From Pom-Poms to a Welding Torch

Samantha Petrosino is breaking stereotypes and enjoying every minute of it.

Samantha Petrosino poses
“I am a hands-on person and I got to come to BOCES half a day and work and enjoy school,” said Samantha Petrosino.

She once had her sights set on graduating high school early.

Now, a 2017 graduate of Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE) welding program, she has her sights set on shattering stereotypes in the world of underwater welding.

Petrosino was a cheerleader at Middleburgh High School who didn’t care too much for traditional schooling while still achieving straight A’s.

As a junior, she learned about the welding program at CTE and decided to change plans from graduating early to spending her senior year learning about a trade that is traditionally male-dominated.

“It immediately interested me,” said Petrosino. “I am a hands-on person and I got to come to BOCES half a day and work and enjoy school, and then I went back to Middleburgh and learned what I needed to.”

After excelling in the program and earning scholarships and honors, Petrosino graduated in June 2017 and started working full-time in the industry at Lancaster Development and Tri-City Products, a position she held until October.

She left the Schoharie County firm in October to start in-depth studies at National University Polytechnic Institute in San Diego where she is pursuing a degree and certification in commercial diving/underwater welding.

“I was prepared, challenged and put to work right away,” said Petrosino of her time at Lancaster Development. “Capital Region BOCES prepared me well because it taught me how to be safe in a shop and how to be productive.”

Welding teacher Chris Panny said Petrosino was at the top of the class.

“She was one of my best students,” he said. “She was eager to learn and always prepared.”

While the welding industry is 94 percent male and largely consists of men near retirement age, according to the United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, Petrosino was warmly accepted at CTE and at Lancaster Development, said Nancy Liddle, CTE’s business liaison.

“I spoke to people in the company and she fit right it and went right to work. By all accounts, she did a great job,” Liddle said.