Each March during Women’s History Month, we reflect on the courage and strength of individuals who are succeeding and persevering. Like Shaniqua F., a Navy vet who is now working in a male-dominated job with Allan Myers, the largest civil construction and materials producer in the Mid-Atlantic region. She is one of many women who—through hard work and determination—have taken the first steps into their ideal careers by attending the building trades program at JEVS’ career training school, Orleans Technical College.

As a kid, Shaniqua was very artistic, but had a dream to operate heavy machinery. Without the knowledge and guidance as a youth, it never occurred to her that it would be possible. When she graduated from high school in 2008 and joined the Navy so she could go to college, it meant great educational security. Shaniqua was fearful of the heavy burden of student loan debt. After her service, she came home in 2013 and applied for jobs without real consideration of starting a new career. She didn’t even realize trade school was an option to help catapult that machinery career she once thought about as a little girl.

She first worked in security, then started working in the city’s library system. Shaniqua wanted more since there weren’t growth opportunities there given her experience. However, it was working in the library, walking by different books on the trades that opened her mind to the possibility of a new path. Shaniqua started doing some research and took an aptitude test for the trades. The field of plumbing came up as a recommendation, so she enrolled at Orleans Tech.

While there, Shaniqua was a stellar student and graduated from the plumbing and heating training program right as COVID-19 halted the school, the region and the country. She had just met with representatives from the Allan Myers company when they came to Orleans Tech for a hiring fair and expressed an interest in her. Eventually, she was able to do a socially distanced interview outside and was given the job in June 2020. She was hired on a PennDot trainee program and her background in the military and in the trades program are what got her this opportunity.

One year later, Shaniqua works on road construction and infrastructure and is excited about getting into heavy equipment. She plans to use her plumbing & heating experience in conjunction with heavy machinery to lay pipe in the future.

“The job found me. I’m really grateful for Orleans Tech’s career services department,” Shaniqua gratefully expressed.

Shaniqua’s story is not only inspirational to every young woman out there who believes they can do any job they desire, but gives great encouragement to other women who may be on a journey of self-discovery and in need of some enlightenment. Life is truly a journey, and Shaniqua found her passion by the walks of her everyday life.

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