By Eryn Dion The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Courtney Tomlinson is a finalist in the "MikeRoweWorks Work Ethics Scholarship contest." Tomlinson is taking part in an electrical engineering program which has never had a female graduate. She hopes more women will start to consider going to trade school and breaking into the fields.
Courtney Tomlinson understands work ethic.
The 24-year-old mother of three rises at 5:30 a.m. every morning to drive to Parker and drop her children off at school. Then she drives back to Lynn Haven to be in her 7:45 a.m. class at Haney Technical Center, where she's studying in the electrical program. As if that wasn't enough, four days a week, she works as a manager at a fast-food restaurant.
"My day is just go, go, go," Tomlinson said.
While her work ethic has been recognized by her instructors and peers at Haney, Tomlinson's effort recently earned a national nod after she was named a finalist in the MikeRoweWorks Work Ethics Scholarship contest, which awarded over $600,000 in scholarships to 182 students nationwide.
"It's a blessing because I have three kids," said Tomlinson. "It's going to help somewhere. It's going to provide something."
Tomlinson's father was an electrician and some of her earliest memories are traveling with him to job sites, "putting wire nuts on my fingers" and learning about the job. At 24-years-old, she realized it was time to start thinking about an education and a career in a trade because, she said, "working in fast food is not where it's at."
"I felt like a trade was probably my best route to do the things I desire to do for my family," she said.
It's no secret there aren't a lot of women in the trades, Tomlinson said, nor does she have many female classmates.
The particular program she's in has never had a female graduate, she said, though she hopes more women will start to consider going to trade school and breaking into the fields.
"It's kind of weird," Tomlinson said. "It feels like you have a million eyes watching you. The people here want to see me succeed. They help me when I need help, they listen when I'm stressed out. It gives me the extra push and drive I need."
The application process for the scholarship was extensive, Tomlinson recalled, involving a pledge, an essay, full application and even a video. In the end, though, it was worth it, both for the scholarship and the visibility for women in the trades.
"Even though we're women, we can do what they do," she said.