VC, VISD address low participation of nontraditional students in Career and Technical Education
Portrait of Susie Wheeler
Susie Wheeler

Victoria College faculty and staff as well as Victoria ISD administrators and counselors recently participated in a workshop to explore the root causes and potential strategies for addressing low participation of nontraditional students in Career and Technical Education programs.

The workshop was conducted by Susie Wheeler, the Texas Facilitator for the STEM Equity Pipeline. Wheeler works at Amarillo College, serving as project manager for a Perkins State Leadership grant titled Gender Equity in CTE. As such, she helps community colleges improve nontraditional student participation and completion in CTE programs. A male nurse or a female firefighter, for example, would be considered nontraditional.

CTE is a series of courses – combined with hands-on training – that prepare students for their chosen careers, such as welding, law enforcement, and nursing.

The Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Grant, a federal grant administered through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, funds a variety of initiatives at Victoria College designed to help CTE students succeed.

“One of the goals of the Perkins Grant is to increase participation and completion of nontraditional students in CTE programs,” said Danette Johnson, VC’s grant development director. “The term ‘nontraditional’ refers to occupations for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25% of the individuals employed.”

After learning about 18 common root causes for low participation among nontraditional students, workshop participants from VC and VISD compiled a list of those they believe are the most relevant in the Golden Crescent region.

“Our next step will involve getting feedback from nontraditional graduates or students currently enrolled in CTE programs,” said Johnson. “Based on their feedback, we’ll begin trying different strategies to address the root causes impacting our region.”

Wheeler also discussed jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that include areas of health science, information technology, manufacturing, and architecture and construction. She pointed out that people with lower levels of education in STEM make more than people with higher levels of education in non-STEM areas, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

This year, VC is working to increase participation of nontraditional students in the three programs: criminal justice, physical therapist assistant, and nursing.

The STEM Equity Pipeline is a program improvement process designed by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, a national organization committed to the advancement of equity and diversity in classrooms and workplaces. For more information, visit

For more information on CTE programs, contact Victoria College at (361) 573-3291.

By the Numbers

* In 2012:

  •     3.4% of firefighters were women
  •     9.4% of registered nurses were men
  •     1.2% of automotive service technicians were women
  •     5.9% of childcare workers were men
  •     1.6% of carpenters were women
  •     0.7% of dental hygienists were men

* From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Published: Friday, 22 November 2013

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