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SPC welding student’s dream interrupted, finally fulfilled
LEVELLAND – When Katie M. Forget of O’Donnell decided to pursue a career as a welder at South Plains College, she knew it would be an adventure. For one thing, she would be surrounded in an industry dominated by males. The other, an unexpected illness nearly derailed her future.
Forget fell in love with the trade while a senior at O’Donnell High School. She knew wielding was her calling, and she received an abundance of support when she discussed the career path with her mother, Brenda Dickey. Dickey, an electrician, had experienced a similar challenge in her own profession.
“She said go for it!” Forget said.
When Forget arrived on the SPC campus, she found herself to be the lone female in a class of 60. She said she knew other females had studied in the program before her, so she felt assured that she would be able to complete the program, too.
“The guys in the program were very nice and very helpful,” Forget said. “If I couldn’t lift a heavy tank, they would help me. It was always like that for me.”
In December 2010, Forget’s quest to earn her welding certificate was disrupted when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had to leave the program for a semester to undergo chemotherapy treatments. She returned to SPC in August 2011. Since that time, Forget went on to earn a Basic Certification and Advanced Certification in Welding. After graduating in May 2013, Forget landed her first job ever as a welder at Texas Tech University’s Physical Plant.
“I love it a lot,” Forget said. “It’s a really good work area, a good team and I love what I’m doing.”
In her short time at Texas Tech, Forget has been promoted to lead welder. She said she enjoys her job because every day she receives different projects and tasks. In addition to being a welder, Forget also works with steam.
“Steam is a very serious issue because any time you have a steam leak, you have to shut down a building,” Forget said. “That means we have to get in there and get it fixed quickly especially when the steam leak is in a dormitory or the Administration building.”
Forget stands a shade under 5 feet tall. She said being her size has come in handy while working at Texas Tech.
“Texas Tech has 13 miles of underground tunnels, and sometimes I work on fixing meters,” Forget said.
The job often requires that Forget has to climb into tight spaces within the tunnels to complete repairs, something her average-size male counterparts may not be able to do. She also is able to squeeze and bend between pipes to access things that need to be fabricated or welded. Her size has been an asset to the department.
“I’m sort of a tomboy, so heights don’t bother me nor do small spaces,” Forget said. “I like to climb poles and stuff. I’m happy to do whatever it takes.”
Away from work, Forget spends her time playing video games and hanging out with her finance. He currently is a sophomore in the Welding Program at SPC, and is slated to graduate in May.
In the future, Forget said she would someday like to become an aerospace welder working on high-grade aluminum. The fact that she is a woman has not stopped Forget from achieving her dreams. She said for any woman who might consider entering a male-dominated profession should pursue it.
“Women are just as capable as men,” she said.