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Metallica Scholar discovers rewarding welding career

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Oct 12, 2021

Welding is an impressively skilled industry to work in. But why do more men pursue the field than women? According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, only 5.5 percent of workers in welding and brazing are women, and only 1.2 percent of automotive service and technicians are women.

College of Lake County (CLC) student Karina Badillo is laser focused on changing those stats.

Photo of Karina BadilloVery aware of the perceived challenges women face working in a trade seen by many as masculine, Badillo says the gender obstacle is a misconception. “No doubt, welding is a gateway for women who strive to eliminate the gender offset.”

“A welding career has so much to offer everyone, especially women,” Badillo said. “The career is ever growing and stable. Plus, it offers the opportunity for a rather lavish life. If anything, I've learned the benefits of working in the welding industry outweigh the scary aura surrounding the trade.”

A graduate from Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Badilla is a second-year student and apprentice studying auto collision repair at CLC. She is pursuing a career in automotive restoration, a combination of welding and fabrication.

Badillo’s welding instructor, Karsten Illg, is the reason why she became a Metallica Scholar. She admits not knowing where to start with applying for scholarships, but Illg encouraged and helped her apply for the scholarship program. Now she proudly sports her Metallica t-shirt. The scholarship funds will help pay for the expensive protective welding jacket and gloves she needs.

Photo of Karina Badillo welding“Karina’s interest in working with her hands is nothing short of genuine dedication,” Illg said. “Hardly into her second year in the welding program and she is one of our most dedicated and skilled student welders. Some students need to work really hard to learn how to weld. With Karina, it seems to come naturally, and it’s thrilling to watch her take to these challenges with such ease.”

“The faculty at CLC are really supportive,” Badilla said, describing her experience at the college as beneficial. “Instructors want to help students reach their goals.”

With the dream of opening an auto body and beauty salon business with her cosmologist sister, Badillo wants to change the perception that women don’t know anything about cars.

She wants other students to know it’s okay to try.

“Failure isn’t a thing unless you’re not trying,” she said. “Once you start, it’s easy to keep going. You live and learn.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.