Leilani and Cheyenne are not your typical high school students. What sets them apart is that they both share a passion for trucking and see the vast opportunities that industry offers. The students attend Patterson High School, in Patterson, California. Leilani is a senior and is enrolled in one of the first high school trucking programs in the nation. Cheyenne is a junior who is enrolled in the school’s supply chain and logistics management class and will be enrolling in the trucking program next year when she is a senior.
The passion these young students have is definitely not the norm as reflected in the current representation of women who are commercial truck drivers—approximately just 6 percent of the commercial truck driver workforce is made up of females and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is up only 1.1 percent since 2008.
Having launched this unique high school program in 2017 as a way to proactively address the driver shortage, Dave Dein, CDL coordinator and instructor, is more than ecstatic to have Leilani, his first female truck driving student, enroll in the class this year.
“It takes great courage and grit to choose to be the first at anything,” he says. “I have utmost respect for Lelani to pursue a career in this male-dominated industry and I will do everything I can to support her.”
He is equally excited that Cheyenne is also looking at trucking as a career path because it will provide the financial stability, adventure, and challenge that she is looking for.
Dein sees the need to not only promote the vast opportunities trucking offers to females, but he also understands the importance of providing support for those who choose to enter into this industry.
“It is apparent that if we expect to see any significant change in the number of women entering into this industry, there has to be a consistent and an intentional course of action for them to have positive female role models they can connect with,” he says.
After Leilani enrolled this year, the first thing Dein did was to find out what resources are currently available to help support females in the trucking industry. He didn’t have to search long. The nonprofit Women in Trucking quickly stood out as a premier organization that is dedicated to providing support, resources, and networking opportunities.
One way Leilani and Cheyenne can experience this firsthand is to attend the Women in Trucking Accelerate! Conference, where the students will be able to meet women who have generated their own success in the trucking industry. They can attend seminars designed to empower women and enable them to take on the challenges that they will certainly have to face.
Dein so understands the importance of having Leilani and Cheyenne attend this conference that he created a GoFundMe page to help raise the necessary funds for them to attend.
“My personal goal is for both these young women to find success in the industry,” Dein says. “I hope they can come back and be the necessary and needed role models who will inspire a whole new generation of females to carve out their own road in this exciting industry.”