EL PASO, Texas (CBS4) -- Elisa Arredondo, Abigail Vega and Ashley Lopez became the first all-female welding team to take part in the SkillsUSA District 1 contest held at Western Technical College on Saturday.
Their welding team comes from Americas High School under the instruction of Veronica Garcia.
“At first, I felt nervous, but getting here, it’s just like any other practice,” said Vega.
They weren’t the only girls competing from Americas High School’s welding course, either.
Senior Michelle Carrasco competed in the art sculpture category of the competition as an individual.
“There’s always that thought of ‘What if I don’t do good?’ or ‘What if I didn’t do enough?’ but I just have to trust in myself and what I do with it,” said Carrasco.
The girls were confident in their abilities coming into the male-dominated field.
“Being a male-dominated place, it’s just the pressure. The feeling of them, they kinda, you know, they giggle here and there looking at you,” said Vega. “Just smile through. Stay with your team. We laugh it through. We don’t really take it serious. We continue what we have to do.”
“Sometimes there’s that intimidation where you just feel like you’re smaller, like you’re physically smaller or not strong enough,” said Carrasco. “As it is, I’ve grown up around two brothers, and with these guys, I’ve been with them for a few years so they’ve become like family. I feel comfortable around them.”
At the competition, the girls had four hours to fabricate a challenging project using a blueprint and specific measurements.
“It’s really challenging, but I believe (our instructor) prepared us well,” said Vega.
The girls hope they can inspire others to follow their example.
“Everyone is the same. As long as you put in as much effort as you can, you can go far,” said Vega.
“For anyone that wants to do the trade, whether you’re male or female, or just in general if you want to do anything, just set your mind to it and go for it,” said Carrasco.
The girls don’t plan to stop here, though. All of them hope to make it to the state competition. Beyond that, Vega and Carrasco both said they hope to turn welding into a career.
“I want to take it pretty far. I want to get a good career, start my own business and continue with it,” said Vega.
“As a career, I do want to carry on with this. I want to continue in my welding, maybe a business,” said Carrasco.
The welding courses are among the hands-on learning experiences provided in the Socorro Independent School District program. The classes promote leadership, skills development and a seamless transition to post-secondary education and work.
Click here for more about the career and technical education program.