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Expectations are proudly tested at Pickens.

Mandy Benson, Lyndsey Bolvin, Alyssa Holdredge, Rachal Nguyen, Breana Brennan, Jaeilene Rodriguez, & Emily Bustillos |Contributors

At Pickens Technical College, students are challenged every day to deepen their capacity to engage in their craftspersonship. For many, this involves testing society’s boundaries and expectations by selecting trades that don’t commonly represent their identities. This A Story production takes us into the inspiring world of tradition breaking which in time with sweat and courage turns into tradition making.

Mandy Benson | Welding

So Pickens Welding program came out of a realization when I turned 30 that all I know is bar tending and a desire to be able to do something else. I dropped out of a prestigious school in Upstate New York when I was 14, did not even finish 10th grade. I did not do well with a structured academic system, I learn best by creating, exploring and getting my hands in it.

I have a full education but not any academic degrees.  I am Native American, from the Onida Nation, they pay for community college classes, but not technical training, so I have had to pay for this myself, I take a bus every day from Edgewater and bar tend 40 plus hours a week.

What I love about Welding and Jeff’s class in particular, is that we get to experience hands on training each day.  I chose Welding because eventually I want to be off the grid and welding is a good practical skill and artistic expression.  I started Welding with a little fear of the combustible nature of welding, but really enjoyed creating and learning a skill that I can take with me on my life’s journey.

Alyssa Holdredge | Welding

It all started at 7 years old with my dad and uncles building gates and fences in Aurora. I like fire & being able to create things that no one else can do. I like when people tell me no, so I can prove them wrong. Because of my gender, my classmates constantly ask if I need help. I respond by telling them I have to figure this out for myself. I like doing something that most females will not be able to do.

Lyndsey Bolvin | Power Sports

I grew up in a biker family, both parents rode Harleys, when I heard about Pickens I thought about Automotive because I’m interested in engines, but decided on Power Sports because I want my own bike, want to fix it and maintain it and eventually have my own shop. In the beginning, I was very scared to start, thought that everyone would be an expert, who would trust me with an engine? but the instructor was so open and I learned that we all learn so many things together.  Everyday.  So even if you are scared, be brave, give it a try.  The more I learn about motorcycles and engines, the more confident I feel about working on motorcycles and cars.

My immediate plans are to work in the field and save up for a car and then my own bike, a Harley, of course. Oh yeah, the advantages are that I think it will be easy for me as a female to find a job, the only disadvantage is that I’m kinda small and can’t lift some really heavy bikes, but someone is always around to help me.

Rachal Nguyen | Auto Tech

Growing up with my mom, I grew interest in cars through Nationwide Production and 1320 street crews. These organizations build stunning vehicles, raise money for people in need, and promote community. I wanted to learn car basics so I could be self-dependent in roadside scenarios. I love imports; the way they’re lowered, mechanically sound, personalized, and go faster than they should :).

Breana Brennan | Collision Repair

I got into this through curiosity. I appreciate dealing with cars and wanting to how something became the way it is. I want to know what’s under the paint. I have a fascination with paint and car colors. Coming into this I was concerned about the rudeness of the collision world. In the shop, I struggle with being trusted and respected sometimes. Guys can be immature. They give you the most do-able and simple job they can find. Therefore, it’s difficult to be treated as equals. In the industry, paint techs tend to be in 40’s 50’s 60’s and have rusty ideologies of woman. Women are more detailed oriented and find flaws and features with a deeper instinct. Plus, men are more likely to be colorblind. 1/12 men are colorblind verses 1/200 woman.

Jaeilene Rodriguez | Auto Tech

I got into this to prove that a girl can do it. We are more than office and phone work. I want to motivate girls. In the shop, there is solid love, reaction, support, and help. An added bonus is I can get into spaces that guys cant ;).

Emily Bustillos | Auto Tech

My dad thinks girls should be in kitchen and inside. I needed to prove against that force and show that girls can do it. I am good at math and problem solving. I love the confidence of the ability to fix and repair. The shop is interesting because men are willing to help but can be too willing.

Adriana Bartello | Welding

My Dad is a mechanic and he knows how to weld. I would always see him weld but I never knew what it was until one day he asked me if I wanted to help him build a dining room table for my Mom and I said “yes”. From the first bead that I laid, I felt the spark of passion that I got from welding. I went into Pickens on my last year of high school to get that as my career

My favorite part of welding is doing art and pushing the boundaries of what the pure welds can do; for example, I like building it on top of each other to create 3D sculptures or just weld drawings using pure welds only. I also love that you won’t get any good at it if you don’t learn from your mistakes and fix them to continue to get the good weld that you want. It has taught me a lot about life and patience. You need a lot of patience to get through life. Coming from a Hispanic culture where a woman isn’t the type to go in to a man’s world and do everything a man can has been hard because even if you’re the best welder ever they look down on you just because you’re a girl. I think the advantage of being a woman in the field is that we put a lot more into our work than others. We go into it with a different vision and more patience. Even my teacher himself said that woman are better welders the men because we have a more delicate way of dealing with the heat.

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