Monique, Army Reservist, Welding 1, 2 & 3 Graduate, WFW Welding Teaching Assistant

by | May 25, 2023 | News & Media, Student Stories

“As a woman going through Workshops for Warriors, it’s been great.”

Monique Rodriguez grew up in San Diego, CA with a tight-knit family. “We weren’t very financially blessed, to say it honestly. We struggled a lot. But that’s OK. I turned out fine,” she said.

In high school, Monique engaged in activities that allowed her to showcase her leadership skills and love of structure. She was a cheerleader and joined the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Training Corps (JRTC), with whom she served as the battalion commanding officer for a year.

Monique knew she wanted to join the military since she was a kid. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready to join right out of high school, so I waited a few years and joined the Army Reserves,” she said.

As a Combat Engineer with the Army Reserves, Monique builds and detonates explosives. When she first enlisted, her MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) had only recently opened to females. She wanted to be part of the new generation of women making their mark in traditionally male-dominated fields. “I wanted to be a combative MOS and be one of the newer generations of females to do it. Why not?” she said.

During that time, she also earned her associate degree in cardiopulmonary health, worked as a respiratory therapist, and even a pastry chef. “Then the pandemic hit. I got burnt out,” she said. “It was like having a lifetime of work in a year. I no longer wanted to do that.”

That’s when Monique sought out welding schools, found Workshops for Warriors, and enrolled in WFW’s Welding 1 program. “I loved that it was military-driven without being military,” she said.  Her decision to study welding aligned with her desire to challenge gender stereotypes. “There are stereotypical jobs that men do, but women aren’t in them. I’m going to be that woman. Anybody can do it. And I’m going to do it with a manicure, jewelry, space buns, and eyeliner,” she said.

Monique excelled in Welding 1 and decided to continue her education with WFW’s intermediate Welding 2 program. After graduating from Welding 2 at the end of 2022, Monique completed in WFW’s advanced Welding 3 program with the Summer 2023 cohort. By the end of her training at WFW, Monique gained a total of 45 nationally recognized credentials in welding.

Throughout her time with Workshops for Warriors, Monique formed strong bonds with her female classmates. “I hang out with them every day,” she said.

Because of Monique’s performance as a top student, WFW offered her a position as a welding Teaching Assistant, and she accepted.

Reflecting on her journey with Workshops for Warriors, Monique expresses deep gratitude for her instructors at Workshops for Warriors. “I genuinely enjoy how human they are. Sometimes they have to put teaching aside and get to know you on a personal level. For me, that human connection means more than anything.”

To women considering a similar path, whether active duty, veteran, or transitioning out of the military, Monique wholeheartedly encourages them to seize the opportunity to enroll at Workshops for Warriors. “As a woman at Workshops for Warriors, it’s been great. I never felt like I was less than one of the guys. I was right there with all of them.”

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