Mothers and Daugters Burn Down Barriers in Welding

 Mothers and Daughters Burn Down Barriers

                Mothers and daughters of the South Puget Sound Community College get a chance to take a free welding class, “Burning Down the Barriers Family Style” offered through this school.

Girls as young as thirteen and longtime SPSCC staff members break down barriers in the male dominated field of welding as they are exposed to skills many women never have the chance to.

After Interim Welding Technology Instructor, Sarah Patterson held a welding class for SPSCC faculty and staff last winter, she could not ignore the demands for a mother daughter class soon after.

This session of “Burning Down the Barriers” will have welders learning three cutting processes, using a variety of equipment, and each mother daughter pair getting to weld a metal picture frame with a photo of them in it.

Everyone signing up for this class had to bring either their mother or daughter, with one of them being a SPSCC faculty or staff member. This spring welding class had 18 female welders signed up.

One of them being SPSCC librarian Cathy Chapman who said she emailed Patterson right away with no hesitation to sign up for this class.

Her daughter Zoe is a 14 year old freshman from Black Hills High School, who said she did not want to pass up this opportunity to learn something new.

Another high school student, Rachel Cumberland joined her mother Beth Cumberland, a nursing professor at SPSCC. Rachel said she has always been interested in welding, but her school, Capital High School has not been able to offer her classes for it.

Beth had originally signed up for the winter welding class, but when she heard Patterson was considering having a class for mothers and daughters, Beth decided to wait.

“Have no idea what we’re going to build,” said Beth, but “excited for the unknown,” said her daughter Rachel.

Patterson said the welding class in the winter filled up within 24 hours of posting it, and right away several women were asking if they could bring their daughters along.

“No one can beat her enthusiasm for the subject matter she teaches,” said Deborah Dyer Teed, Dean of Social Sciences and Business. Teed took Patterson’s class in the winter and said, “Sarah was able to convince me to put aside my fears and go for it.”

Teed also said she is “thankful that we have Sarah at SPSCC to empower women to try things they are not accustomed to trying.”

Patterson was able to make this class free for those who signed up by applying for an $800 grant from the Exceptional Faculty Award Program.  She was also given a grant for last winter’s welding class.

Other than just learning the skills of welding Patterson said this class has really brought the women of the SPSCC community together.

Many of these women have working here for years and have never met said Patterson.   After this class the female welders from the past class have been asking Patterson to organize a reunion for them to get together again.

Patterson said she has enjoyed “seeing students have that light bulb moment,” as their confidence grows when learning a new skill.

Patterson has three student volunteers helping her with this spring welding session. She hopes these volunteers will break out of their shells a little she said, by teaching the women skills they are now confident in.

Student volunteer, Nick Prianos said he is looking forward to teaching the skills that he’s learned through Patterson’s classes on campus. Prianos has been welding for about one year now.

At first he was interested in welding for the art aspect of it, but now is proud to have learned the skill of it.

Patterson said the great thing about these last couple welding classes she’s held is seeing how amazing the women on this campus are.

It was great seeing many SPSCC librarians sign up for “Burning Down Barriers” in the winter and learning how cathartic welding can be especially for a woman said Patterson.


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