2S0A4026 372x451 - Determination keeps female TSTC Industrial Systems student focused on career goal

(RED OAK, Texas) – As a second-semester Texas State Technical College student, mother of two, and shift lead for a Target distribution center, Brianna Heckard has worked to find balance while pursuing her goal of working in a male-dominated career field.

Heckard’s interest in pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems at TSTC was first sparked during her time working on Target’s engineering facilities team. 

According to Jarriet Durham, an Industrial Systems instructor at TSTC’s North Texas campus, only about 10% of the program’s students on that campus are women. 

Students in the program are trained for jobs that keep machinery operating smoothly in industries like oil and gas, chemical, and manufacturing — with most such jobs being held by men. That is one of the reasons that Heckard said she chose to pursue the career.

“As a woman, you’re not (as) recognized or sought out (in this field),” she said. “(People say), ‘You can’t do that, you’re a female, you’re a woman.’ That’s probably why I’m doing this, honestly.”

Pursuing her goals has not been easy for Heckard.

“I’m pushing through it,” she said. “I do have two daughters, and they’re both toddlers. I work a 12-hour shift on top of coming here for four hours. I would say at home, work is what’s hardest for me because I don’t have time. You just have to find the time.”

Despite these challenges, Heckard encourages others in a similar situation to go for it.

“Stay strong, push through it,” she said. “Keep an open mind.”

Durham said he has witnessed the dedication that Heckard has for her education.

“Her hunger for knowledge and desire to understand how things work show that she has great potential to be a leader in the industry,” Durham said. 

Following graduation, Heckard hopes to return to work with Target’s engineering facilities team. 

According to onetonline.org, industrial machinery mechanics make an average of $58,360 a year in Texas. The number of these jobs in the state was projected to grow 35% between 2020 and 2030, according to the website. 

TSTC offers Industrial Systems at its Abilene, East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Marshall, New Braunfels, North Texas and Waco locations.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu

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