Firefighting fits in as one of those non-traditional careers. In addition to administrative personnel, the Metro Fire Department’s website lists four firefighters, a fire inspector and a public educator among the women on its roster of about 90 employees.
“Being able to use the machinery and tools they’ve trained me on is my biggest challenge, and one I’m constantly working to overcome,” Fluharty said. “I’m very grateful to Amanda Yancho, a woman firefighter with Metro and Glen Lake, who has mentored me and answered some of my questions about being a female working in a male environment.”
Fluharty said that since she’s under 18, there are limits to what she’s been permitted to do. She’s ridden along to accident scenes, medical calls and fires.
“She doesn’t get to do a whole lot at a regular fire. She’s never in the hot zone,” Doornbos said.
She hopes to continue working with Metro this summer in order to obtain her Firefighter I and II certification and her Michigan First Responder certificate before continuing on to Lake Superior State University’s Fire Science program.
She has threefold advice for other students who might consider a nontraditional career.
“Make sure it’s something you really want to do. Find a group of good mentors who you can ask anything, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” she said. “I’m so grateful to Metro for the experience. They’ve given me a life direction and are making sure I do it the right way.”