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Two female SPC students opt for careers in male-dominated profession
LEVELLAND – When James Brown sang, “This is a man’s world,” he was referring to man’s contributions to society. For years, it was true that man sat on the top rung of the industry ladder, but now women have been able to break down barriers to earn their own place on the ladder of success.
At South Plains College, two female students, Rachel Zikmund and Joann Byrne, have journeyed through the Diesel Service Technology program. Now they are emerging as highly-trained technicians just like their male counterparts.
Zikmund of Springfield, Mo., will graduate Friday (May 10) from SPC with an Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Service Technology. She also will carry the banner for the Division of Technical Education during the 55th Annual Commencement ceremony. Additionally, Zikmund already has accepted a job with Amarillo Truck Center. She is only the third female to graduate in the 30-year-old program.
“To overcome the stereotype, I had to challenge myself to fight and be just as good as they are,” Zikmund said.
On a typical week, Zikmund spent 30 hours in the classroom and lab. The lunch hour was used to run errands, and Zikmund worked part time at Red Lobster Restaurant in Lubbock. Her work ethics have not only earned her the respect of her peers, she also has impressed the instructors in the program. Zikmund received the Diesel Engines and Controls Certificate as well as the Diesel Service Technology Certificate.
Byrne has completed her second semester in the program. The Lubbock native still has a year remaining. She said that working with Zikmund has made the journey more tolerable.
“The guys in the program gave us a hard time and they really treated us like we didn’t belong here,” Zikmund said.
“Yeah, but they were the ones out getting manicures,” Byrne added.
As part of their classroom requirements, the two girls had to rebuild a ‘92 Detroit engine. The girls finished the project three weeks earlier than their peers, and the engine started the first time.
“Our biggest fear was that it wouldn’t start,” Zikmund said.
“We knew we had done everything right, but you’re still afraid that you might fail,” Byrne said.
Byrne added that the girls were dedicated to the task, and made sure that all of the parts needed for the engine had been used and assembled correctly. After the success of rebuilding their first engine, the girls rebuilt a second engine, a Kubota.
Away from campus, Zikmund collects reptiles – snakes mostly. She has in her collection 24 snakes including a python, a Central American boa and a corn snake among others. Byrne enjoys riding horses. She has 10 of them – Elvis, Scooter, Tavi, Tier, Ice, Sara, Ex, Pops, Envy and Leonidas.
Zikmund now has turned her attention to graduation. In just a few short days, she will be leaving the classrooms of South Plains College to enter the workforce. Byrne’s journey still has a year to complete. However, she knows she wants to work in research and development. Both girls aspire to one day own their own shops – in five years, at least that’s the plan.
“If you’re going to run your own shop, you have to know how to do everything,” Byrne said. “From cleaning the toilet, mopping the floors to signing the paycheck, you should be able to do everything the job requires as well as being able to turn a big wrench.”
WOMAN’S WORK – Two female students at South Plains College are studying how to service diesel powered trucks, agricultural equipment, buses and construction equipment in the Diesel Service Technology program. Shown are Rachel Zikmund, left, candidate for Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Technology, and Joann Byrne. Zikmund will participate in the 55th Annual Commencement Ceremony set for 10 a.m. Friday (May 10). Byrne has one year remaining in the program. (SPC Photo/Wes Underwood)