Two students are getting a jumpstart on their careers, while breaking barriers through the North Kansas City Schools Auto Technology Program.
The program gives students a chance to get hands-on experience, working on cars and learning more about the auto industry.
Cheynne Lineberry and Ashley Gillespie have been interested in the auto career path since they were little.
“I've been working on cars my entire life, ever since I was a little kid with my dad, every single thing we could think of," Lineberry said.
“I basically took after my grandpa and after my dad,” Gillespie said. “I was always wanting to help out my dad whenever he worked on his diesel truck.”
According to Catalyst.org, even though women account for almost half of the labor force in the U.S., they only represent about a quarter of the automotive workforce.
It’s a statistic Gillespie and Lineberry hope to change.
“Knowing that it'll give me a good career field when I get older, and the fact that I'm going into a male dominant career field, that just makes me feel like I can do it even more,” Lineberry said. “If I could impact a girl to get into a male dominated career field, they could be outstanding in it.”
The two year program consists of juniors and seniors who go to one of the four high schools in the district.
“They have to apply to come to the program, they have to come down, they'll do an interview, they'll see exactly what goes on,” automotive instructor for NKCS Auto Technology Program, Jack Stow said. “If they fulfill all the obligations that are a part of it, they can get six credit hours through Metropolitan Community College - Longview and their automotive program.”
Stow says students get the chance to not only learn about the field, but build character, which he says is one of the most important traits to have in this program.
“It's all about character,” he said. “Because people are bringing their vehicles to us and if you come here and bring it in, and I work on our brakes, if they work on your brakes, you expect that job to be done right, you don't cut corners, that's what I want them to know.”
As Gillespie and Lineberry learn about the ins and outs of the industry, they hope their step forward in the auto world can encourage other women to do the same.
“Whatever people want to do for the future, they should go for it,” Gillespie said. “Don't hesitate, do what you feel like you want to do. Follow your heart.”
“Don't let the male dominant career field drag you to a part where you don't think you can do it,” Lineberry said. “You can outstandingly can do just about anything a guy can do.”
The NKCS Automotive technology program is currently in the middle of enrollment, if any sophomores within the district are interested in learning more, they can check out the program’s website.
Rae Daniel can be reached at Rae.Daniel@KSHB.com.