Eye on KELOLAND: Picking your own path

Eye on KELOLAND

WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — Women belong in all industries.

According to Lake Area Technical College, since the fall of 2018, anywhere from 17 to nearly 20 percent of students in traditionally male programs have been women.

Jasmine Green discovered her passion inside a piece of machinery while working at an ethanol plant after high school.

“When I cut my finger, I was stuck in a payloader 12 hours a day and just running the loader, loading the trucks, playing with the–it was grain–but dirt or whatever it just kind of found my love for this,” LATC student Jasmine Green said.

Now operating this bulldozer is part of her education. She’s in the Heavy Equipment Operator program at Lake Area Technical College.

Green says she’s the only woman in the program.

“We’re basically a big family,” Green said.

But she admits she initially felt some apprehension about moving into a male-dominated field.

“There’s always that little thought in my mind saying, ‘You’re going to fail. You can’t do this. You’re going to get in, but they won’t accept you because you’re a girl. You don’t run equipment.’ That thought was always kind of there in the back of my head, but the only person that’s going to stop me is me,” Green said.

Green isn’t the only woman pushing forward on the path less traveled.

Lake Area Technical College says right now women make up more than 17 percent of students in traditionally male programs.

“As a society, as a whole I think we’re becoming more open and aware that basically you can do any career that you choose,” Green said.

Erin Stover is in the Robotics and Electronics program at Lake Area Tech.

“I really don’t feel that I’m a girl and they’re a guy. There’s not really a divide here and it’s really amazing,” Stover said.

She’d like to see more women taking up a career in robotics and electronics.

“It’d be really cool. I think it kind of gets stereotypical, ‘It’s a guy’s thing; only guys can do that,’ but at least here in this school if you come in knowing nothing anything you’ll leave knowing what you need to know,” Stover said.

Green’s advice to others? Just go for it.

“I say go for it. If that’s what you love to do, take the chance, take the leap of faith and do it. The only thing that’s stopping you is you, and, yeah, you might fall down, but just get back up again and try again,” Green said.

Green is following her own advice by bulldozing a path to her dream.

Through a federal grant, the college’s equity coordinator visits several high schools and talks with kids about traditional and non-traditional careers.

The college also hosts an equity day for those students.

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