HERstory | Valerie Yeo
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INDUSTRIAL MILLWRIGHT APPRENTICE
My name is Valerie Yeo and I am a welder, as well as currently enrolled in an Industrial Millwright Mechanic Apprenticeship Program. My goal is to be dual-traded with a red seal in welding and as a millwright by the age of 26. I have been working within the manufacturing sector for almost 5 years now and even after 5 years, I am still finding reasons to stay and grow, in order to see what my future has in store.
I started my manufacturing journey young. My father is a jack of all trades and I grew up working around or on jobsites with him. I did not have the opportunity to take a shop or automotive class in high school, however, I got to try my hand as a mechanic helping my dad restore classic cars and try basic carpentry with his local janitorial business. Looking back now, I regret not taking any shop/automotive classes during my high school career. At the end of high school, I enrolled in Police Foundations in order to pursue a career in law. I later declined my acceptances and took a year off to really try and find a career that I was passionate about. After reading through all the courses Fleming College had to offer, I applied and attended a Carpentry Skills program. This program provided a class in almost every trade so that we could develop basic skills in each. Besides carpentry, I took classes in electrical, plumbing, welding and HVAC. I enjoyed each trade but I quickly excelled in my welding class. My professors recommended that I further my studies in welding and I did just that.
After graduating from Fleming College and Canadian Welding Skills, I began my career as a welder. I have a strong drive to learn about what interests me and I always seek opportunities to better myself. This trait has given me several opportunities in the last few years.
I also believe that this trait was the motivating factor behind my registration in my current Millwright Apprenticeship. By learning a new trade, I have strengthened my previous skills and learned so many new skills that I never thought I would be able to do. My love for my trade has only grown and working with such a diversely skilled set of co-workers and employers has supplemented my progress. I have been blessed to have worked and learned in very open and encouraging environments. Sometimes, I feel the stereotypes that follow women around in the trades, but the ever-evolving career scape is one main reason I am drawn to my work. Every day is something different and I tell myself that the only limitation I will ever face is the one that I put upon myself. I have gained confidence just like I have gained skills and knowledge and I am never afraid to ask for help or speak up with a problem or uncertainty on a task at hand. Some of these skills I have learned have been welding an intricate pipe that later is x-ray inspected and passed first attempt. I have tested and passed for several all position ASME and CWB processes. I am proud to say I have welded and made pieces that have gone into some of Canada’s nuclear reactors. I have gotten to do field welding 30ft in the air in extreme weather conditions and have it be successful upon completion for quality and accuracy in the welds.
One day, I aspire to be a role model for other women in the trades and it is my hope to inspire other young females to try something new, become the Rosie Riveter of this generation with the ‘We can do it‘ attitude. As I said, a career in the trades is not one I thought about in high school because it was never presented as an option. While we did have an all-female automotive class at my high school, the shop and automotive classes were stereotyped as “male“, where all the young women were given pink coveralls. Presenting the trades as an appealing option and a career with endless potential is also something I am very passionate about. Therefore, the combination of my experiences, my passions and my expertise makes me eager to further my growth in my trades and I strongly hope that you consider me for this scholarship opportunity.
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