When we call an electrician to our homes, we normally expect to see a white male standing in our door. That visual is changing due to an African American female named Renee Johnson.
Johnson recently graduated from the Nashville Electrical National Joint Apprenticeship and Training committee (NEJATC) as Nashville’s first African American female electrician.
The proud graduate was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and she stated that as a child she enjoyed fixing things and working with her hands. “I also love math and I had an aunt who noticed my affectation towards math so she would give me various math problems to solve and that gift from my aunt enabled me to achieve my goal today,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted that she tried to enroll in the JATC program in Wisconsin, but was denied admission. Another aunt told her about the program here in Nashville and encouraged her to come here and apply for this program. “At first I was a little apprehensive about applying because of my experience in Wisconsin, but I eventually applied and was accepted,” she said. The rest is history.
There were seven white males and one black female in this year’s graduating class of the NEJATC program. When asked if she received any type of racial or sexual bias, Johnson stated that the guys she studied with treated her with the utmost respect. “I went to school with a great group of guys. Since my graduation though, a lot of people are surprised when they find out that I am an electrician, she said.”
“My graduation from the program hopefully will open up opportunities for other minority females in Nashville,” Johnson said. “It is a difficult program, but not impossible, as I have proven.”
Nathaniel Brown, State Director of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, said that there have been white women who have graduated from the program, but she is the first Black female to complete the training. “I am very proud to see her make it through as it is a very tough program, especially since she is a single mother of three children,” Brown stated. “She is very smart and has a great future ahead of her.”
For those interested in this program, go to their web site www.nejatc.org for further information. The starting salary upon graduation is $23-$25 an hour and the training is tuition free.