After-school welding club sparking interest among girls

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After-school welding club sparking interest among girls

The hiss of welding torches has fascinated Yaqeen Nihad-Abdulkarim ever since she was a little girl growing up in Iraq, watching her father weld at the shop he owned.

She dreamed of become a welder too, and after her family moved to Ottawa, she heard about a welding program at St. Patrick's High School on Alta Vista Drive.

Nihad-Abdulkarim, who is now in Grade 9, said she knew right away that's where she wanted to go to high school.

"My grandma wanted to learn how to weld just like me when she was younger. She said that I acted like how she acted when she was little," she recently told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

"I was this person that always wanted to do stuff her own way. I told my dad once that I wanted to become a welder. He didn't say no, but my mom is definitely the one who encouraged me the most."

'They're more comfortable in here'

The classes are filled mainly with boys, so teacher Rob Lavergne started an after-school welding club just for girls two years ago.

"Usually in a class of 20 I'll have anywhere from two to three [girls]," Lavergne said.

"Being a former business automotive person, there wasn't enough women in the trades and I figured it would be a great way to get things started ... to show them that it's not a man's world out there.

"They're more comfortable in here.... Sometimes some of the ladies might be intimidated, thinking it is only a man's world in the tech world and automotive welding, and stuff like that."

Nihad-Abdulkarim said she's happy to be among the best students in her welding class, and she hopes more girls will become interested in the trade.

Listen to more of the interview with Nihad-Abdulkarim and Lavergne here.