Alumni Spotlight: Patricia Stroderd

Drafting and Design Technology Graduate

Graduated Fall 2017

After moving back to Lake Charles with her family, Patricia Stroderd planned to take a few classes at SOWELA to get her basics before transferring elsewhere. However, those plans changed after being on campus and discovering the Drafting and Design Technology program.

“I was interested in engineering and skilled in math. Attending later in life, I really wanted to work in industry but needed an education conducive to having a family,” said Stroderd. “After talking to friends and family in engineering about SOWELA's Drafting program, they encouraged me to go for it, and the two-year program didn't take long, which was a huge benefit.”

Drafting is typically a male-dominated field, so not only was Stroderd going back to college later in life and as a mother, but her career path of choice was also nontraditional. Stroderd admits she was initially nervous but experienced little doubt from her colleagues.

“More and more women are entering drafting and excelling at it,” said Stroderd. “To me, saying it's nontraditional drives me to make it a traditional female career, and it drives me to work harder and show that I can be successful.”

A career path is nontraditional when one gender comprises less than 25% of individuals employed in that field or occupation. SOWELA's student body is 54 percent female. Many of them are succeeding in nontraditional career paths thanks to supportive faculty and staff.

“Faculty and staff are so invested in the success of every single student at SOWELA,” said Stroderd. “I never felt like a number or that I simply represented tuition money.

For anyone considering a nontraditional career path, Stroderd says, “Put aside what is nontraditional or even what you think a community college is. It may be exactly what works for you.”