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Stereotypes sent down drain by VC female plumbing students

Dulce Hernandez Dulce Hernandez receives instruction from Bobby Stevens during a recent Plumbing Level 1 class at Victoria College’s Liberty Street Industrial Training Center.

Dulce Hernandez was a little nervous when she arrived at Victoria College’s Liberty Street Industrial Training Center for the first class of this fall’s Plumbing Level 1 course.

“I thought I was going to be the only woman taking this class,” Hernandez said. “I was very happy to see there were other women taking the class.”

According to 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 1.5 percent of the country’s 553,000 plumbers were women. This fall’s Plumbing Level 1 class has three female students, including 31-year-old Rebecca Valderrama, who recently bought her first home and wanted to learn how to do her own plumbing repairs.

“I have done some faucets around the house, but I hadn’t actually done anything with fittings or things like that, so I felt a little overwhelmed when I first walked in,” Valderrama said. “It’s great to learn these skills, because I won’t have a landlord to do my plumbing anymore.”

Hernandez, 24, is taking the course as part of her certification requirements to become an inspector for the City of Yoakum.

“My boss decided this would be a good class for me, and I have really enjoyed it so far,” Hernandez said. “What I knew from Day 1 of the class and now is a big difference. All the hands-on training is really helpful.”

VC instructor Bobby Stevens has 39 years of plumbing experience. Stevens, who is certified as a Responsible Master Plumber and owns and operates Stevens Plumbing & Repair in Victoria, said students take the course for numerous reasons.

“They may want to learn how they can save some money at the house, or they may want to begin a career in this profession,” Stevens said. “There is quite a demand for plumbers in this area.”

Victoria College also offers welding, electrical, HVAC, millwright, pipefitting, power line worker and scaffolding courses. Various levels of the courses will be offered in the spring.

For more information on Victoria College’s industrial trades courses, call (361) 582-2528.