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International Women's Day spotlight - thriving in Information Technology

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NWTC security analyst, Molly Vollrath, works on IT equipment.
NWTC security analyst, Molly Vollrath, works on IT equipment.

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, cultural, economic, and political achievements of women. It is also a day to raise awareness about gender inequalities that continue to exist.    

The origins of International Women's Day can be traced back to the suffrage movement in the early 20th century when women in North America and Europe were organizing for their rights. The Day was recognized for the first time by the United Nations (UN) in 1975. This year the UN is celebrating with the theme of DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, challenging public and private organizations to create a safer, more equitable, and inclusive digital world.    

At the College, women are leading the way in Industry 4.0 Education and Training. Two of our very own Information and Instructional Technology (IIT) Technicians, Devin Fails and Katie Kozak, are showing our students and community that women not only belong in technology careers but can thrive in the industry.    

Conditioning yourself for success    

Devin Fails graduated from NWTC in December 2018 with an IT Technology Support Specialist associate degree. Now, she is back at the College full-time as NWTC’s Industry 4.0 Technician, working with new and emerging technologies like augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things.    

“My motto as a student was ‘whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right,’” said Fails. “I wanted to condition myself to succeed, and I knew I could accomplish my goals - even if they were challenging.”    

When asked how she got into emerging technologies and STEM, Fails recalled advice she received from one of her instructors at NWTC.    

“You need to take a chance on yourself and put yourself out there,” said Fails. “Even if a job description does not perfectly align with every single one of your experiences, you should still apply if you want the job.”    

Fails followed her passion for technology and education back to NWTC, where she continued to grow as an IT professional. She just completed a network certification and is working towards an advanced security certification. Her story demonstrates the value of investing in yourself through professional development and continuous learning to achieve your goals.    

Solving problems to help others    

Katie Kozak started her career in news broadcasting and has always considered herself a “jack of all trades.” In the news, her official title was producer, but she often filled in roles related to engineering, lighting, troubleshooting, videography, and everything in-between. Given her action-packed background, it is unsurprising that Kozak is not one sit still. She values the opportunities her role as an Instructional Technology Specialist provides to get out from behind her desk and work with faculty, students, and staff to troubleshoot technology issues and support campus events.    

“I love to solve problems,” said Kozak. “In IIT, every day I get to help find solutions to technical problems and improve the learning experiences of our students.”    

When asked about her favorite part of the job, Kozak struggled to name just one thing.    

“I get to ‘play’ with power tools,” joked Kozak. “But honestly, I enjoy getting hands-on and working with equipment, interacting with faculty and students, and finding ways to that help make user experiences better.”    

Another way that we as a campus community can advance equality for women in non-traditional occupations is by engaging with the DEI Professional Development opportunities to gain tools and knowledge to disrupt microaggressions within our classrooms and the workplace. As we model equity and belonging for our students, colleagues, and community partners we are helping to meet the goals of International Women’s Day and make lasting contributions to the cause for equality. 


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