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Career Challenge Day at Randolph Tech Center had girls trying out ‘non-traditional’ fields

by Jillian Scannell



This article and a video were originally published by NBC 5. For over twenty years Vermont Works for Women has hosted Career Challenge Day at Randolph Technical Career Center. At Career Challenge Day female and gender-expansive students in grades 6-8 from area-sending schools have a chance to explore all that their tech center has to offer. Students get hands-on exposure to tech programs: they meet instructors, hear from current students, and try using tools and equipment in each classroom.

NBC 5 | March 9, 2022

By: John Hawks

RANDOLPH, Vt. — The Randolph Technical Career Center hosted middle school-aged girls from around the region on Wednesday for Career Challenge Day. They got to try out trades where traditionally women are underrepresented. This program has been running for nearly 20 years.

It comes at a time when Gov. Phil Scott is wanting to increase funds for trade skills training using the surplus in the education budget.

“I think most would agree we need to do more to support CTE because they’ve been left behind for quite some time,” Scott said.

CTE refers to career and technical education.

“Any help that we can get to promote career and technical education from Gov. Scott is going to be really helpful. Many of our centers are tired,” Felicia Allard, RTCC director, said.

More funding for technical career centers around the state will help keep CTE programs running.

Career Challenge Day at Randolph’s tech center was proof Vermont’s youth are ready to explore this type of education. Middle school girls visited different trade programs around the school. Seeing how they could play a role in an industry considered “nontraditional”. Meaning, women comprise less than 25% of the students enrolled.

“The tech center is an awesome place to just expose these students to either careers or education or even hobbies that they might not think are open to them because of their gender,” Caelan Keenan, of Vermont Works for Women, the organization that runs the event, said.

Students participated in machine work and welding.

“We learned you can get your hands dirty, it doesn’t matter what gender you are,” Emma Morrill, an eighth-grader at Randolph Elementary School, said.

In culinary arts, they were making sushi.

“We made sushi with the regular seaweed and with cucumbers, carrots rice, and we, like, wet it down with our fingers and it was actually really fun,” Hailley Drew, a sixth-grader at Randolph Elementary School, said.

“It gives girls a chance to try things that are brand new that they’ve never done before and I think that’s a good experience,” Ashley Lamothe, a sixth-grader at Randolph Elementary School, said.

A lot of them had never used a plasma cutter or welded their initials into steel.

“I feel like most of the things we’re trying are like run by males or mostly males in them, so I like that it gives the girls a chance to see if they want to try them out,” Emma Kapitanski, also a sixth-grader at Randolph Elementary School, said.

Instructors guided them in how to wire electrical outlets. They were shown skills they might not get anywhere else, instilling confidence and broadening opportunities.

“Oh, I could be here I could do this, this could be part of my path going forward,” Keenan said. “For some students, it’s just expanded possibilities to know that it’s an option.”

The middle schoolers won’t be able to enroll in CTE opportunities for a few years, but educators are hoping when they do they’ll break molds and go into male-dominated fields.

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