Christian Del Valle

When Everyone Turned Aside, DACA Student Turned to Broward College

While awaiting a change to his undocumented immigration status, Christian Del Valle’s college plans remained in limbo. All that was given was the dark basement storage unit that he, his mother, and younger sister and brother returned to each night for sleep. Two weeks after graduating from high school, Christian Del Valle was out on the streets.

“That summer was the hardest,” said Del Valle, the proud product of a Broward College program that offers scholarships to motivated students who don’t know the meaning of quitting. “School would later become my escape. It was the only thing I had.”

Fighting for a Chance at the American Dream

Christian Del ValleBorn in Guatemala, Del Valle was living in Florida with his mother and father by the time he was 11 months old. Under those circumstances, Del Valle could not gain U.S. citizenship in the same way his younger brother and sister did, as they were born on American soil. He was “an issue” that only time and DACA status could remedy.

In the meantime, Dell Valle cleaned houses and washed cars. He wanted to dofor his mother and siblings what his father, who abandoned the family years earlier, never did.

“If I couldn’t go to school, maybe my brother and sister could,” said Dell Valle.“I wanted them to succeed.”

DACA and Broward College Offer Hope

Their prospects got a little brighter when Del Valle was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA. This status not only protected him from being deported, but also gave him access to work permits,his first legal job at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, and a fighter’s chance at higher education.

Faced with the daunting reality that he could never afford the cost of tuition, a co-worker told him about the Get Real! program at Broward College, which provides financial assistance to students with challenging situations. Del Valle figured his plight was formidable enough.

“I had no other place to turn,” said Del Valle. “Even people I thought were family had pushed us aside.  For the first time, someone cared.”

The Get Real! program provided the footing for Del Valle to launch his college ambitions and take advantage of all he ever wanted: a chance. And he hasn’t looked back since.

“I am grateful for the situation I endured,” said Del Valle, who graduates this spring (May 2019) with an associate degree. “If I live with regrets, I’m not living.”

Del Valle said Get Real! taught him to trust people and ask for help, and his life has gotten better, not easier. The family found a place to live in Cypress Creek, and he and his siblings continue to work and go to school. At times, Del Valle is both mentally and physically drained, but he persists. He wants to be the first person in his family to graduate from college.

“I’ve had so many reasons to give up, but I didn’t,” he said. “If I can get through homelessness, I can get through anything.”

In the future, Del Valle plans to continue his education, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. He wants to be the lifeboat for others to reach out to in the same way that Broward College rescued him.

You can find out more about scholarships and other Financial Aid programs at Broward College. To explore our more than 145 programs, visit www.broward.edu.


Sawdah and Sofin Asim

Through thick and thin – Mother and daughter work together towards completing their degrees

Nothing is impossible when a mother and daughter set a goal and join forces to achieve it. For Sofin and Sawdah Asim, they knew that if they wanted to get their college degrees, they had to work together to get to the finish line.

For the past two years, this power duo has overcome all the obstacles on their path towards completing their degrees at Broward College and this spring; they will be graduating. 19-year old Sawdah will be walking the stage on May 7 to collect her Associate of Science Degree in Computer Science and mom, 45-year old Sofin will be doing the candlelight ceremony for the Nursing program on May 8.

Overcoming personal challenges

Sawdah and Sofin AsimThree years ago, the two moved to the United States from the United Kingdom after Sofin’s mom, Sawdah’s grandmother, fell ill and needed someone to take care of her.

They enrolled at Broward College just a few months after, and while they knew it would be demanding, they didn’t know how hard it would be to balance everything. “Numerous times we felt like just giving up. Taking care of my mother on top of all the school work, the financial stress, and more, we felt overwhelmed,” explains Sofin.

However, as they say, teamwork makes the dream work. Over the next two years, they relied on each other for support and encouragement. They would try to have their class schedules match times and campus location. But, more often than not, it just wasn’t possible. Sometimes, after taking care of grandma in the morning, the pair would spend 10-12 hours at school, where Sawdah would have to wait hours for a ride home,while Sofin completed her clinical.

The Journey at Broward College

“There were no doubts when choosing Broward College. We had to go to the same college so we could share the car. Since I knew the Nursing program was well-recognized and that the College had a great overall academic record, I knew that for Sawdah it was a great choice as well,” says Sofin.

Sawdah agreed. “I am happy I attended Broward College because the professors are truly dedicated and committed to watching you succeed.”

While the Nursing program demanded full focus from Sofin, Sawdah started to join different student clubs on Campus. She became a member of the Honors Student Committee, taking on the role of Secretary since Oct. 2017. She was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Muslim Student Association.

She also took advantage of the study abroad opportunities. She applied to the scholarship and went to Japan for a business course. “Japan was a fantastic experience, and it reminded me so much of the U.K. It also allowed me to practice my Japanese,” says Sawdah, who also speaks German, French, some Spanish, and is currently learning Korean.

Reaching the Finish Line

Now that the end to their educational career is near, both mother and daughter are grateful that they didn’t give up.

“Despite all the challenges, I am proud of what we did. We are graduating college and education is worth all the obstacles. If I had to do it all over again, with the same challenges and obstacles, I definitely would,” says Sawdah.

“Now that I’m almost done, I think all that I went through was absolutely worth it. This is such a rewarding profession, and I can’t wait to be out there in the field helping others,” adds Sofin.

As graduation approaches, this duo has decided they would rather watch each other walk the stage than do it together. Sawdah will attend the commencement ceremony with her classmates and friends as Sofin cheers her on from the sidelines. Sawdah will attend the Nursing’s candlelight ceremony to support and celebrate her mother’s achievement.

“What we love the most about the College is that it is a welcoming place for everybody regardless of their age, religion, or race,” says Sawdah. “People should know that it is never late to pursue your dreams.”

Are you interested in a career in Computer Science or Nursing? You caln also visit  www.broward.edu/academics for more information on the programs available.


Robert Olsen

Respiratory Care Program Breathes Life into Career of 58-Year-Old BC Graduate

After a quarter-century of helping some of the largest companies in the United States avert crippling computer meltdowns, Robert Olsen saw the writing on the wall. As the high technology landscape shifted overseas and vintage programming language became more and more obsolete, many of the companies he had worked for reacted by replacing employees ages 40 and above with younger, less-experienced and lower-paid workers.

South Florida and Broward College provide a second chance

At 53-years-old, Olsen was not about ready to ride off into early retirement. He and his wife were willing to pack up the car and drive from their home in Connecticut to Davie, where he had learned of an opportunity in the health sciences that could breathe new life into his career.

Robert OlsenOnce Olsen decided to pick up roots, he knew the trail he would follow led to Florida. He just wasn’t quite sure where. His online research had revealed that respiratory therapists were in high demand, especially in Southeast Florida where there is a high concentration of seniors. When he learned that Broward College not only offered a variety health sciences program including respiratory care but was also ranked among the nation’s top community colleges, Olsen was sold. He soon moved from passing his prerequisite courses to enrolling in the respiratory care program.

“It was time to make a big decision,” said Olsen, who declared to his family and former coworkers that he was enrolling in a health sciences program at Broward College. “I didn’t want to fight for crumbs any longer in the shrinking mainframe software development industry with other displaced people.”

Up until now, as a mainframe programmer analyst, he knew plenty about platforms, software, hardware and the implantation of complex computer applications. Outside of some medical terminology he gained in the military, science was an entirely different field, one that he struggled with until he wound up dropping out after the second semester.

Finally….success!

Not ready to throw in the towel on his new career, Olsen waited a year before he applied to the program again. Since then, he has passed all courses in his path and is scheduled to graduate with an Associate of Science degree in May. In the meantime, he serves as a volunteer mentor to first-year classmates in the respiratory care program and tutors some nursing students on respiratory topics.

“Typically, I’ve been the oldest student in each of my classes,” said Olsen. “Graduating from Broward College will be bittersweet. I will miss being around the bright, young students who are extremely focused.”

“I find it tremendously rewarding to be in a hospital helping people who are running out of choices in life. To me, helping them is extremely satisfying,” said Olsen.

Olsen plans to continue his education toward a bachelor’s degree in health services administration. Once completed, he then hopes to return as a clinical intern instructor to Broward College, where he can give back to a program he said has given him so much.

“I never thought I would take this path or that I would enjoy healthcare this much. I feel this is because I’m helping people who really need help to stay alive. That’s more exciting than writing computer programs. And I have Broward College to thank for this new chapter in my life.”

Respiratory therapists work with advanced medical equipment to help patients who cannot breathe on their own. Learn how to earn an associate degree in this rewarding field.


Lingling Qian

The road from China to Broward College Graduation Filled with Grit for 45-Year-Old Mother

Whenever she went shopping, Lingling Qian subjected herself to frustrated looks from store clerks who sometimes could not understand a word she was speaking. Simple everyday chores seemed to be momentous undertakings. After an attempt to pay her water bill online failed, Qian reluctantly dialed the utility office phone number.

“The lady on the line couldn’t understand me,” said Qian, who was born in China, immigrated to Canada when she was 30 years old and settled in Fort Lauderdale after she married her husband, Tom, in 2006. “So, I tried to speak slowly, but I guess she either had an attitude or was short-tempered.”

When the woman abruptly hung up the phone, Qian broke down and cried the remainder of the day. Each time she wiped away a tear from her eyes, her predicament became a little clearer. She might never become self-sufficient in the United States, she reasoned, unless she learned English. With a little prodding from her husband, Qian enrolled in the English for Academic Purposes Program at Broward College.

Growing up in a small house outside Tiananmen Square, Qian thought she “looked weird” because of her lanky height. Her confidence dragged until her basketball coach in Beijing helped her to change her attitude. His impetus inspired her to think of a career in teaching, where she could help others who were struggling with issues of self-esteem like she once did.

Because programs for teaching the disabled were not offered in China, Qian studied sports psychology, earning her first associate degree. She then left for what she believed would be more opportunities in Canada, where she lived comfortably in a section of Vancouver where many residents spoke her native Mandarin Chinese.

Struggling to Fit in

Lingling QianAlmost five years later, married and far from her comfort zone, she found herself again struggling to fit in in South Florida.

Qian learned that the acquisition of English could be much more difficult for immigrants, like herself, who come to the United States as adults. Facing an entirely new set of challenges at Broward College, Qian took shelter in the library, where she re-read paragraphs in English until sentences ran together. At home she found escape in soap operas, picking up a phrase or two of English while watching “Sex in the City.” Her grit and determination paid off when she earned an associate degree with honors in teacher education. 

But as a requirement for entrance into the Teacher Education Program at Broward College, she would have to pass the General Knowledge Exam. Those plans were put on hold for two years when she had to tend to her young daughter, who almost lost her leg in an accident. By the time Qian was ready to return to Broward College in August 2015, she felt as if she were back at square one.

Passing the GKE had become more worrisome than she had ever imagined. After failing in her first attempt, Qian took the test again with the same discouraging results.

“I can’t remember how many times I cried,” said Qian, recounting the times she failed to pass the GKE. “I thought of quitting. I figured I’d just become a teacher’s assistant. I didn’t need this.”

Last Stumbling Block

To her credit, and the encouragement of her husband and instructors at Broward College, Qian didn’t give up. Instead, she studied harder, went to the library on weekends and exhausted all workshops and seminars that would help prepare her for the next GKE, the last stumbling block to fulfilling her dream to teach.

Qian’s decade-long journey toward a career independence – a tribute to her dedication and new-found confidence – culminated when she passed the exam.

“My husband is relieved, he won’t have to hear me cry anymore!” joked Qian, with a beaming smile

She will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Education. A decade later and 45 years-young, she will be teaching Mandarin Chinese in the Pembroke Pines public schools’ system and, in her off time, shopping for her family with faith in herself.

Are you looking for a career in which you can inspire and help others? Learn about how you can gain the qualifications and training at Broward College to effective teach and impact learning in the community


Pernilla Sorenson

From Sweden to Broward College, International Student is Aims High on the Court and in the Classroom

Despite collapsing to the floor during basketball practice this season with what doctors later described as a heart irregularity, Pernilla Sorenson didn’t skip a beat. She continues to live, eat and breathe basketball, much to the delight of her teammates, coaches, and family back home in her native Sweden.

Since arriving in Florida from Sweden to attend Broward College two years ago, Sorenson has been a standout on the basketball court.  Her athletic prowess may not have come to light had doctors not found that Sorenson suffered from a genetic condition that required, of all things, additional physical activity to prevent her blood pressure from lowering to levels that would cause her to lose consciousness. In other words, the diagnosis was to play more basketball.

And she did. When she’s not at class or in the library, Sorenson can always be found in the gym shooting baskets. Because of her focus and work ethic, she was this year named to the All-Southern Conference second team for the second consecutive year. Last season for the Seahawks, she averaged 11 points per game and ranked nationally among the top 100 rebounders and top 50 three-point shooters.

Excellence on and off the court

Pernilla SorensonBut Sorenson doesn’t just draw raves on the court, her professors and the international admissions staff applaud her attentiveness and quality of work in the classroom as well. She is a finalist for the Florida scholar-athlete of the year and will graduate from Broward College in May with a 4.0 grade-point average. As a business major, Sorenson was named to the 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association Academic All-America team. She will continue her academic and basketball careers on scholarship in the fall at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

“I’ve always had a goal to play basketball and at a high level,” said Sorenson, who shares a home 10 minutes from Broward College Judson A. Samuels South Campus with four other Swedish players on the Seahawks women’s basketball team. Each is a scholar-athlete in their own rights.

The unlikely quintet decided to attend Broward College together when they were recruited by women’s coach Brian McCormick who was impressed by their play on club teams in Sweden.

“I wanted a challenge,” said Sorenson. “I wanted to do something different. Broward College was a good way for me to get a degree and at the same time play basketball.”

Establishing a home away from home

The adjustment to college life abroad in the United States was made easier by the culture and language she shared with her Swedish teammates.

“My English has improved a lot,” said Sorenson, who is admittedly shy. “In the beginning, I was very quiet. I couldn’t be myself. But the people here have been nice.”

Sorenson said her teammates are inseparable. They bike together and go to the beach and mall, but with their focus always on school and basketball.

“Our team is very close,” said Sorenson, who misses traditional Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, but has come to terms with lasagna and pasta with carbonara and Bolognese sauce. “We’re like family here.”

And, although she misses her family back home, she keeps in touch with her parents and sister and brother on FaceTime.

“Everything has worked out pretty well,” said Sorenson. “It’s been a goal of mine to graduate with a college degree. “It’s a nice feeling to know that I’ve accomplished that.”

Broward hosts F-1 and M-1 visa international students from nearly 150 different countries. Applying to Broward Col Broward as an international student is simple.


Professor of the Year 2018-2019

Broward College Names the 2018-2019 Professors of the Year

Following the tradition to recognize the best of our faculty, Broward College announced the winners for the 2018-2019 Professor of the Year awards. The awards celebrate dedicated, innovative, and creative part-time and full-time faculty. Professors are nominated by their peers and students on each campus. 

Professor of the Year 2018-2019Twelve faculty members collegewide will be recognized this year during the spring commencement ceremony at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on May 7.  

Hugh Adams Central Campus

  • Professor Brian Faris has been an employee of Broward College for the past 18-years. He became a full-time faculty member in August 2007 teaching courses in Networking Services Technology. 
  • Dr. Behnoush Memari has been a full-time professor of Chemistry at Broward College since 2003. She has served in several roles at the College, including, associate academic dean, contextual consultant, and e-Associate for Instructional Technology. She was named Endowed Teaching Chair in 2008 and 2013 and was also previously named a Professor of the Year.
  • Professor Jennifer Millien is a part-time professor of Media Technology since 2016. She is actively involved in the Women in Film Association for Broward College.
  • Professor Serge Komovsky has been a part-time professor of Mathematics at the College since 2015. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the National Aviation University in Kiev, Ukraine. 

North Campus 

  • Professor Amber Abels has been teaching Biology and Anatomy at Broward College for the past two years as full-time faculty. She is currently working towards a Doctorate in Education with a focus on educational technology at the University of Florida.
  • Professor Marcus Sousa is a former Broward College student who earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary Mathematics Education from the College. He now teaches Mathematics part-time alongside his former instructors.
  • Dr. Leon Weissberg has been an educator for 48 years. He has been with Broward College for the past five years teaching different history courses. Dr. Weissberg is currently a part-time professor of American History for the College Academy.

Judson A. Samuels South Campus 

  • Professor Simone Keize has been teaching full-time at Broward College since 2013. In addition to her role as professor, she created the Accountant Students Association (ASA), which helps students with networking, scholarships, and job opportunities.
  • Professor Yvonne P. Morris is a part-time professor at the ArtsHumanitiesCommunication and Design Pathway at Broward College since 2009. She is also an author, speaker, and certified holistic life coach that holds master’s degrees in Communication and HR Management. 
  • Professor Jennifer Killam has been teaching English for Academic Purposes for the past two years as part-time faculty. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Online Campus 

  • Professor Margo Butler is a full-time faculty member of the Liberal Arts department. She started at the College in 1998 and was one of the first to develop an online course for Broward College Online
  • Professor Douglas Phinney is part-time professor of American History at the College for the past ten years. He was first a professor at South Campus and later moved to Online as the College created its Online campus. 

Congratulations to our Professors of the Year! 

Learn more about Broward College and its exceptional faculty by visiting www.broward.edu. 


Photo of Lucas Ferreira

Broward College Student Awarded Prestigious Transfer Scholarship

Lucas Araujo Ferreira, a student at Broward College, is one of 61 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Ferreira with up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Photo of Lucas Ferreira

Ferreira, of Hollywood, Florida, will receive an Associate in Arts with a specialization in computer science at the Broward College spring commencement ceremony in May. An Honors student graduating with a 3.92 grade-point average, Ferreira is a former student government president and new student orientation leader who overcame financial hardship in his native Brazil before immigrating to the United States to enroll at Broward College. Ferreira plans to transfer to an Ivy League school in the fall, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“Broward College is extremely proud to have one of our own students selected for this esteemed award,” said Broward College President Gregory Adam Haile, Esq. “The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is confirmation of what we at Broward College already know: that Lucas, and many of our students, are remarkably driven, resilient, talented and highly deserving of this award, and every support available to ensure their success.”

Since the launch of the scholarship in 2000, 21 Broward College students have won the award. In addition to the monetary grant, these new Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from Foundation staff to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their careers. The Foundation will additionally provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and access to a thriving network of nearly 2,500 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.

Nearly 1,500 students applied for the 2019 Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on academic ability, persistence, leadership, and service to others. The recipients selected represent 18 different states, have a median household adjusted gross income of $28,000 and an average GPA of 3.93. This year’s cohort of Cooke Transfer Scholars has applied to the nation’s most selective institutions.

Interested in learning more about the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship? Sign up to receive an email alert when the application opens again this fall!


2019 Endowed Teaching Chair

Seven Exceptional Faculty Members Recognized with 2019 Endowed Teaching Chair Awards

On Thursday, April 18, 2019, seven faculty members were surprised in their classrooms with the 2019 Endowed Teaching Chair awards. The Broward Community College Foundation established the project in 1989, in celebration of the College’s 30th anniversary, to highlight exceptional faculty.  

“We seek to identify the very best of our faculty and recognize their fantastic work,” said President Gregory Adam Haile, Esq. “It’s important for us, the College, to celebrate them. And what better way to do so than with the Endowed Teaching Chair Awards.”  

2019 Endowed Teaching ChairThe awards recognize faculty members that pursue innovation in the classroom. The $10,000 grant that accompanies the recognition is intended for professional development and to support the implementation of projects that improve the classroom experience for students. Each chair is sponsored by an organization from the community. 

“My students are the reason I’m here. I want to see them succeed, I care about them, and they make my job the best job in the world,” said Savena Budhu Barajas, assistant professor of English as she reacted to the unexpected visit. 

The seven recipients were selected by a panel of their peers following an in-depth review. They are: 

Children’s Opportunity Group Endowed Teaching Chair – Dr. Savena Budhu Barajas is an assistant professor of EnglishShe developed the Caribbean Literature course that may be used as a General Education requirement. Dr. Barajas is a recipient of the 2012 Student Life Development award and Professor of the Year. 

Bank of America I Endowed Teaching Chair – Dr. Scott Demsky is a math professor. He took a break from teaching and spent 25 years at IBM as a software developer. Dr. Demsky returned to higher education at Broward College, where he is also a member of the College’s Critical Thinking Learning Society. 

Bank of America II Endowed Teaching Chair – Benjamin Botero is a Criminal Justice assistant professor, holder of three master’s degrees. He is also the mentor to the Criminal Justice Club. Botero received the 2017 Broward College Central Campus Professor of the Year, and it’s a two-time ASPEN Faculty Innovation Award recipient.  

Margaret and Cato Roach Endowed Teaching Chair – Lourdes Heuer is an assistant professor of English, advisor for the Broward College Online Read Book Club, and a member of the College Read Committee. She is also a member of the National Council of Teachers of English and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

International Education Endowed Teaching Chair – Dr. Isis Silva is an associate professor of Education. Silva has presented at the annual Council on International Education Exchange conference in Barcelona. During the 2019 spring break, she helped lead a study abroad course for the College in France. 

Gaddis Corporation Endowed Teaching Chair – Rudy Jean-Bart is an assistant professor of History. He is the faculty advisor for the Black Student Union and Food for Thought. A recipient of the ASPEN Faculty Innovation Grant, Jean-Bart has hosted the college-wide TEDx event.  

Cleveland Clinic Florida Endowed Teaching Chair – Dr. Ellen Glazer is an assistant professor of Computer and Information Science and recipient of two ETC awards, the first in 2006.  

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For more check out our photo album on Flickr.

Learn more about Broward College and our exceptional faculty, visit www.broward.edu. 


Automotive Technology

Changing Perceptions – Women in Automotive

Sometimes life’s biggest challenges can be turned into rewarding events. This is the case for Ashley Burroughs, who stumbled upon her future career when she totaled a beloved family car back in 2012.

“At the time, I was working in restaurants and barely making enough to get by. I couldn’t afford to repair the car, so I figured I would try to do it myself. I asked a good friend of mine who tutored me through it,” says Ashley. “By the time I was done with it, I realized that this was something I could do professionally.”

Automotive TechnologyAutomotive Technology is one of over 140 programs offered at Broward College. The program, which started at the College in 2006, trains students to become auto specialists qualified to work on the highly-sophisticated cars of today. In partnership with the Broward County Technical Colleges, Broward College provides technical training for the students at an affordable price.

The training follows dealer-specific requirements that include engine repair, electrical systems, brake, transmissions, and more.

Women in Automotive

Throughout the entire industry, women are underrepresented. In 2017, women represented 26.7 percent of the industry’s workforce in all positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When it comes to automotive technicians, women only represent 9.6 percent of the employees.

“It’s sad to see such a small percentage of women in this industry,” says James Norton, professor of Automotive at the College. “The female students that have completed this program have gone on to hold positions as Service Advisers, Service Managers, Mechanics, and more. And they tend to do better than their male counterparts.”

Ashley worked as a mechanic for a year before enrolling in College, and during that time she faced discrimination not only from clients but from her friends and family. “It was very frustrating having to deal with sexism, but at the same time I found more purpose to be the best I could be and show that I am just as qualified and can do the same or even a better job than my male colleagues,” she says.

Ashley’s ultimate goal is to work as a technician for General Motors. She currently holds six Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications.

The industry – Facts and Numbers

The automotive industry is expected to grow 6 percent through 2026. As of 2017, the median pay was $39,550 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Interested in pursuing a career in Automotive Technology? Visit the program’s website.

Register for an information session and program tour here.

Learn more about career opportunities in the Industry, Manufacturing, Construction, and Transportation (IMCT) Pathway, here.


Sidney Oakes

Changing Perceptions – Women in Marine Engineering

Sidney Oakes is focused on the task at hand. She’s repairing a boat engine as part of her training to becoming a Marine Engineer. It’s the kind of job that requires her full attention. Currently, Sidney is working towards the first milestone of the program: becoming a certified Marine Electrician.

The 21-year old inherited her passion for g the field from her father. Thanks to his encouragement, she decided to make that passion into a lifetime career. So, she enrolled in Broward College in January 2019.

Broward College offers the opportunity to earn an Associate degree in Marine Engineering while also earning important certifications in the field. The two-year program combines technical and academic training that meets the needs of the industry. The College partnered with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) to offer the most up-to-date curriculum. In Broward County, one of the leading locations for the yacht industry, this program is in high demand.

Women in Marine

Women represent only 9.3 percent of the industry’s workforce in the United States. Worldwide, the number is even lower, with studies showing the number of female marine engineers at 2 percent.

Sidney Oakes“It’s not easy to go into a field that’s so heavily dominated by men,” explains Sidney. “Had I not been encouraged and supported by my dad from a very early age to follow my dreams, I may not have gone into this field.”

For her, seeing a more balanced gender representation is imperative to inspire more women to enter the industry. “Seeing more women in Maritime jobs will inspire women to disregard biases and prejudices and pursue a career as Marine Engineers,” she explains. “Both men and women can do this job. We just need to educate women from early that whatever their dreams and goals are, they can accomplish them if they work hard.”

For these percentages to grow, industry experts believe inclusion must start at the education level. “Sadly, there is not a drastic increase in the number of female students in the programs,” says Alvaro Lopez, program manager of the Marine Engineering program at Broward College. “Over the past ten years, our numbers have remained the same. For every 25 male students, only two or three are female.”

He feels that at the professional level change is already evident. “Every day I see more women engineers occupying positions on big ships and mega yachts. I’m also seeing more women in senior management positions in Marinas and shipyards,” says Lopez.

The industry – Facts and Numbers

With an average pay of $90,970 per year and an expected growth of 12 percent through 2026, Marine Engineering is a high-demand profession.

Marine technicians are hired for the maintenance, repair, and design of the internal systems of ships, yachts, sailboats and such.

Learn more about job opportunities in Marine Engineering.

Are you interested in touring the facilities? Register on Eventbrite for information sessions.