Fayelee Brazis-Pfeiff, a student in the Welding Technology Program at Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) – a public career technical education district – received a $1,000 scholarship from Intelligent Manufacturing Systems International (IMSI) in a ceremony at West-MEC’s central campus on Nov. 23.
Brazis-Pfeiff submitted an essay for the ‘Women in Manufacturing’ Scholarship explaining why she chose to pursue education in West-MEC’s two-year program exploring the basic skills used in metalworking, manufacturing and industrial production, and a committee of judges deemed her work worthy of the award. She has long held an appreciation for manufacturing, welding specifically, even before she enrolled in the Central Campus program in Glendale. She received a welding helmet from her mother’s fiance, Kent, as a present for her thirteenth birthday.
“I’m sure that you can imagine my reaction: ‘What do you expect me to do with this?’. To anyone, giving a welding helmet to a thirteen-year-old girl would seem like an interesting choice to say the least, but Kent was definitely an interesting guy. Kent is a welder himself, and I guess he had seen an opportunity to get me interested in something new and different. And it worked. It would be almost a year after that before my first time picking up a welding gun, but after that I knew the course of my life had been changed for good. For a short while, Kent had mentored me on some of the basics of welding, but the majority of my skill had been developed on my own, although I never could have gotten to where I am today without the guidance and support of those close to me,” Brazis-Pfeiff said.
She said she would like to work on robotics in the future, and hopes her welding skills, strengthened by the further education the scholarship will assist in her pursuit of, can help her achieve that goal.
Over the coming weeks, IMSI will present several winners with the ‘Women in Manufacturing’ Scholarship, aiming to help promote young girls into similar career paths down the road.
“We want to draw women into this workforce, and show them they can have a future in manufacturing,” said Robert Mansfield, an IMSI board member.
In addition to Brazis-Pfeiff’s scholarship, IMSI awarded West-MEC with $500 to purchase manufacturing personal protective equipment designed for women.
“In this industry, we found that PPE – like gloves, jackets for welding and other items – are normally designed for males and they do not fit females as well. Thus the effort to designate funds to women so that equipment can be purchased to meet their needs,” said Speranta Klees, West-MEC Post-Secondary Partnerships Manager.
West-MEC is a career technical education public school district that focuses solely on innovative career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue continuing education. West-MEC CTE programs provide students opportunities to earn college credit and industry credentials. West-MEC serves more than 37,000 students from 48 high schools, across 3,600 square miles in the northern and western cities of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. West-MEC now also offers adult education programs. Visit www.west-mec.edu for more information about West-MEC’s career-driven education opportunities or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.