Women Win With SkillCat
Updated: Jul 14
I finished SkillCat yesterday.
Four months ago, I was looking for online Vocational classes to offer my high-school-aged homeschool students.
When I stumbled upon SkillCat, I absolutely couldn't have known how huge an impact this school would have on my life. I decided to sign up and enrolled in the EPA Universal course.
Just to check it out. The moment I started the first module something awakened in me.. some primal, womanly force screaming
"YOU CAN DO THIS, WOMEN CAN DO ANYTHING". I was a sponge, absorbing every tiny drip of knowledge the modules handed me, I was soaring through the quizzes and before I knew it, it was time to take the proctored EPA 2021 exam. I was proud, elated, terrified and so, SO, nervous. I logged into the test meeting and was immediately reminded that this is a male-dominated field. Not only male-dominated, but that I had never actually seen a female HVAC tech, and even though I knew they existed, there were certainly none in this meeting let alone taking the holy grail Universal test.
Every question I answered felt like a giant hill to climb "Oh I got this", "No, maybe I don't" and so on until I finally got the nerve to hit "submit". Taking a deep breath I realized that what felt like hours, had only actually been a little over a half of one. "Huh," I thought, "Please let that be a testament to how much I know, and not to how much I don't". All I could imagine was me, the only woman in the meeting absolutely bombing it and having all the men laugh, and the proctor (also female) lose all faith in women in this HVAC trade.
When her voice came through my computer speakers saying "Ok Jennifer, Great job you passed" I almost thought I had heard incorrectly. Thoughts like, "I passed, Oh my goodness I PASSED" exploded in my soul and I felt this giant grin spreading from one of my cheeks to the other. That moment was the proudest I've ever been of myself. Since that day, when an extremely unsure woman achieved what she thought impossible, I've watched her do it over, and over again as if I'm watching this woman from outside my body achieve these great feats I only could have wished for last year.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's me doing it, that I'm not dreaming, that I'm crushing scores and passing tests and doing the physical work. I find myself gently correcting men who have been in this field for decades and watching their eyes light up when they realize their method has never really worked well because there is a better method, or being able to troubleshoot unit issues that no one else could diagnose.
I've FINISHED everything that this beautiful, encouraging, school has to offer, received an Advanced Diploma in Thermodynamics, and an Advanced Diploma in Natural Gas and Solar Energy from another school, started taking courses at MIT online in Mechanical Engineering, worked circles around arrogant men in my field who thought I wasn't good enough because I have pretty hair and a higher-pitched voice, and even found myself a pair of pink steel toes but STILL, the greatest thing I ever did was PUSH THAT DAMN "ENROLL" BUTTON the day I found SkillCat. THAT is where this all began, THAT is what made me believe in myself, THAT is where I learned my worth, THAT is the very moment when my life as a career woman, as someone who will someday be an Engineer, as an individual who is more than just a wife and mom was manifested.
Though I'm emotional about this journey coming to an end, I am HOPEFUL. Hopeful that this school will help more women, that it will help more young men enter this field where they can make enough money to support themselves and their families. Hopeful that men who have experience in the trade will enroll anyway and learn some things the easy way, the way they were not taught in their younger lives. Hopeful that I will remain so grateful for a school that gave me EVERYTHING I ever could have wanted.
Thank you SkillCat, the pleasure has, surely, been mine.