WINNSBORO — The mother of 17-year-old DeShondra Young realized her daughter was different when she was 7 years old and taking things apart just to see how they worked so she could put them back together again.
With support from handyman neighbor Henry Harvey, she learned to build chairs and dog houses as well as do fixer upper repairs.
Her inquisitive nature and willingness to try something new carried over into the junior’s coursework at the Fairfield County Career Center where she is in her second year of carpentry classes and her first year taking HVAC courses.
Heating and air conditioning repair are not traditional courses of study for women but that does not bother Young.
“I added HVAC because I wanted to try something different,” she said.
She likes being outside and doing hands-on activities and aspires to either study construction or architecture in college.
“I want to build a house and set up everything in it,” she said. Her long term goal is to have a business where she builds entire houses for people.
Her choices right now are either starting at a technical college, attending North Carolina A&T or attending Clemson.
Young will graduate with partial HVAC certification. She said her greatest challenge so far was learning to wire a circuit without blowing the fuse.
“You have to set up the wires and make sure a unit can work,” she said.
Duct work comes easier for her because of parallels to carpentry such as making precise measurements and cuts. Once she learned about bending metal and how to bend metal a bit past the point it needs to go so it can spring back into place, she said the duct work was not a problem.
Young admits she watches little television, preferring instead to be outside. A standout in the 100m dash for FCHS, she enjoys running almost as much as tinkering.
“The work is not as hard as it seems and it pays well,” she said. “It’s an interesting trade to learn that not everyone can do.”
English is her favorite subject outside of her career center courses and she likes writing, especially poetry and short stories.
Making tools like a girl
Senior Shanikkia Roseboro, 17, enjoys working with her hands whether that means helping her mother with child care or it means making tools from metal in a machine shop.
The precision of the craft appeals to her and she takes pride in her projects matching blueprints and meeting specifications.
Roseboro is learning to make the metal tools that make other tools. At first the field seemed like a lot to handle.
She said it took a while to build up the muscles needed to lift metal and work with big machines, but she has gained upper body strength over time.
The example of the other three girls at the career center in fall of 2013 inspired her to blaze a new trail.
“I wanted to do something I know no girl would do,” Roseboro said.
She said safety was a big thing she has learned over and over in the courses. And acknowledged being around all boys was different because she has a lot of sisters. Roseboro said she adjusted to boys’ sense of humor and talking about sports but mostly, she focuses on class.
“It’s different work but it’s all the same (work ethic),” she said. “And I believe that females can look good, leave the job site and get in a suit to (go out),” she said.
Charting her own course, she said, was easier to do thanks to the support of the other three girls at the career center who are pursuing non-traditional coursework. Roseboro likes the job security within the field and plans to graduate high school and work using her technical skills while she attends a technical college.
“I like that I get to work alone sometimes and do things by myself with my hands but at the same time still be a part of a team,” she said.
When her hands are free to hold a book, she enjoys reading, particularly romance novels and suspense novels and he favorite author is Wahida Clark, an author of what she terms urban books that have themes and content that relate to contemporary life.
Roseboro hopes her journey will inspire other girls at FCHS.
“If you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do. This is me. I will do it and make it happen,” she said.