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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Sophomore Emerson Terrell Gains Independence through Heyward Career and Technology Center’s Building/Construction Program


Emerson Terrell

Construction is often seen as a male-dominated career, but that doesn’t steer women away from becoming interested in building or fixing things, even if it’s just for themselves.


Of the 61 students taking Heyward Career and Technology Center’s building/construction program this school year, three of them are girls, including Dreher High School sophomore Emerson Terrell.


As a child, Emerson loved building. She played with LEGO® sets and would build different things with her grandfather in his garage. Emerson joined the building/construction program at Heyward this school year because she thought it would be a great way to gain independence.


“I really like being able to rely on myself and not have to worry about other people fixing things. If something in my future home breaks, I can fix it myself. It’s really empowering,” she said.

Emerson is the only girl in her introductory building/construction classes. Despite this, she says the boys in her class accepted her.

“It can definitely feel scary being the only girl in the class and not knowing anyone when you first start. But, as the school year goes on, you’re going to get more comfortable with everyone,” she said. “I’ve gotten along with everyone really well and everyone is super nice and helpful.”

Her very first construction assignment was to build a birdhouse. She was very proud of how it turned out. Emerson has also worked with brick masonry, and she is building a grill.

Emerson Terrell 2

 “The grill is turning out really well. It’s even and straight. I love being able to learn how to do new things I’ve never done before,” she said. 

Emerson is still trying to figure out what she wants to do when she graduates from Dreher. She says the building/construction program has helped her become interested in other career and technical education (CTE) programs offered at Heyward.

“I know some people in the automotive program. I feel like it’d be a good thing to be able to look at my car, see if anything is wrong and fix it,” she said.

Even though she says she may not go into a construction-related career after graduation, Emerson still plans to continue to build things for herself.

She wants other female students in Richland One to know that they are welcome in the building/construction program.

“I would say to other girls that they should definitely consider the program because it’s better to be able to rely on yourself. Being able to do these tasks by yourself is a really great skill. We can do something just as good as the guys can,” Emerson said.

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. For more information about CTE programs in Richland One, go to or call (803) 735-3325.