Name: Rachel Shay
High School: Douglas County High School
College (Current or Future): Chattahoochee Technical College
Major/Intended Major: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technician
Financial Aid Program: Zell Miller Grant
The U.S. Department of Labor lists over 100 occupations that are defined as nontraditional careers for women, or those in which 25 percent or less of people employed in these jobs are female. Professions include everything from police officers and aircraft pilots to cement masons and the profession Rachel Shay has chosen to pursue.
“I want to be an air conditioning maintenance technician in the commercial field,” said Shay, who heard about the program from her cousin who works in admissions at Chattahoochee Technical College (CTC) and recommended that she apply.
According to CTC Special Populations Coordinator Brannon Jones, women make up only 1.4 percent of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning workforce. Shay is planning to take advantage of that fact.
“Not only is an increased salary an incentive for individuals considering nontraditional careers,” Jones told the Cartersville Patch, “but the opportunities for professional growth are endless.”
Shay’s opportunity is founded thanks to state financial aid programs like the Zell Miller Grant and the HOPE Career Grant, formerly known as the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant.
“I never thought that I would be able to go back to school because of the costs. Receiving financial aid has meant everything for my career and my future,” Shay said. “In today’s industry, no one wants to hire without some kind of extra schooling. My parents are getting older and I needed a way to support myself. And knowing that I can start in an industry where you can only move up makes this a great choice for me.”
Shay anticipates her movement within a traditionally male-dominated field will be assisted thanks to a “high demand for females, because, for the most part, we are more detail-orientated.”
She advises all students, regardless of gender, to take advantage of the many opportunities available.
“Don’t put your education off because of the costs,” Shay said. “There is so much assistance available to help you pay for school. Find something you love and go for it.”