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Forging her own path

Leslie Alfaro Figueroa will become Blinn’s first female student to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology when she graduates later this month

Leslie Alfaro Figueroa will become Blinn’s first female student to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology when she graduates later this month

May 1, 2023

Leslie Alfaro Figueroa, 22, is forging her own path. From her days fabricating windows to her nights and weekends spent at the Blinn College District’s welding workshop, she knew she was destined for a career working with her hands.

“I used to work on an assembly line that was dominated by men, so that helped break down the obstacles for me and made me less intimidated to pursue welding,” she said. “My dad was a pipeliner and my brother knows how to weld as well, so that motivated me. I’m the first female in my family who’s going to be in a trade job and I’m really proud of that.”

Alfaro will also be the first female student to complete Blinn’s Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology when she completes the program later this month.

“I have had the opportunity to witness the commitment and talent of Ms. Alfaro and although challenges crossed her path, she overcame them with strength and endurance,” said Dean of Applied Technology, Workforce, and Economic Development Karla Flanagan. “I am so proud of her accomplishments, and it is my hope that her success sets a precedent for all prospective female welding students.”

With family in the Houston area, Alfaro originally came to Blinn to pursue her basics, but when she stumbled across the welding program on the College’s website, there was no looking back.

“When I first started, I would get frustrated, but the instructors helped me a lot and would push me,” she said. “When you’re putting in all that time, that’s when you know welding is what you really want to do.”

Blinn’s Welding Technology Program offers competency-based training for students pursuing college credit or participating in continuing education. The hands-on skills development curriculum includes entry-level to advanced training in a variety of welding processes such as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW), basic metallurgy, and inspection procedures based on industry welding codes.

College credit programs build upon each other and include Level I and Level II certificates and an AAS degree in Welding Technology. In the credit program, technique coursework is interwoven with blueprint reading, quality control and inspection, and hands-on experience provided through internships.

Alfaro is fine-tuning her welding skills at RVS Corp. in Bryan, a company that designs and manufactures pressure vessels for multiple industries, including refrigeration vessels. Upon graduation, her goal is to transition into a full-time position at the company, with dreams of one day owning her own welding shop.

“My plans are to weld for a few years and travel the world. I want to learn from other people who are at a higher level than me,” she said. “I have family in Mexico that have their own welding company and that has inspired me as well. I would love to be the first female in my family to own my own company someday.”

Another point of pride for Alfaro is being able to mentor other female welding students and learn from them in return. She hopes one day to pass on all the knowledge she gains throughout her career by teaching the next generation.

“Everybody starts from the bottom, so there’s no need to be intimidated. Just go for it,” she said. “When I’m further on in my career I’d like to be an instructor so I can teach young women and other students to go into the field.”

Blinn offers credit and non-credit welding courses at the A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center on the Blinn-Brenham Campus and at the Agriculture and Workforce Education Complex, a 38,000-square-foot facility, at Texas A&M-RELLIS in Bryan. Students in Blinn’s Welding Technology Program may be eligible for financial aid and Duddlesten Foundation scholarships.

With a bright future ahead of her, Alfaro is focused on graduation and celebrating all her hard work with her family.

“I’m looking forward to walking the stage to get my diploma,” she said. “My mom and brother are bragging about me to the whole family and my dad, even though he’s in Mexico, is always pushing me to be my best. I’m really proud of myself for coming a long way in so little time.”

To learn more about Blinn’s Welding Technology Program, visit or email

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