The Next Generation: ‘I learn so much every day I walk into class’
Editor’s Note: Along with the women we feature who are currently working in male-dominated industries, we are featuring female students at the Darlington County Institute of Technology who are taking classes in some of those same fields. DCIT staff has provided the biographies and photos of these students to us. We extend special thanks to Robbie Smith and Aurelia Burgess at DCIT for partnering with us on this project.
Katie Highfill always dared to dream big. When she was younger, she dreamed of being a doctor. When she got to middle school, she wanted to be a singer. For one reason or another, she decided that neither of these were exactly what she was looking to do for the rest of her life. She changed her mind a lot during those early years. Many career choices seemed fun or exciting and like they were the right choice at the time. When Katie reached 10th grade, her picture started to sharpen about her future.
During the 10th grade, students in Darlington County travel to DCIT. This trip occurs prior to students having an Individualized Graduation Plan (IGP) meeting with their counselor. In Darlington County, career exploration occurs early and often, but in 10th grade, it begins to focus more specifically. Katie was particularly impressed with the Machine Tool shop when she toured DCIT.
She is now a 17 year old, 11th grader at Darlington High School. She will be graduating in 2019. She has taken the first step toward a career as a machinist by enrolling in the Machine Tool Technology class at DCIT. According to Katie, “that school is amazing. I learn so much every day I walk into that class.” She is bold enough to pursue her dreams despite the fact that she is the only girl in all Machine Tool classes put together.
“I don’t let the boys stop me from what I like to do best,” Highfill said.
James Griggs is the instructor for Machine Tool Technology. According to Griggs, “Katie is a smart, hardworking, and motivated young lady. She is always working hard on her assignments and continues to amaze me with how fast she learns new skills. Katie is a pleasure to teach. I would love to have several more young ladies in my classes, especially if they work as hard as Katie.”
Highfill plans to become a completer at DCIT by taking two additional units of Machine Tool next year. She looks forward to entering the workforce after graduation and has expressed an interest in seeking employment at FN America, a factory that manufactures firearms for military, law enforcement and commercial customers.