Richmond Community College
Up and Coming is our new column dedicated to highlighting the successes of young women in the power systems industry, be it students or young professionals.
My name is Trinity Stanley and I am a woman in power systems!
It all started when I was in high school and had no idea of what I wanted to do with my career path. I grew up in the small town of Hamlet, N.C., where we have a community college (Richmond Community College) that offers many different gateways for various careers. I knew I wanted to do something different and challenging that would lead to a career that would always be reliable. So, that brought me to the program I chose, electric utility and substation relaying technology, which is referred to as EUSRT for short.
EUSRT is a two-year program that is 50 percent theory and 50 percent hands-on, with an employment placement after graduation of 99.99 percent! So, it was a no-brainer after visiting the college and seeing the facility, as well as meeting the instructors. Classes were maxed out at 12-20 students, which made for excellent learning, and seeing their mock substation intrigued me like a kid in a candy store.
Moving along, I enrolled while I was also in high school where I had to sacrifice my time with friends, family and sports, but I would not have changed that for anything! While I attended the classes at Richmond Community College, there were only three girls, including myself, in a graduating class of around 35.
There were some pros and cons of being one of the few girls in the program. One pro being you gain a level of respect of the people around you. The other men in the program tended to respect us more because we were able to do what they were doing (and usually better). Another pro being employers wanted diversity, which made job searching even easier for us women students.
Upon graduating, I went to work for a contracting company, American Electrical Testing, out of Boston, Mass. I was hired as an assistant field service engineer with AET where I tested transformers, breakers, switchgear, relays, cables, CT’s, etc. At the time, I was the second woman in the field who worked at the company, which had over 200 employees. This opened my eyes to so much more than I already knew! I learned very quickly that there is always something to be learned in this industry, and this is what will make it both challenging and exciting.
I learned very quickly that there is always something to be learned in this industry, and this is what will make it both challenging and exciting.
I traveled the New England states and met many different people. Out of the 1.5 years of working with AET, I only got to work with or see two other women doing my same job. The pros with being a woman at work in this field were similar to being a student in the program. As a woman, I gained tons of respect from the men working around me. As you could imagine, this brought lots of attention to me being the only woman walking around a substation, lots of double takes and lots of questions about how and what made me decide to pursue this line of work.
However, I noticed not everyone in the field respected my being there. There were a few who looked down on me for being in this line of work for various reasons. “This isn’t a woman’s job”, they would say, along with the condescending question of, “Do you actually know what you’re doing?” And there was also rare harassment from men who could not believe their eyes that I was doing the same exact thing they had been doing for years.
It was very rare to have these types of encounters, but it did happen, which plays with your mind a bit. However, I have come to find that the women in this field, including myself, are tough women with thick skin. We aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty, we aren’t afraid to stand our ground and we are determined to uphold the same amount of work anyone else can do. Every single woman I have met in the field has been a rare breed and a successful one at that!
I have come to find that the women in this field, including myself, are tough women with thick skin. We aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty, we aren’t afraid to stand our ground and we are determined to uphold the same amount of work anyone else can do.
Because of COVID, lots of contracting companies went under because they were not able to start new projects. Therefore, this meant lots of employees were to be furloughed, including myself. After some time, I was privileged enough to work in Virginia with American Electrical Power for about three months until once again, COVID sent us home. However, this time was different. One of my former instructors, Brian Terry, called me knowing I had been sitting at home due to being furloughed. He asked me if I wanted to fill in for an instructor who had left in the middle of the semester. My answer was yes!
I filled in for the instructor for the last month and a half of the semester, and absolutely fell in love with the instructing side of this industry. I applied for the full-time position at Richmond Community College, and was hired. I am currently an electric utility and substation relaying technology college instructor at the age of 22!
There are a few challenges being an instructor as a female in this industry, and also with being such a young age of 22. Being a college instructor means you teach all ages from 16 to well over 60 years of age. As you can imagine, being told something by someone younger than you does not always resonate well with some people. This has always been a challenge and still is for some students.
However, being the first EUSRT woman instructor and youngest college instructor at Richmond CC has tons of pros! Once again, the respect that is upheld by so many. My dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed. Being the only woman in the office filled with men was not daunting at first because it was something I was used to since I started my career. When other companies visit or talk to us, there once again is a shock and praise given to me for being a woman instructor in this industry, which is very slim!
As I wrap this up, I’ll say the common denominator of being a female in this industry is making sure I continue to prove myself and prove that as a woman in this field, I can do it and I will always continue to learn. I look up to every female in this field of work for their bravery, hard work, dedication and willingness to learn what is seen as a “man’s job.”
I encourage any woman wanting to choose this line of work so heavily for all the pros I have listed in this article, along with the simple fact that women naturally pay more attention to detail. I hope the young women reading my article are inspired to not only pursue the electric/utility industry but also strive in it!
With that being said, never let the nomenclature of something being a “man’s job” stop or prevent you from pursuing what you want to do.