Mother-daughter welding burns down barriers

This session of “Burning Down the Barriers” had welders learning three cutting processes, using a variety of equipment, and each mother-daughter pair welding a metal picture frame with a photo of them in it.
Everyone signing up for this class had to bring either their mother or daughter, with one of them being a faculty or staff member. This spring welding class had 18 female welders signed up, two more than the winter class.

SPSCC Librarian Cathy Chapman said she emailed Patterson right away with no hesitation to sign up for this class.

Her daughter Zoe is a 14-year-old freshman from Black Hills High School, who said she did not want to pass up this opportunity to learn something new.

Another high school student, Rachel Cumberland joined her mother Beth Cumberland, a nursing professor on campus. Rachel said she was always interested in welding, but her school, Capital High School does not offer classes for it.

Beth had originally signed up for the winter welding class, but when she heard Patterson was considering having a class for mothers and daughters, Beth decided to wait.

“No one can beat her enthusiasm for the subject matter she teaches,” said Deborah Dyer Teed, dean of social sciences and business. She took Patterson’s class in the winter and said, “Sarah was able to convince me to put aside my fears and go for it.”

Teed also said she is “thankful that we have Sarah at SPSCC to empower women to try things they are not accustomed to trying.”

Patterson made this class free for those who signed up by applying for an $800 grant from the Exceptional Faculty Award Program. She was also given a grant for last winter’s welding class.

Instructor Sarah Patterson demonstrates welding techniques at SPSCC’s “Burning Down the Barriers” event. Photo by James Egaran

Instructor Sarah Patterson demonstrates welding techniques at SPSCC’s “Burning Down the Barriers” event.
Photo by James Egaran

Other than just learning the skills of welding, Patterson said this class has really brought the women of the college community together.

Many of these women have worked here for years and have never met one another, said Patterson.

Patterson said she has also enjoyed “seeing students have that light bulb moment” as their confidence grows when learning a new skill.

Patterson had three student volunteers helping her with the spring welding session. She hoped these volunteers would break out of their shells a little she said, by teaching the women skills they are now confident in.

Student volunteer Nick Prianos said he was looking forward to teaching the skills he has learned through the school’s welding program. Prianos has been welding for about one year now.

Patterson said focusing “Burning Down the Barriers” on women has allowed her to see how amazing the women on this campus are.

It was great seeing many college librarians sign up for “Burning Down the Barriers” in the winter and learning how cathartic welding is especially for a woman, said Patterson.