When Bridgette Ross made the decision to attend WyoTech in Laramie, WY, to study auto collision refinishing, many people questioned whether it was the right choice.
Ross wanted to take her love for cars and turn it into a career in an industry historically dominated by men.
“I’ve always been into cars ever since I was little,” she said. “I really love the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies. I like custom things and designing things. That’s why I took custom fabrication and paint. I was challenged by a lot of people and nobody thought I was going to be able to do it. I have two small children that stayed here with their dad while I went to school. It was pretty challenging. Some days were really emotionally taxing. I didn’t get any assistance, so I had to work two jobs to make my car payment and to be able to come home to see my kids. It was really rewarding, but now I don’t know what to do with my free time.”
Ross made it through the program---which only had around 10 other women in it---and is now a collision and paint technician at CARSTAR, 402 N. Main St., Ottawa. She is the only female in the shop and said she really wasn’t hesitant about the job.
“This is my first job,” she said. “I’m pretty sassy. When I came in I started rearranging things and cleaning. I thought, ‘They will get to know me and learn to love me.’”
She knew she was accepted when the guys at the shop played a prank on her.
“They didn’t know what to think of me at first,” she said. “They positioned a piece of duct tape to make it look like a part I was working on was scratched and needed to be repainted. I was about to lose my mind, and then I touched it and the tape came off. They said it was the reaction they expected.”