Young woman taking swing at male-dominated industry

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Women now make up nine percent of the construction industry, up from one percent in 2015, according to the National Association of Women in Construction.

A Midstate school is building on the growing number. As part of National Career and Technology, Education month, the Milton Hershey School is touting a recent increase of woman enrolling in carpentry class.

The nuts and bolts of the lesson plan are drywall and painting. Construction and carpentry teacher Joe Fick said the trade industry is up and coming and there is more opportunity right now.

For some of the young women in Fick’s class, it’s about more than building their skill set. They’re breaking down barriers.

Carpentry student Jasmine McGinnis recalls classmates saying “You’re a girl, you shouldn’t be doing something like that, it’s a man’s work.”

She tries to ignore the naysayers. After all, designing a home with a strong foundation is her passion. McGinnis, known as Jazzy, has overcome many obstacles in her young life.

“My family didn’t always have the most money or the best things. The house we lived in, our water wasn’t very good so it was difficult to shower very often. If you did you would turn orange like a pumpkin,” she said. “I was getting bullied a lot”.

Life’s curveballs left her hinging on her grandmother’s support.

“It wasn’t very stable,” she said.

Now stepping into security, the Milton Hershey School is helping to firm a brighter future.

“I found a few house parent couples that have been wonderful. I like to consider them family. There are other students I call my brothers and sisters because they’ve been there for me through everything,” McGinnis said.

“She works extremely hard and puts heart and soul into a thing,” Fick said. “She wants it to be perfect.”

McGinnis is using her skills and paying it forward.

“Now I’m building homes for people where they can have their own families,” she said.

The musical melody of her saws and hammers are proving her inner strength and perseverance.

“I don’t think anybody thought I would get this far,” she said. “I’m further than I ever thought I could be.”

McGinnis recently got back her mid-term exam: the highest grade in the class. She’ll graduate next year with five industry-recognized certifications.

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