Female BTVI students making waves in technical education
By Hadassah Hall, BTVI
Feb 5, 2016 - 12:38:09 PM
BTVI students (L-R): Jordanna Kelly, Katie Adderley-Butler, and Kelliah Kelly
Nassau, New Providence - Kelliah Kelly was intimidated
the first day she stepped into an Auto Mechanics class at The Bahamas Technical
and Vocational Institution (BTVI). She
was surrounded by a group of males who wondered whether she was lost. Today, she is one of the top students and has
fully embraced her passion for fixing vehicles.
“First, I couldn’t engage in
conversation with the guys, but my first semester was fantastic and now, my
Engine Systems’ instructor has appointed me as class supervisor,” the
19-year-old stated proudly.
The young woman who initially
wanted to become an architect is now in her second semester at BTVI and has
already gotten work experience, having landed a Christmas job at Ace Auto. Kelliah, who received an A in the Auto
Mechanics Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exam, said
because of the knowledge gained at BTVI, she can change transmissions, fix
ignition switches and rebuild starters.
Kelliah encourages other
females to make the jump into male-dominated professions, not allowing the
gender gap to widen. “Don’t be afraid. Step out and do what you have a passion
for. Passion drives you. Follow it,” she advised.
agrees. The Inspector at the Ministry of
Works is completing her Associate of Applied Science degree in Construction
Technology. As a member of the
Inspectorate department for over 11 years, Katie knows all too well the feeling
of occupational gender segregation; however, she is not daunted.
“There are still some
customers who are not open to a woman inspector. And at BTVI, once my male
classmates see me take charge and feel I know what I’m doing, they tend to
trust me. I always have to be proving
myself in a man’s field,” said Katie, who received a certificate in Electrical
Installation from BTVI in 1991.
She added that despite
stereotypes about women's abilities in
construction trades, as a female in several male-dominated classes, BTVI’s
instructors treat her equally.
“Instructors don’t see my
gender. They just see a student needing
information,” she noted.
The single mother, who is a
full-time worker and full-time student taking six courses this semester, finds
herself encouraging the few other female students she meets in her classes.
“I tell them to learn all
they can learn. Get that trade because
at the end of the day, they must diversify.
As long as they live, learn something new,” stated Katie.
Also joining Kelliah and
Katie is carpentry major, Jordanna Kelly.
The future sculptor, who has an Associate’s degree in Art with
distinction from The College of The Bahamas, said her experience working at
Baha Mar made her realize how beneficial attending BTVI would be.
“Two days after graduation, Baha
Mar’s Creative Arts Director, John Cox called and I thought I would be a helper
in the art gallery. They actually
commissioned me to do artwork for Baha Mar’s convention centre,” said the
23-year-old whose work has been displayed in major art galleries locally.
“That was the push to come to
BTVI, we were using wooden jigs for welding and my heart is more in
installation work - not only paintings on a wall. I want to be more proficient
with wood and carpentry overall. Art isn’t just about drawing; there is
furniture designing and more. I want to do a lot of glass blowing and welding,
exploring different experiences and pushing the envelope,” said Jordanna who received
the highest award in the 2010 Art and Crafts BGCSE
admitted that her initial experience at BTVI was challenging.
“My first day in carpentry, I
came home crying. I was embarrassed. I
couldn’t drive a three inch nail with three blows into the wall without being
there for 15 minutes trying. Now, I’m at
the top of the class. My instructor
calls me the foreman. I refuse to be the weakest link,” she declared.
After just one semester at
BTVI, Jordanna can cut durock and can handle a table saw, often volunteering to
try new tools and being the first to jump on a roof. She said BTVI has made a huge difference in
“I have made so many strong
connections between faculty and students; they have so much knowledge. I used to think BTVI was a couple notches
below COB, but it’s very organized. It’s
a hidden gem,” she said.
© Copyright 2016 by thebahamasweekly.com -