Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For Cheyenne Angevine, the Ulster BOCES Adult Career Education Center placed her on the path to become a journeyman electrician in a traditionally male dominated field. She’s recently become the first woman to be awarded a scholarship from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors Eastern Section.
During high school, Cheyenne kept good grades, but sitting in a classroom with traditional teaching methods didn’t appeal to the 2015 Onteora High School graduate.
“I personally prefer the hands-on experience because I have a hard time sitting still for prolonged periods of time,” she explains. “Working with my hands always helped me soak up the information like a sponge. It’s a shame that my school didn’t offer more shop-related classes.” It’s also unfortunate that Cheyenne was unaware of the array of programs that were available to her while in high school at the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center.
Cheyenne attributes her interest in pursuing a hands-on career to accompanying her father on a number of trade jobs, including electrical projects. Even though she wasn’t sure of what path she wanted to pursue, a year after she graduated from high school, she enrolled in the Ulster BOCES Adult Education Electrical Apprentice program.
Cheyenne thrived in the learning environment thanks to the mix of classroom instruction and hands-on shop work. “My instructors are enthusiastic about their work and eager to share their knowledge, which means a lot to me,” she says.
Cheyenne, who is apprenticing with Network Electric in Mount Tremper, says another perk of the program is learning with like-minded individuals. “I loved getting to know the students in my class. We all have common interests and hearing from them has helped me with my own work at times.”
Cheyenne says another plus of her apprenticeship is working alongside skilled electricians and contractors from other trades. The real-world experience has provided her with a keen sense of the knowledge and techniques necessary to be successful in the field. “I feel that it’s these teamwork skills that keep the business running smoothly,” she explains. She also appreciates her diverse work environment. “The one thing I love about my job is that every job is different, and I always enjoy the challenge of new opportunities at new locations.”
Being a woman in a male-dominated field hasn’t hindered the 21-year-old. In fact, she says it has helped her to become a more seasoned worker. “I don’t mind being one of the guys at times because it teaches me how tough you have to be in this line of work,” she explains. She concedes that there have been times when people have doubted her competency because of her gender, but Cheyenne doesn’t dwell on it. “I’m a hard worker who doesn’t mind getting my hands dirty and I have stifled those who thought I couldn’t carry out certain tasks,” notes Cheyenne.
Recently, Cheyenne received a $750 scholarship from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors Eastern Section, as well as a year-long membership in the organization. In fact, she is the first woman to have ever received this scholarship. Aside from being grateful for the financial aid, the connections she has made through the membership is, as Cheyenne puts it—spectacular.
“I have met some very respectable people…and learned more about the National Electrical code changes for the new year. It’s a blessing to know that there are so many people out there who are encouraging me to move forward in this career path.”
Cheyenne credits enrolling in the Electrical Apprenticeship program for giving her the foundation she needs to work on residential and commercial projects and eventually obtaining the certification she will need to become a journeyman and, maybe one day, becoming a business owner.
“After three years of being a student at Ulster BOCES, I can say that it has not only impacted my life for the better, but it has made a difference in my career. Without walking into that building, I might not have my current apprenticeship,” she maintains. “It was the staff, my instructors, and classmates who helped give me the background I needed to find a good job.”
And a good job it is, while Cheyenne says owning her own business is a possibility, she says, “For now, I am very happy working for my boss, Dave Smith.”
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