HERStory | Tanya Spence

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY

My name is Tanya Spence and I am a first year Electrical Engineering Technology student at Mohawk College in Hamilton.  As the only female in my classes I can see the deficit of women in technology first hand, and I would love to see that change.  My goal after graduation is to not only start my career in the manufacturing industry, but to a make myself available to other women who may be interested in the field.  This could be as a mentor, a recruiter or even a speaker to high school aged females.  Women of all ages need to know that this field is an option for them that is both financially and personally rewarding!

I am what is considered a mature student.  I decided to go back to school after a successful career in the health industry.  My husband, a tradesman in the local steel industry, has seen a small but growing number of women trickle through the plant.  He worked with these women during their apprenticeships and placements and thought this would be an industry that I would thrive in.  I did some research, then some more, then a little more and after some late nights and long discussions we decided…let’s do it. I say we, because this choice to go back to school did not just affect me, but my husband and two young children would feel all the struggles of 4 years of full-time studies.  I know it won’t be easy, but I am lucky enough to have an amazing role model, my mother.  She went back to school in her mid-thirties and currently works in the manufacturing industry.  I was young while watching her study and struggle during this time but in the end, I see her thrive in a career she excels in.

My journey into a career in manufacturing started with the Pre-Technology program last year.  This helped me to finally decide on the program I am enrolled in.  I worked hard to make the Dean’s Honour List in both semesters.  I have also started to get involved in the college through volunteer work, attending the Mohawk Student Leadership Academy last spring and this year I became a Peer Mentor to first year Mohawk students.

Volunteer work is something that is very important to me and my family.  Aside from the volunteer work at school I also volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity and Beamsville Minor Baseball.  I love giving back to the community and especially with baseball being a strong female role model in a generally male dominated field.  There are not many things more satisfying than seeing young girls move up through the sport with confidence and strength.  If I am lucky enough to be a part of that growth, that makes all the hours spent at the diamond worth it

Goals? Yes, I have them, but to be honest I am just getting started on this career path.  If I have learned anything, it’s that you will never really know until you get out there and experience things.  That is why I insisted on taking a program with a co-op option.  I believe my strengths will be in automation and programing, but I look forward to testing things out to see where I fit.  I am lucky enough to live in such a diverse area for manufacturing, between Niagara and the Hamilton area I’m sure I will find my calling.

So how would this scholarship help me? More importantly, it would help my entire family.  This choice to go back was such a struggle because financially it changed everything for us.  We have gone down to one income, with essentially double the expenses.  This scholarship would allow us to worry a little less about money so that I can really focus on my studies.  The financial burden is tough but, in the end,,  we know it will all be worth it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for offering this scholarship opportunity.  Empowering women in technology and manufacturing is a passion of mine, so it is very encouraging to see a scholarship based on attracting women to such a highly rewarding industry.

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