MARIETTA, OHIO (October, 2017)—When Kera Fordyce was in high school her plan had always been to become a veterinarian, but as graduation loomed near, she quickly realized that she really didn’t want to spend another eight years in school. After a visit to Washington State Community College (WSCC), she made a drastic shift in gears and enrolled in the Auto/Diesel program.
“Curiosity and maybe some memories of working with my father and grandfather when I was young pulled me in that direction,” Fordyce admitted. Whether it was sentiment or just her inquisitive nature that brought her to Washington State, it was Fordyce’s performance in the garage that earned her the title of WSCC’s October Student of the Month.
Fordyce is among an elite professional group, as a mechanic, she represents a population that is fewer than 2% female. This is a role she readily admits isn’t easy. “The guys will judge you and they will watch you a little closer than male counterparts.” But her fortitude is her strength. “The best thing to do, in my opinion, is give them an insufferable smile and give it right back. Don’t let them make you feel inferior. You aren’t.”
Jeff Starkey, Assistant Professor of WSCC’s Auto/Diesel program recognizes he has something special happening in his garage. Fordyce is one of eight women enrolled to learn to work under a hood, a phenomenon he credits simply to more people talking about women pursuing this profession.
But Fordyce, in particular, has a special spark that has caught the attention of Starkey. “Kera’s ‘can do’ attitude is infectious,” he described. “Clearly a leader who possesses the innate ability to convey complex subjects, in a digestible manner to her fellow teammates. This is why I was honored to present her work (blog) to an international audience at the 2017 North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) conference in Detroit, Michigan. They witnessed her talent and were very impressed with her ability to ‘reflect on her learning.’”
In additional to NACAT taking notice of Fordyce, companies like Rush Truck Centers in Columbus, OH and Fyda Freightliners-Zanesville, have expressed serious interest in discussing her career plans.
Fordyce’s drive will ultimately earn her two degrees. When she graduates she will have associate degrees in Automotive Technology and Diesel Mechanics.
And while she readily admits turning wrenches isn’t for every woman, she’s equally quick to encourage any who thinks it may pique their interest. “What the men think about you doesn’t matter. What the world thinks about you doesn’t matter. If you think this field is for you, go for it. Don’t let others talk you out of it. If you’re willing to get dirty and work and learn, then don’t let anyone stop you. Your limits are your own, what you’re willing to do. Don’t be afraid to be a woman in this field, be afraid of your regrets if you aren’t.”
For more than 45 years, Washington State Community College has fueled the community’s future through education. We work to make a positive impact by providing opportunities for growth. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to enrich your life, we cultivate pathways to guide you toward future growth. Be inspired. Be WSCC. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.