Women meet and empower one another in petrochemical

10.24.2016 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur

Recent Date with Destiny event by Shell brought women in industry together with college and high school students


A group of women took to the stage at the recent Date with Destiny conference to empower others seeking careers in petrochemical. For some in the audience, it was their first time to meet women operators.

“This is my first time to meet a woman working as an operator,” said Diana Benavides, a mother of three who will graduate from San Jacinto College in December with her associate degree in process technology. “When people ask me why I want to do this, it's because I can. When people ask me about the shift work, I tell them that it’s no different than working as a nurse. I know this is the career for me.”

Sponsored by Shell Oil Company, Date with Destiny gave high school juniors and seniors, current college students and recent college graduates opportunities to network, apply for petrochemical jobs, write résumés and pracice interviewing for industry jobs. Area community colleges attended and provided information about petrochemical-related training programs.

Benavides and others were given the chance to ask a panelist of women questions about their experiences working in the petrochemical industry at Shell facilities. Sara Kenerly served on that panel and shared her story about working as a process operator in a male-dominated field.

"Don't be afraid to do this job,” Kenerly told the audience. “A lot of women are actually better at being process operators. It is physical work, but I love being outside, and I feel great doing my job.”

Kenerly works for Shell and is a graduate of the San Jacinto College process technology program. San Jacinto College was recently ranked by Community College Week as second in the nation for science technologies/technicians graduates, a category that includes the college’s process technology program. Graduates are trained in a lab modeled after local plants and connected to hiring managers in the industry to ensure high job placement rates each year.

“It’s no secret that there is a shortage of women working in a variety of industries, and petrochemical is one of them,” said Dr. Sarah Janes, associate vice chancellor of Continuing and Professional Development at San Jacinto College. “With Shell’s help, we’re able to raise awareness of this and let more women know about the opportunities in petrochemical through events like Date with Destiny.”

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 finalist and an Achieving the Dream Leader College, approximately 30,000 students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers seven areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to a four-year college or university or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, call 281-998-6150 or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.