By Thara Babineau

November 6-10 is Nontraditional Students Week and the Coaches and Mentors at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs), have organized various events on campus that will focus on nontraditional occupations by gender. Current and prospective students will be encouraged to “consider the possibilities.”
“Nontraditional students are defined as those students who are not straight out of high school. So the majority of 4Cs students are nontraditional,” explains Stephanie Venancio, part- time Academic Career Advisor at 4Cs and one of the organizers behind the week-long event. “Because our campus is so nontraditional, we want to focus in on the nontraditional occupations by gender to get people out of their comfort zone and to consider the possibilities.”
During the week, students will have an opportunity to gain a new perspective, hearing from men and women who are working in fields that are dominated by the opposite gender. Venancio says that the events will educate and encourage students to look at programs of study that they may not necessarily consider right off the bat. One event is a panel discussion featuring professionals and students who are in non-traditional gender occupations and majors.
“We’re going ask them to tell their stories about why they pursued this career, how they
pursued it, what obstacles they faced, how they overcame them, so that other people become more confident and change people’s perceptions of traditional occupations,” said Venancio.

Nontrad week fire
Emily Higgins (in yellow) during a controlled training fire Photo Credit Emily Higgin 

Former fire science major, Emily Higgins, is a prime example of the type of person attendants can expect to hear from. She graduated from the Barnstable County Fire Academy in 2008 and pursued her EMT and Paramedic certifications thereafter, in order to meet firefighter employment qualifications.
“I had a cadet from my fire academy class tell me flat out that he didn’t think females should be allowed to be firefighters,” said Higgins. “Later in the course, I challenged him to a
45-second drill and won.”
Higgins took the ignorance of some and allowed it to fuel her fire in pursuit of this male-dominated career. She said this approach worked in her favor and that there were important
advantages to being the minority in firefighting.
“I am proof that women can do anything men can do and being able to show both men and women that proof is something I consider being an advantage,” said Higgins. “I especially want to be an example to younger girls that they can do whatever they want, regardless of what anyone says.”
Andrew Parent, a male nurse in the emergency department at Boston Medical center, can also speak to the advantages of working in a career dominated by the opposite gender.
“I am very proud of what I do and I love trying to get men into our field,” said Parent. “You have no idea how much we (male nurses) are appreciated.”
Nontraditional Students Week will offer students the chance to become inspired by more in-depth firsthand accounts of those who have explored and challenged traditional gender roles
in both school and work. Attend an event, expand your awareness, and consider the possibilities.

The outline of scheduled activities for Nontraditional Week Nov. 6-10:

• M-F 10:00-1:00 p.m. visit the M.M.Wilkens Library and peruse the bookshelf set up with
Non-Traditional Career Options.
• M-F 10:00-2:00 p.m. Stop by the Coaches & Mentors Table in the Cafeteria for information about Non-traditional Occupations.
• Tuesday Nov. 7 2:00 pm Lecture Hall B- Drop in Movie -“Hidden Figures”.  The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.
• Wednesday, Nov. 8 2:00-3:00 pm. Lecture Hall B- Nontraditional Occupation Panel Discussion featuring professionals and students who are in non-traditional gender occupations and  majors.