Sharon Guerrero has studied welding only a year at the San Jacinto College North Campus, but she is already making a splash in the industry.
In November, Guerrero placed third in an underwater welding competition against other welders nationwide.
"I was so shocked to earn third place against so many other welders who have been at it for years," she said. "I'm really proud of myself for going for it and doing so well."
Guerrero, who is also known as "miss.welds," has a growing following on Instagram, where she showcases photos of her welding skills, art, and tools of the trade. The Ocean Corporation discovered her account and invited her to its first annual Women in Welding Conference.
"We invited 30 female welders from across the country to learn more about underwater welding and engage in some friendly competition," said Richard Johnston, Ocean Corporation instructor. "We wanted to raise awareness about the industry and clear up any misinformation about safety in commercial diving."
The Ocean Corporation has been training individuals for the commercial diving and non-destructive testing industries for more than 50 years.
Guerrero attended the conference with fellow students Itzayana Garcia and Iliana Perales and San Jac welding instructor Emily Choate.
"Welding underwater is incredibly different than surface welding," Choate said. "You can't see as well and have to trust your angles. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I truly enjoyed every part of it."
As a third-place winner, Guerrero received gifts from sponsors like Outlaw Leather, Rugged Charms, and the American Welding Society. The Ocean Corporation also inspected her welding piece, which passed, earning her an AWS D3.6 Underwater Welding certificate.
"I really enjoy learning new things," Guerrero said. "During the competition, I was confused on what to do. The water was cloudy, and all of the instructions left my brain. Thankfully, an Ocean Corporation student was there for guidance, and I succeeded."
Though she placed in the competition, Guerrero doesn't see a career as a commercial diver in her future.
"I want to work in the welding field to gain enough experience and one day come back to San Jac as an instructor," she said. "I enjoy explaining things and showing people how something's done. I want to empower other women to try it and mentor them. If I can do it, you can do it."
Learn more about San Jac's welding program at sanjac.edu/welding.