Over the course of six years, Chattanooga State’s associate instructor of collision repair, Tim Chastain, has welcomed females into a predominantly male setting with no regrets whatsoever.
In fact, his female students competing in SkillsUSA for the past five years outnumber the males, 3--2. After winning a gold medal each during the statewide competition in March, Breanna Britton and Caitlin White are headed to the national SkillsUSA competition on June 25 in Kentucky to show judges just what they’re made of---and they plan to win.
Not really knowing what collision repair was, Britton thought she was signing up for an easy study hall when she entered her freshman year of high school in Milan, TN. On her first day of class, she was not listening to her instructor until he noticed her drawing on her hand and stopped to ask her if she liked to paint. Unsure what he meant, Britton followed him through the school’s body shop and into the paint booth while he explained its purpose. Before she knew it, he had placed a paint gun in her hand.
“At that point, I hadn’t yet realized that refinishing was what I wanted to do with my life,” Britton said.
Later into freshman year, after she had a little body work experience, she found out about SkillsUSA and asked her teacher about whom he was taking to the competition. When he replied that she wasn’t ready, she doubled down her efforts to focus on becoming ready.
That opportunity came during her junior year, but she let a friendship get in the way and chose not to compete. Her friend won first place at state instead, yet chose not to attend nationals. Britton realized her mistake.
“I decided that I was not going to allow anybody to get between me and these opportunities again,” she said determinedly.
During her senior year, Britton’s opportunity to compete finally came, and she won second place at the state SkillsUSA competition.