TEMPLE, Texas – March is Women’s History Month, and a group of female automotive tech students at Temple High School are writing their own history.
In this traditionally male-dominated field, five women are advancing to declare a competition – representing the highest number of female students to represent the automotive technology program in state competition since the program began.
Priscilla Bailon, Angela De La Fuente, Yeraldine Garcia, Nyla Medina and Aliza Mojica secured their spot in the state competition by placing highly at the USA Skills regional competition in Waco in February. Affected projects included rebuilding an alternator for diesel trucks and rebuilding a turbocharger.
In total, Temple High School’s automotive technology class sends a total of ten students to the next round. Those who progress are excited to move on to a growing class of female students – especially since one of the students had already qualified for the state, but didn’t have a chance to compete.
“I qualified as a freshman, but the state meet was canceled due to COVID,” said De La Fuente, a junior. “It was great to see the number of women increase, because I was the only one that year and now we’ve had five qualifiers.”
“I think it shows their drive, their confidence and it shows the equality,” said Joshua Koontz, automotive technology/collision repair instructor. “Having so many women involved in the program and excelling at this level is not something you see often and that makes it really exciting.”
The students were drawn to the program for a variety of reasons, but they are part of a trend within Temple’s Career and Technical Education department – which has also seen increasing numbers of women enrolled in fields historically dominated by women. men like automotive technology, manufacturing, and the building arts.
“I got interested because my dad has a tire shop and I grew up in that environment,” said Garcia, a sophomore. “I wanted to know more and be able to have conversations with him about it.”
“It’s a life skill that I thought was useful to have,” said Medina, another sophomore. “I learned so much more about the car and I understand it better and I know it will help me for the rest of my life.”
“There weren’t many girls in the program, and I wanted to show that we can do it too,” said Bailon, a second-year student. “It feels like you’ve accomplished something few girls do and hopefully it’s encouraging for others.”
Sophomore Aliza Mojica has already decided that she would like to go to college to continue studying automotive technology and wants to pursue a career in the field. With the help of the program and partners like Don Ringler Auto Group, Johnson Brothers Ford and SWG Automotive and Performance, she will have a good head start on her career once she completes the program. The ability to compete at the state level is another step on this path.
“I will come out of this program with certifications that would allow me to work for a dealership or a store,” Mojica said. “It was an amazing program and I would recommend it to anyone.”
This is something that all five students do quickly. They all encouraged anyone interested in the program to investigate and find a home.
“Really go for it,” De La Fuente said. “As long as you love it and know you can do a great job, girls can do whatever they want, and this program allows us to do that.”
“Sign up if you think about it,” Garcia said. “It was a bit scary at first because there weren’t so many girls, but even all the guys were so supportive and we’re all working together.”
“I would tell people to have that push and that hope and that faith and go for it,” Bailon said. “Dive into stuff and do it, whether it’s field trips or projects or whatever you want to try.”
And with the growing number of women involved in the program, this historic group is eager to see what the future holds.
“When I started, I didn’t think I would be with so many women,” Mojica said. “But it was great to watch him grow and we all support each other. It was great to have so many other women to connect with.
The state pageant will take place in Corpus Christi on March 18.
Source: Temple Independent School District