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Gaining the tools of the trades

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Class act: Marvelyn Rogers is one of two women graduating from the Automotive Technology Diploma programme at Bermuda College (Photographs by Blaire Simmons)

It was the tools that attracted Marvelyn Rogers to the trades.

Growing up in close-knit neighbourhoods, she always admired the skills of her male peers as they took apart and built their own motorbikes.

“When I was younger I grew up in two different neighbourhoods, but one had practically all boys,” she said.

“I was always interested in learning how to do that and I guess that’s what stayed in my mind for all those years.”

The 53-year-old said she didn’t think she could take a bike apart and put it back together ... yet.

Today she is one of two females graduating the Automotive Technology Diploma programme at the Bermuda College.

Ms Rogers is the recipient of a scholarship established by a Bermuda College alumna, Brenda Carbonette to encourage other females to the trades.

When Ms Carbonette earned her diploma in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) programme she realised there weren’t a lot of women in the trades and set out to create a scholarship.

Ellsworth Lovell, a teacher at Bermuda College, recommended Ms Rogers as the first recipient of the $3,000 scholarship, The Tradeswomen of Bermuda Association and Award.

Her daughters call her “a professional student”, teasing her for her prolonged college career.

Ms Rogers began her professional life as a geriatric aid.

“When I was a teenager I wanted to get into it, but back then it definitely wasn’t a girls job,” she said.

The mother of seven — three daughters and four stepdaughters — said she tried “a whole lot of different things” before returning to her original ambitions.

“I started my first job when I was 18 at the Pembroke Rest Home and a few years later, I was told that I should get my geriatric certificate.

“I was a qualified geriatric aid and worked for Pembroke parish cancel for 27 years.”

She got her GED in 2001 and started at the Bermuda College in 2003.

“I thought I wanted to be a teacher. It took a whole lot of years before I realised that maybe that too was not something I was supposed to do.”

Her heart just wasn’t in it.

Struggling to keep her grade average consistent, she told Glenda Gibson, administrative assistant at the college, of her unforgotten interest in mechanics.

“She told me, It’s not too late,” Mrs Rogers said.

A dear friend from church gave her the $800 needed to begin her education.

“Because of her I was able to do my core classes during the summer and begin the motor vehicle course in August 2014.

“I really liked it. I guess that’s what I was supposed to do because my grades maintained. My GPA went up. I’ve had all As and just one B from the time I started.”

She said it’s the problem-solving that keeps it interesting.

“It can be challenging and frustrating at times, but once you get in the swing of things, it becomes more familiar. Mr Lovell is an excellent teacher,” she said.

“He told me the difference between a mechanic and a technician is a mechanic can fix cars, while a technician diagnoses the problem.”

She works part-time for Gavin Black at local institution GB’s Auto on King Street.

“When I first started I would call everything a ‘thing’.

“As the time passed by I have learnt to say some of the names.”

Even if she suffixes the name with “thing”, she added, laughing.

She hopes to stay on at the garage to continue to build her confidence.

Her new skills could allow her to work alongside her husband Doddie Rogers, who sprays cars for a living.

Mrs Rogers said of the scholarship: “I’m elated to receive this.

“I’ve struggled with the maintenance of my education.

“I would tell anyone, ‘Don’t let your gender discourage you.

“If you have a passion for something in the trades, jump into it.’”

Echoing Ms Carbonette’s words, she added: “Whenever you phoned for an electrician, or plumber, it was always men that turned up.

“Now, it may be a woman.”

She intends to sit the Automotive Service Excellence exams in the near future.

Helping hand: Marvelyn Rogers receives her award from scholarship donor Brenda Carbonette