Patrice Hernandez masters expertise in male-dominated air-conditioning business

Features Zainab Kamara 5 hours ago

Patrice Hernandez of Michier Road in Mayaro recently graduated from NESC as an Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineer. – Photos by Marvin Hamilton

Patrice Hernandez has no female role models to look up to in the air conditioning industry.

However, this hasn’t stopped the 26-year-old from following her own path and challenging the stereotype that the career path she has chosen is reserved for men.

Hernandez, who was the only female apprentice participating in the National Energy Skills Center (NESC) installation and maintenance program for air conditioning and cooling systems in Mayaro, overthrew 15 other students to secure her place as a class validator at the program’s graduation ceremony on Aug. March to secure.

“I was proud of my performance as a woman. I want to empower other women and motivate them to recognize that this is not just a men’s industry and that women can participate in it too. “

“There are no limits or restrictions on how women can achieve it. Anywhere men could go, we could do better. “

Hernandez said women shouldn’t hesitate to join the industry for fear of becoming victims. Fear, she said, “is just a mindset.”

“We’re holding back because we think we’re not strong enough or mentally not ready enough to join this sector or we could become victims.”

“With the men, I was on the same level and probably better than some of them because I could assert myself. We motivated each other. You didn’t treat me any differently. “

Hernandez said the program, which began in 2019, was supposed to last six months but has been suspended due to the Covid19 pandemic. However, she said the disruption did not prevent her from pursuing her goal of completing the program and becoming an entrepreneur.

In addition to installing and maintaining air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, students were taught business skills. With her new skills, Hernandez was able to start her business.

“Ever since I wanted to start my own business … I’ve been scared of opening my own business.”

Hernandez said this was due to failed business activities in the past, which included an online clothing store and a hydroponics store, as she lacked the entrepreneurial acumen she now has.

“I didn’t have the entrepreneurial background to have that solid foundation. When I started the entrepreneurship course, I acquired the knowledge. “

It’s not the first time Hernandez has been the only student on an NESC course that’s mostly male dominated. In 2017 she completed a construction course, in which she also excelled.

With all of the skills she’s acquired through NESC programs, Hernandez said she recently successfully renovated a beach house in Mayaro.

“I want to empower and motivate other women to realize that this is not just a men’s industry and that women can participate in it too,” says Patrice Hernandez, who recently graduated from the NESC as an air conditioning and refrigeration engineer. – –

“With the knowledge I gained from this course, I was able to set up all of my air conditioners myself and maintain all of my air conditioners. This has helped me run the business with a more stable mind than the business I had previously ventured into. “

Hernandez credits her mother for instilling “entrepreneurship” with her.

“My mother really motivated me to become the person I am today. She grew me up without a father. My father died at the age of three. She was an entrepreneur herself – ran a small business and looked after two young children by herself.

“She pushed me to do all these classes to get better.”

The NESC’s positive impact on Mayaro

Hernandez, a proud Mayaro native, said the NESC is making a positive impact on her community.

“The NESC is having a very positive effect. It keeps young people like me from doing the wrong things. It helps us direct our energies into something more positive and we can actually make money from it and have fun with it. “

Hernandez said she earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of the West Indies (UWI) but couldn’t find a job.

“I went to UWI and didn’t get any jobs with the course I did. I went to NESC and asked about their programs, and so I did those programs and actually got a job in the oil industry on this site … at Galeota Point. “

NESC has been operating in Mayaro since 2007 and offers programs in the areas of air conditioning and cooling, arc welding with shielded metal, electrical installation and information and communication technology. For over a decade, the center has worked with Perenco TT Limited to sponsor programs to help low-income students in Fenceline communities.

Lisa Joseph, dean of the NESC’s School of Continuing Education, said residents of Mayaro are always open to access to programs.

In a few weeks time, the center will set up an entrepreneurship hub as part of its student union. This initiative would provide guidance and resources for students to start their business.

More women in sectors traditionally dominated by men

Joseph said she was happy to see more women in the air conditioning industry and was especially proud of Hernandez’s accomplishment.

“It is not common for a woman to show up at your home to fix your air conditioner or refrigerator.

“In recent years, however, we’ve seen women show interest in these traditionally male-dominated areas and excel … not just for air conditioning repair, but drilling, welding, and other jobs that have been male-dominated for decades become. ”

Patrice Hernandez gets ready to service this air conditioner at Mayaro. – –

She said it is necessary for women and men to celebrate the accomplishments and leadership of women in the service.

“It is wonderful to see more women taking traditional male-dominated courses at the NESC and achieving excellence. If we continue to grow our women, our companies and our country will become stronger, safer and more successful. “

In the future, Hernandez hopes to start more business activities and expand their business to offer a wide range of air conditioning services.

“I want to start my own A / C company, where I install and sell air conditioning, but step by step.”

“This is just one of the beginnings.”