(ABILENE, Texas) – Racheal Dupre has exchanged her stethoscope for a wrench.
The former nurse is pursuing Associate of Applied Science degrees in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at Texas State Technical College. In her first year in the program, Dupre has been pleased with what she has been able to accomplish.
“I have worked at Eagle Aviation for two years as a parts crew chief, and the TSTC programs caught my interest,” Dupre said. “I have always loved airplanes, and the program has already helped me move up at work.”
Dupre is now a repair person and wants to continue to advance at Eagle Aviation.
“This is home for me and my family,” said the Trent native. “I am really excited about the opportunities in store for me at school and work.”
According to Dupre, her father taught his daughters to be independent and self-sufficient. That meant learning to work on engines.
“I worked on vehicles and motorcycles,” she said. “My dad taught all of his daughters the things they needed to know to survive.”
Dupre said it was natural for her to grow from the small engines of a motorcycle to those in airplanes. While working at Eagle Aviation, she knew that TSTC offered degrees in aviation.
“I never knew what was in the (TSTC) hangar while I was working at Eagle — and it is right across the street from work,” she said. “When I first walked in the hangar, I was like ‘wow.’ It was impressive to see everything in the hangar and what was being offered.”
What drew Dupre to the program was the hands-on approach during class. Instructor Brian Wilkins said the first-year students are working hard together to make sure everyone succeeds.
“We have a big first-year group, and that is great for our program,” he said. “All of the students are working hard during lab sessions, and they are working together.”
Dupre said the online portion of class is a challenge for her. However, she has a support system both at school and at home.
“I am married and a mom of three. With a full-time job and working full time, I have to find time to get my assignments done,” she said. “My husband is supportive and helps me when he knows it is time for me to study.”
Dupre hopes she continues to see more women enroll in the program.
“It is not like the old days when it was a male-dominated job,” she said. “We know there are some challenges as women, but we will work through them.”
Dupre’s co-workers are showing her support while she is in school.
“They are so easy to work with and supportive at work,” she said. “Everyone wants to see me succeed.”
The need for aircraft mechanics in Texas is forecast to grow 8% by 2028, according to onetonline.org. The average salary for a technician is $66,260, the website showed.
TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.