Yana Woods spent a year waiting for her shot at the Bev LaPointe Memorial Scholarship for Women in Trades.
Woods graduated in June from Mount Sentinel Secondary, and she’d already known for several years that she wanted a career in welding. Applying for and winning the scholarship, she said Thursday, was always going to happen.
“I’ve just been manifesting it in my head, making it come true,” she said.
Woods is the fifth recipient of the $2,000 scholarship from Kootenay Career Development Services (KCDS). She and her mother Holly credited Mount Sentinel teacher Doug Shaw for encouraging her passion for metalworking, which helped Woods decide on a career path.
“I was like, hey, this is it and it just feels right,” said Woods, who in the fall will attend Selkirk College’s welding program at the Silver King Campus in Nelson. “So I’m gonna follow where I’m guided.”
The trades are in Woods’ blood. The 17-year-old Appledale native’s grandfather was a welder, electrician and carpenter. Her father is a power-line technician, her mother is a truck driver and an older brother is an electrician.
“She never played with dolls,” said Holly. “It was always LEGO and blocks, and so it’s something in her DNA that was guiding her in that direction.”
The annual award is named after Bev LaPointe, who was a founding KCDS board chair, a CUPE Local 339 president and a long-time employee of the City of Nelson’s parks and public works departments.
LaPointe is best known for the complaint she filed with the B.C. Human Rights Commission in the 1990s that led to a ban on pornography in the workplace. She retired in 2012 and passed away in 2014.
KCDS executive director Jocelyn Carver said Woods’ articulate application and excitement for a career in trades helped her stand out among the scholarship’s candidates.
“She’s spoke so eloquently to her passion for the work and also to her belief that there is no ceiling for women in the trades, that with dedication and passion and hard work anybody can achieve their goals,” said Carver.
“It’s clearly something she really believes and has actually lived from her own experience.”
The scholarship was first handed out in 2016 in a collaboration between KCDS and LaPointe’s partner Loreli Dawson.
Carver said choosing a winner continues to be a difficult decision, especially as the award grows in popularity.
“Honestly it is actually just as challenging whether we have a small number of applicants or in years when we’ve had lots,” said Carver, “because women who are entering into the trades and have taken the time to look for sources of funding for themselves to forward their career, they all deserve the scholarship in one degree or another.
“So it’s actually an honourable, but painful, process to choose one recipient and every year we wish we had more to give more.”
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