Women in Technical Careers (WITC) is Dunwoody’s new scholarship program designed to help women students succeed in technical degree programs at Dunwoody. Recipients of the scholarship receive $20,000 in scholarship funding and childcare assistance if needed.
However, WITC is much more than just financial assistance. It also serves as a series of support services and networks–all designed to remove barriers that often prevent women from seeking non-traditional professions.
“Throughout their time at Dunwoody, WITC students participate in a cohort program, a mentorship program and monthly professional development workshops. They also have direct, one-on-one support from an advisor,” said Women’s Enrollment Coordinator Maggie Whitman. “While the scholarship funding helps, it’s these support services that really make a difference.”
Perhaps one of the most successful support services offered is the mentorship program. Modeled after research findings on the best way to support women students in a technical career, the program pairs each student with a local, successful woman in the same profession.
Mentors include women such as Claire Ferrara, Interim Executive Director of MEDICO; Cathy Heying, Founder of The Lift Garage; Karin McCabe, Workforce and Vendor Outreach Coordinator from McGough Construction; and many more.
“The mentorship program is important because it connects our students with women who are experienced at navigating workplaces where few women work,” Whitman said. “Mentors can share job searching advice, industry information, and personal experiences that will prepare our students for their lives after graduation. It’s important for our students to hear this type of feedback and advice from women who have had similar life experiences. A simple, ‘I’ve been there, and I made it through…’ can go a long way.”
The mentorship program officially kicked off last month at a social event on campus. Students and their mentors were able to meet in person for the first time and get to know one another over appetizers and beverages.
“The students were very excited to meet so many professional women in their chosen careers,” Whitman said. “I also heard from the mentors that they appreciated the opportunity to network with other professional women. I think this program will be beneficial for everyone involved.”
Mentors and students will meet in person several more times throughout the next two years. They will also communicate regularly online.
The WITC scholarship was awarded to 22 women in 2015. The students are currently enrolled in programs like Automotive, Computer Technology, Robotics & Manufacturing and Construction Sciences & Building Technology.
The WITC students are expected to graduate in Spring of 2017.