May 27, 2024

TEMPLE, Texas – March is Women’s History Month, and a group of female automotive technology students at Temple High School is making a little history of its own.

In this traditionally male-dominated field, five women are advancing to state a competition – representing the largest number of female students to represent the auto tech program in state competition since the program started.

Priscilla Bailon, Angela De La Fuente, Yeraldine Garcia, Nyla Medina and Aliza Mojica earned their spots in the state competition by placing highly in the USA Skills Regional competition in Waco in February. The projects involved included a rebuild of an alternator for diesel trucks and rebuilding a turbocharger.

L-R: Yeraldine Garcia, Angela De La Fuente, Aliza Mojica, Priscilla Bailon, Nyla Medina and instructor Joshua Koontz. (Courtesy: Temple ISD)

In total, the Temple High School automotive technology class is sending a total of ten students on to the next round. Those advancing are excited to move on in a growing class of female students – especially since one of the students had qualified for state before, but did not get a chance to compete.

“I qualified as a freshman, but the state competition was cancelled due to COVID,” said De La Fuente, a junior. “It has been great to see the number of females grow, because I was the only one that year and now, we have had five qualify.”

“I think it shows their drive, their confidence and it shows equality,” said automotive technology/collision repair instructor Joshua Koontz. “Having that many females involved in the program and excelling to this level is not something that is often seen and that makes it really exciting.”

The students were attracted to the program for different reasons, but they are part of a trend in Temple’s Career and Technical Education Department – which has also seen increasing numbers of women enrolled in historically male-dominated fields like auto tech, manufacturing and construction arts.

“I got interested because my dad has a tire shop and I grew up around that environment,” said Garcia, a sophomore. “I wanted to learn more about it and be able to have conversations with him about it.”

“This is a life skill that I thought would be handy to have,” said Medina, another sophomore. “I have learned so much more about the car and I understand more about it and I know that will help me for the rest of mt life.”

“There weren’t many girls in the program, and I wanted to show that we can do it, too,” said Bailon, a sophomore. “It feels like we’ve accomplished something that not many girls do and hopefully that is encouraging to others.”

Sophomore Aliza Mojica has already decided she would like to go to college to continue studying automotive technology and wants to go on to 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 great head start on her career once she finishes the program. The chance to compete at the state level is another step on that path.

“I will come out of this program with certifications that would let me go on to work for a dealership or shop,” Mojica said. “This has been an amazing program and I would recommend it to anybody.”

That is one thing all five of the students are quick to do. They all encouraged anyone interested in the program to investigate it and find a home.

“Definitely go for it,” De La Fuente said. “As long as you like it and know you can do great in it, girls can do anything they put their minds to, and this program allows us to do that.”

“Sign up if you are thinking about it,” said Garcia. “It was a little scary at first because there aren’t as many girls, but even all of the guys have been so supportive, and we all work together.”

“I would tell people to have that boost, that hope and that faith and go with it,” Bailon said. “Get yourself into stuff and just do it, whether its field trips or projects or whatever you want to try.”

And with the number of women involved in the program growing, this history-making group is looking forward to seeing what else the future holds.

“When I first started, I didn’t think I would be around this many females,” Mojica said. “But it has been great to see it grow and we all support each other. It has been great to have so many other females to communicate with.”

The state competition will be held in Corpus Christi on March 18.

Source: Temple Independent School District