Non-traditional fields attract PRCC student

HATTIESBURG – Elizabeth Asbury ties her long brown hair in a pony tail and covers it with a cap before starting work.Asbury, 19, isnt a food service or health care employee but a welding student at Pearl River Community College Forrest County Center.As long as you dont mind getting burned, you can make some good money, she said about the opportunities in a field few women try.PRCC actively recruits students into fields in which they will be the minority gender – males into office systems technology and allied health programs and women into welding, electronics and heating and air conditioning.PRCC received a $4,900 grant to promote gender equity and used much of the money to produce brochures and posters to recruit non_traditional gender students for specific career programs, said Dr. Janet Thornton, assistant to the dean at the Forrest County Center.We visit counselors at the high schools, WIN Job Centers, Head Start Centers, GED centers and libraries in the six_county area, Thornton said.She also speaks to students during high school assemblies and new PRCC students at registration, showing them a Power Point presentation on the opportunities in non_traditional gender careers.Our Workforce Investment Act coordinator and PRCC counselors also provide information about the opportunities in our programs to new students, she said.When Asbury enrolled in the PRCC welding program, it wasnt her first venture as a nontraditional gender student. While a student at Oak Grove High School, she enrolled in the automotive services technology program at the Lamar County Center for Technical Education.Then I started metal trades and I really liked, she said.Asbury did well at PRCC, said welding instructor James Patterson.Elizabeth was a step up on everybody else, he said. She was advanced and moved up fast.Although Asbury has some leads on possible welding jobs, she staying in school at PRCC and enrolling in criminal justice – yet another program where women are in the minority.Im going to do some more school so Ill always have a back_up plan, she said. I think criminal justice would be cool.Many of the programs at the Forrest County Center, including welding, are eligible for Workforce Investment Act financial assistance which helps students with tuition, books and other fees. For information on WIA assistance, contact Frankie Lee at 601-554-5519 or“> information on PRCC admission requirements, go to

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