Breaking barriers: Becca Peters valedictorian of TRU School of Trades & Technology

By Tanya Cronin
June 7, 2018 - 4:37pm Updated: June 7, 2018 - 5:27pm

KAMLOOPS — It's traditionally been a male-dominated industry, but over the years more and more women are stepping into skilled trades. From carpentry, welding, plumbing, electrical and mechanics, there are several options for women exploring a trades career. It took Becca Peters a few years to gain the confidence to pursue her passion in heavy duty mechanics. She is the only woman in her program at the School of Trades and Technology at Thompson Rivers University, and represented her class as valedictorian at her convocation ceremony Thursday

It's work once thought only a man can do. But in the shop, Becca Peters is confident, powerful, and isn't letting any stereotypes get in the way of her true passion.

"It's mostly working on heavy equipment, so there's on-road like the trucks and trailers, and then there's off-road, so working on excavators and stuff like that," says Becca Peters, TRU Heavy Duty Mechanics Student.

Becca is the only woman in the Heavy Duty Mechanics Program at Thompson Rivers University, but the journey to get here hasn't been easy. Three years of studying business, Becca was well on her way to following family tradition, a tradition that she always knew wasn't for her.

"My mom knows me very well, and I think she could tell, I was sitting outside of a midterm one day and I just broke down and I was crying and I called her and said I can't do it, I can't do this anymore, and she said that's okay, I kind of had a feeling."

With the support of her parents, Becca caught wind of TRU's Women in Trades and Technology Program and signed up. Exploring six trades, Becca was heading towards carpentry, until her instructor encouraged her otherwise.

"She said she was really interested in carpentry, but I really challenged her in our group and she did really well and I said why not consider mechanics and in the fall the program started, and there she was in my class," says Lyle Hirowatari, TRU School of Trades & Technology Instructor.

"I was absolutely terrified, I was so scared because you hear horror stories about being a woman in trades, but I ended up being one of the guys, I was so accepted, so supported by everyone around me," says Peters.

While fear of being the only woman in a male-dominated field kept Becca from pursuing her dream in trades, she has finished her first year of studies. Thursday, adorned in cap and gown, she took to the stage, representing her class as valedictorian.

Becca Peters is looking to secure a local apprenticeship, and eventually earn her Red Seal certification as a heavy duty equipment technician. She's hoping to give other women the confidence, not to let the perception of the skilled trades, be a barrier.

"It sounds so cliche, but don't listen to what anyone thinks, just do what makes you happy and that took me a long time to figure out, but I did and now I'm here," says Peters. 

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