Michele Dolezel, Haywood Community College Computer-Integrated Machining student, loves to see the reaction of people when she tells them she’s a machinist. This single mom to two sons does not look the part. But growing up with a single mom she learned to do things herself. And this meant everything from car repairs to driving a tractor to fixing things around the house.

“When I first started the program at HCC, it took a while for the other students to take me seriously,” Dolezel says. “It didn’t take them long to figure out I knew what I was doing.”

In fact, with one year left to go to finish the degree, Dolezel already has a job in the field. She works at Smoky Mountain Machining in Asheville. Her shift consists of running machines, using tools to measure qualities such as depth and diameter, and checking parts through different stages of the process.

Dolezel is now known by her fellow classmates as someone they can count on when they need help. She also fills the role of encouraging them. “I try to tell these younger students that education is so important.”

What led Dolezel to HCC and the Computer-Integrated Machining program was the inability to find a job. So instead of taking a traditional female route, Dolezel knew she could succeed in what many think of as a man’s world.

In addition, Dolezel was a work study student at the Regional High Technology Center. “I knew being a work study would allow me to hear more about the program and learn more about it. I was able to ask more questions. I improved myself and the department by working in it.”

Dolezel says she enjoys cooking, being outside, working in the yard and tubing.

“Where I am right now in my life, I’m happy with it,” Dolezel adds.

HCC’s Computer-Integrated Machining program prepares students with the analytical, creative, and innovative skills to take a production idea from an initial concept through design, development, and production resulting in a finished product. Students attend classes at the college’s Regional High Technology Center where they receive hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and emerging technologies. Students work on complex projects that yield irreplaceable hands-on experience.

Registration for fall semester in underway now through July 24. For more information about HCC’s Computer-Integrated Machining program, please call 828-564-5117. For more information about registration, please call 627-4700.