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Olivia Mooney First SMHS Female Welder at MOVTI

The St. Marys Oracle of St Marys, West Virginia

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Breaking Down Barriers

Mid-Ohio Valley Technical Institution's welding instructor Mike Sims had a hard time narrowing down the 45 applicants for this year's limited number of spots in the welding program.

"We usually accept 20 or 21 into the program, but this year we had so many good kids we kept 26," Sims explained. "This is one of the biggest and one of the best classes I've ever had here at MOVTI."

One thing that was not hard for the veteran teacher to decide on was whether or not to keep the three female applicants for this year's welding classes.

"This was the first time we had three girls apply-and they all got a here because they interviewed very well and they all scored near the top of almost every category they were tested on," Sims stated.

"Kayia Bates from Valley High school told us after her interview, pick me because I'm good not because I'm a girl," he said.

There have been a few female welding students in the past from Valley High and from Ritchie High, but never one from St. Marys, until now!

Olivia Mooney, a junior, becomes the first female from Pleasants County to be in the welding program at MOVTI.

"I had a friend, A. J. Dawson, who attended MOVTI and he loved it. I love doing it too, and you can make good money welding," she explained. "I wasn't that good when I first started, but I'm doing better now. Mr. Sims has helped me a lot."

Mooney said she wants to let the other girls know this just isn't for the guys.

"Girls can do anything the guys can do," she said. "You just have to go for it. Don't let anybody stop you. No one can tell you what you can do except yourself, so go for whatever it is you want to do."

Ariel Gump is a junior at RCHS and said she has always liked welding.

"I'm a daddy's girl and my dad and uncle always did it. I wanted to show them I could do it too," she explained. "I want a career in welding, but I also want to go to college."

Gump said the boys have been very supportive of the three girls in the program. "They have all been very sweet to all three of us."

Kayla Bates concurred saying "The boys seem to love that we are here. Well, except for one mean guy who said the nursing program was at the other end of the building. He may have been kidding, but I don't really care because I can do whatever he can."

Sims said that the girls are holding their own in class. "They want to be treated just like the male students," he said.

"We treat everyone with respect here, that's how we run our shop," he stated.

According to Sims, more and more women are getting into the welding profession.

"They are out there working alongside the men and they are seeing that there is a lot of money to be made as a welder," he concluded.

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Original Publication Date: September 24, 2014

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