Each March during Women’s History Month, we reflect on the courage and strength of individuals who are succeeding and persevering. Penny is one of many women who—through hard work and determination—have taken the first steps into their ideal careers by attending the building maintenance training program at JEVS’ career training school, Orleans Technical College.

Penny previously received an undergraduate degree in physical therapy, but realized after her externship that the career was too mundane for her, as patients would always come in with the same issues. After moving to the patient services side of healthcare, she eventually became a senior secretary in the pathology department, but when COVID struck, she decided that was enough.

“COVID hit, and I decided I didn’t want to be here,” said Penny. “However, I didn’t want to go back for more school. We bought our first house in January 2020 and since it needed work, my interest in becoming a carpenter was piqued.”

Penny in the shop classroom at JEVS’ training school, Orleans Technical College.

Real estate investing has always intrigued Penny, so she officially became a realtor in 2021 and decided a trade would help provide a better understanding of the field. Torn between training courses for carpentry or building maintenance, she chose the latter and is thrilled because now she has learned a multitude of basic hands-on skills in the trades and can utilize that knowledge to start investing.

“I was extremely excited to learn that I was receiving a scholarship from Home Depot. I am grateful that a company like them is investing in the education of women in a male-dominant field. I am also thankful because attending Orleans Technical College was a leap of faith. I resigned from my job in healthcare to attend Orleans and go after my passion and a skill set that will ultimately help provide financial freedom to my family and me.”

Penny is one of 46 women who have graduated from Orleans Tech’s various trades training programs since 2017. As far as getting a job after graduating from her training program this month, she’s undecided on which direction to go. She enjoys electrical and carpentry, so she may explore those options further.

“I’ve been sharing my story and so many people are getting excited about the trades. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can change careers and do something different. I love the idea that I’m learning something that no one can take from me. I can have opportunities no matter what.”

Penny’s story is very inspirational, especially for undergrads who have a bachelor’s that they aren’t content with or can’t find jobs in their fields of study. She chose the trades because she found deep interest in it, not because it is a male dominated trade, but because it’s something she wanted to do. Penny is an example that gender and age shouldn’t determine your interest in what you want to do in life. Penny found her new passion in her trade, and we’re happy that we were able to “make (her) hope happen.”




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