For many of us, the closest we got to being fans of the heavy-metal band Metallica was when we heard their song “Enter Sandman” play during a Major League Baseball game when New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took the mound to finish off an opponent. As a fan of the Boston Red Sox, I begrudgingly respected but never looked forward to Rivera’s dominance. Similarly, I was never fond of Metallica’s brand of music. Until recently.
In December, Metallica’s charitable foundation, All Within My Hands, donated $100,000 in what it described as “a major workforce education initiative that provides direct support to community colleges to enhance their career and technical education programs. These programs provide skills and services to students who are looking to enter a tradtional trade or other applied learning program.” The $100,000 will be divided among 10 schools, including Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, WI. According to reporting from Kenosha News, the school will use the money to cover 90 percent of the tuition for approximately 30 students in its telecommunications cabling certification program. It’s a 12-week, boot-camp-style training program, according to Kenosha News.
On the same day I learned about the All Within My Hands initiative, I had a conversation with Ashley Smith, a graduate of Ozarks Technical Community College’s computer networking program and now an IT staff member as well as an instructor at the school. Ashley, a BICSI-certified Installer, competed in last year’s Cabling Skills Challenge through a sponsorship from Women in BICSI. She told me that of the three telecom-cabling courses she has taught at Ozarks, one class had no women students and the other two each had a lone woman student.
The charitable acts of All Within My Hands and the ongoing efforts of Women in BICSI both are worthy of applause and support. Initiatives like these help to ensure our industry has an incoming generation of skilled workers, and that women are encouraged to enter this field because professional opportunities are available to all who are qualified.
Once I learned of Metallica’s generosity, I listened to the song that is their foundation’s namesake. It’s the kind of dark, brooding lyric that reminded me why I’d never cared for their music. But their direct support for tomorrow’s workforce has changed that. I’m now a Metallica fan. Sad but true.