We were so excited to see OTI alumnae, Ash Jimenez, featured in the spring 2017 edition of Portland Community College Communities! In an article titled Made of Metal: Forging the path for a new generation of women welders, Ash talks about her path to a career in the trades industry and where she sees herself headed in the future.
Ash graduated our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class in 2015 and was able to attend thanks to a generous scholarship provided by Metro. After graduation, Ash got a job with REACH Community Development, as a maintenance technician making $17/hour. While Ash enjoyed her job and the financial stability it offered, she knew she wanted to continue to hone her construction skills in order to advance her career and was particularly interested in learning more about welding.
The author of the article, Celeste Hamilton Dennis, writes
“When she (Ash) found out about a new scholarship opportunity to continue her studies at PCC, she knew she had to go for it. “I’ve never welded before. I didn’t know if I’d even like it, if I’d be good at it, or if I could ever do it”, she said. “Luckily I’m very stubborn so that helped.” Jimenez is the first recipient of a new PCC Foundation scholarship created by prominent community leader and educational champion Evelyn Crowell. The scholarship supports students who are underrepresented in the trades, including women and students of color. Jimenez couldn’t be prouder to carry on Evelyn’s legacy as a trailblazer for women. “I can’t disappoint all these people who are so proud of me,” she said.”
This scholarship enabled Ash to study welding at the PCC/Vigor Maritime Welding Center, where she attended night classes in order to learn TIG welding. When asked why she chose welding she said, “I love that welding is definitely not a woman’s world,” she said. “I like knowing I’m continuing to break through.”
Dennis also writes, “Much of Oregon’s aging welding workforce is expected to retire, leaving a gap for a new generation to step up and take their place” and graduates like Ash “are able to exit the program prepared for a living wage career as a welder whose work will literally create the steel bones of ships, barges, buildings, and bridges”.
“Jimenez’s ultimate dream after completing the program is to weld stainless steel fermentation tanks for brewers and winemakers”, what an awesome dream! In the meantime though, we were proud to hear that Ash’s hard work has paid off and she has accepted full time work with Steelab as a Welder and Fabricator.
Ash’s success has been earned by her hard work and determination, but it is also a great example of what can be achieved when women are provided the information, training and support needed to enter nontraditional careers.
You can find the full article online in the spring 2017 edition of Portland Community College Communities!