Socorro Guerrero (right) and Bettye Blagowsky (left) were introduced to the automotive industry at an early age. Soccorro grew up stopping by her uncle’s tire shop with her mom and Bettye remembers watching both of her step-brothers work on their cars in her parent’s driveway.
“My mom would take me with her when she would help out at Castillo’s Tire Shop, which is now owned by my brother,” Socorro said. “The environment was one filled with camaraderie and it made an impression on me.”
Bettye also had a similar experience growing up. “For years, I watched my dad and brothers work on their cars,” she said. So, as one can imagine, the day her eighth-grade class toured Terrell High School and she learned that there was an automotive program she couldn’t wait to enroll in.
Now, high school seniors, both young women have three years of automotive tech experience under their belt. “We have done everything from alignments and oil changes to brake jobs and tire rotations,” Bettye said. And, according to their instructor, Mr. Bryant, the ladies are at the top of their class.
“There is a stigma that the automotive industry is only a man’s world, and it is not,” said Bryant. “Bettye and Socorro retain information much quicker and work much harder than their male counterparts. No matter what I ask them to do they get it done. I give them a task, they ask questions and they figure it out,” he said.
“Girls deserve to be in the automotive industry just as much as guys,” said Socorro. “It feels good to know that I can diagnose a problem myself and that if I have to take my car in and pay for repairs I will not be taken advantage of.”
Both young women expressed the importance of young girls seeing someone that looks like them in this role. “When you see someone else that looks like you accomplish something you are also interested in, it helps you to realize you can do it too,” Soccoro shared. Enrolling in the classes, learning and being able to apply their knowledge on a daily basis has given Socorro and Bettye a sense of empowerment.
Bettye also shared that the classes have helped her to become more confident. “I am louder and prouder than I have ever been,” she said. “It has given me a voice.”
Breaking the stigma of the male-dominated automotive industry is something both girls feel is important. How do we accomplish this? By sharing the stories of young women just like Socorro and Bettye so that others may be inspired and follow in their footsteps.