves says her experience at GCCC has prepared her mentally, and she’s focused on being the best of the best.
“It’s a lot of tough love,” she said. “I’m making sure I’m the top notch at what I do, so somebody will walk in and say ‘Oh wow. She’s better than me.’ ”
Junior Frankie Travis works in welding and metal fabrication, something she was drawn to almost immediately.
“I first got the opportunity to come in for Greene Days,” she said. “For some reason, I thought to walk into the welding lab. I fell in love with it immediately.”
Like the automotive repair lab, the number of girls in welding can be counted on one hand. But in the welding lab, Travis fits right in.
“At my home school, I was the quiet kid,” she said. “I like getting to socialize with all the guys. All the guys were super open to having a young lady in the classroom.”
Travis, whose home school is Greeneview, keeps busy throughout the year. In April, she won Ohio Miss Teen Agriculture 2020, and competed at the national level with girls throughout the country. Unfortunately, with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, a few of her royal duties had to be modified slightly.
“I didn’t get to travel as much as planned this year,” she said. “I still got to do all the advocating events I would have, via Zoom.”
After graduation, Travis plans to go to college and specialize in pipeline welding. Her goal is to travel throughout the country — and pipeline welders spend a lot of time on the road. Her number one destination is going to Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
Junior Katie Heider, of Fairborn High, turned a love of hunting and the outdoors into a desire to become a game warden upon graduation. Heider studies natural resource technology, her favorite part of which is becoming more knowledgeable about wildlife.
“When I’m out hunting, I can be like ‘Oh I know what kind of tree this is,’ things like that.”
Girls outnumber the boys in natural resources technology, with only three boys in the junior class. On lab days, the students create their own little gardens in the classroom. Currently, that means a Christmas display.
Growing up hunting, Heider says she knew exactly what she was getting into at the career center.
“It’s preparing me for what it’s going to look like in the real world, treating me like a young adult and being responsible for what I learn in school,” she said.
Senior Elizabeth Fig is on the home stretch of her high school career, currently on placement with Albrecht Wood Interiors doing finish carpentry. Fig, a construction technology student out of Xenia High School, wants to continue working on residential construction after graduation.
“Right now, it’s a lot of watching and learning,” she said.
Fig grew up working for her stepdad’s small business. Though she wasn’t technically old enough to work, she worked with her stepdad for four years renovating houses in the summer.
The coolest project she’s worked on was an electrical wiring project her class transferred from the old career center building to the new one.
“We went over to the old career center, tore it down and rebuilt it in the new building. It was a field trip,” she said.
Including herself, there are only three girls in the construction technology senior class, and not many women hold positions in the professional sphere. Fig credits her teacher, Tyler Downing, for helping prepare her for the real world.
“Mr. Downing often put me in a leadership role, which definitely prepared me,” she said. “Everyone says the biggest thing is to stand your ground. Everyone at Albrecht has been honestly great.”
Superintendent Dave Deskins reaffirmed the career center’s commitment to helping students of all walks of life find success in the industries.
“Our advisory committee members, especially those in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, tell us they they actively seek out employees that increase their diversity, and specifically appreciate a different attention to detail and reliability that female, minority, or other protected classes can often provide,” Deskins said. “I also believe career center students are discovering that some of the highest-paying jobs are aligned with those specific career pathways. As our number of non-traditional students grows, we will continue to promote to our students that they can attain any career goal they pursue.”
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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