Reid State Welding graduate, Kristen Booker, has gained global attention with her career choice to enter a non-traditional career in welding. At 16, she took her first welding class just to try something new. Her hard work and dedication led to a nomination by Escambia County Career Coach, Shae Lambert, to be honored by Go Build Alabama.
Kristen began her welding skills at the Escambia Career Center while a student at T. R. Miller High School. As the first Miller student to be recognized by the Future Skilled Workers of America, she was awarded a $1000 scholarship and featured in Go Build Alabama's statewide television commercial, Facebook and web posts. She attended dual enrollment welding classes at Reid State, in conjunction with the career-technical classes, to complete her welding degree one semester after high school graduation.
"I just love to do what I do," said Booker. "It takes mental and physical ability. It's something you can do with your hands that you can make. I'm good at it and I like to show the men that I can give 110%," said Booker. "It is hard to be a woman in a men's workforce, but that's everyday society. You have a place to uphold."
Articles on Booker's non-traditional career success have included publications locally, statewide, and nationally. Go Build Alabama, the Evergreen Courant, the Brewton Standard, publications in Alabama are joined by articles in New York with global outreach. Ashley Rodriguez article, Rebranding Construction for the Next Generation of Workers, was published in Animal Spirits a publication by the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Advertising Age picked up Ms. Rodriguez's article and is slated to publish the article with photos of Kristen on August 11, 2014.
Welding is a popular construction field for young women, because it requires workers to be patient, meticulous and creative. However, it is still a male-dominated career and Booker also feels empowered to be a part of it.
As 74% of construction firms report in a 2014 survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, it is difficult to find skilled craft workers. New emphasis has been placed on recruiting efforts to locate skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers and welders.
With two job offers on the table, Kristen settled on Performance Contractors because of their job opportunities, pay and benefits. Her goal is to move up in the welding field from welding to supervision. As a Performance Contractor employee, Kristen will be onsite at Thyssenkrupp in Calvert, AL. She and her parents, Chris and Cindy Booker, reside in Lenox.
Steve Prentiss, Performance Contractors, Human Resource Manager, Kristen Booker, Reid Welding graduate, and Lesleigh Smith, Director of Workforce Development, Recruiting and Training at Performance.
Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education | P.O. Box 302130 | Montgomery, AL 36130-2130