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Staff & Student Highlights

woman in construction
Seeing Yourself in a Role
According to Digital Builder, a construction blog; "... people tend to seek career paths that they can relate to–in other words, they look at the people in these fields and see if they see themselves in those roles. If women only see men in the trades, they’ll assume it’s not a career for them." It is important for women to see other women in the roles where they can picture themselves and see that she truly can do the job. 
March is a celebration of Women, including Women in Trades.
Read about our March 2021 ETA highlighted colleagues in the Trades below. 
Alison Brownell
HVAC Instructor 
Larissa Consolagio
Chef Celeste David
Culinary Instructor
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Becky Derway
CDL Instructor (Class A, B & in-the-cab)

Morgan Ogden

Brittany Thivierge

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Alison HVAC instructorAlison Brownell
HVAC Instructor
Alison ran machines for 10 years in a medical plant and then a paper mill where she enjoyed running machines and using tools, making her mechanically inclined. Six years ago she joined the HVAC/R program with WSWHE BOCES as a substitute. “It was so interesting and the content was all things I dealt with being a homeowner. I decided that I was in the right place and started taking college classes to become a teaching assistant, and received my refrigeration license.” said Alison. She has since become a full fledged instructor. Alison loves that there is something new in this field all the time and that accepting this new technology and learning new things will keep you on your toes.
When asked why you chose this field of work, Alison said, “I really didn't choose this field of study, it chose me. This field gives you freedom. Freedom from paying others to fix all of your own home problems. It empowers you with knowledge so you don't have to trust others to make home decisions for you. I'm that girl that doesn't just go and buy new curtains when she remodels, I move sinks, showers, toilets, and bathtubs. Once you learn to use tools you can make anything you dream possible.”

When asked what advice she’d give to women interested in the trades, Alison said, “Nothing feels better than the knowledge you have when you know a trade. I wish I had the time to do more than one. Embrace the trade you love, it will pay off.” She continued by saying, “Don't let people discourage you from doing something you love and feel passionate about. It's awesome to help show other women how unique and talented they can be.”
Woman HVAC workerLarissa Consolagio
Former HVAC Student
Larissa is currently an Account Manager at F. W. Webb Company, one of the largest wholesale distributors in the Northeast with a core business of Plumbing, Heating, HVAC and Refrigeration and PVF. Previously she was an account manager at Casella Waste.

She originally started in this field of work with no knowledge of plumbing, heating and refrigeration other than “identifying the difference between my water heater and furnace” as she jokes. When asked why she chose this field, Larissa said “I was looking for an opportunity to continue learning. I enjoy the ever changing and evolving industry and there is always something to learn and even better, someone to help - which I think is what I love most about our industry… people need you.” She said she has experts all around her to get her customers the right information and materials.”

Larissa said she chose to attend the ETA HVAC classes after work, “to give me the best hands on education. This has given me the understanding I need to help customers in the field and in our store. I love engaging with people, supporting them and giving them quality service.”

When asked about advice she’d give to women interested in the trades, Larissa stated, “If you are interested in the trades, Go After It. There aren’t enough women in this field. The few I do know are well rounded, have a great reputation and are driven women. You don’t have to be installing or repairing either. I work in sales but when I can get my hands dirty I do.” She continued by saying, “I don’t believe in barriers to women and you shouldn’t either… I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 9 years now, drumming for 6 and recently I have been taking guitar lessons. All of these activities, and my career bring me joy and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
Chef Celeste Women in Trades
Chef Celeste David
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Instructor
Chef Celeste David is a Culinary Arts and Hospitality Instructor at the F. Donald Myers Education Center, in Saratoga Springs with the WSWHE BOCES.
Chef Celeste David’s passion for food began as a child. She is a granddaughter of Executive Chef Arthur G Kelly, who retired from the The Court of Two Sisters located on Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Chef Celeste knew her calling was cooking and after changing her degree focus from business to culinary, she earned a degree in Culinary Arts from Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Louisiana.
While in culinary school, she apprenticed at local well known seafood restaurant Charley G’s. She then pursued hospitality experience at the Riverside Hilton Hotels and The Ritz Carlton receiving valuable training in all kitchens and purchasing. In addition to her studies and full time employment, she also competed on the school culinary competition team.
Her travels included leading culinary kitchens at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital, Whole Foods, California Pizza Kitchen and The College of William and Mary.
When asked what advice she’d give to women in trades, Chef Celeste said, “Some days are harder than others but don’t give up. Stay confident and learn as much as possible to master your trade or skill and when you're ready and see opportunity for growth don’t be afraid to take that step. Have courage in yourself and mentor others when the time comes.”

Now, this distinguished Chef is here in upstate New York where she feels she can make a contribution by using her vast experience to inspire and instruct the next generation.
Women in trades, CDL instructorBecky Derway
CDL Instructor (Class A, B & in-the-cab)

Meet Becky, one of our CDL Instructors (Class A, B & in-the-cab). She jokes that she was “born” into this industry since her dad showed up at the hospital that day with a cattle trailer. She’s been around transportation for as long as she can remember. That’s what makes her such a great instructor and business owner.

Becky was an owner-operator (owned the truck) for 9 years. She and her husband drove cross-country with their 2 dogs for almost 4 of those years. They then started working and driving in the Northeast. As her full time driving career came to a close in 2008, she went to work at a local flatbed carrier in the office. She was a dispatcher, took care of safety and was a manager. In 2016 she decided to open her own safety and compliance company directed towards single owner-operators and small fleets (less than 15 trucks). Around a year later she became a part-time CDL instructor with us at ETA/WSWHE BOCES teaching both in-cab and classroom. She is also currently the Eastern Regional secretary for the Trucking Association of New York.

Becky said she decided to get into this field of work because, “Transportation is in my blood. It is an industry I am passionate about. I try to find ways to give back, including working with TANY and working at WSWHE BOCES, offering a guiding hand to the next generation of truck drivers.”

When asked what she loves about this field, she said it’s “The camaraderie. Trucking is by nature an individualized job, but when you stop somewhere, you meet people with similar interests. You have the freedom to be yourself, see the country and be by yourself, you are not stuck in a cubicle every day.”

Her advice to women interested in the trades is, “Go for it! It is a lifestyle that allows you to explore this vast, amazing country we live in.”
Woman WelderMorgan Ogden
Former Welding Program Student

Meet Morgan. She completed all three welding levels with ETA and passed her AWS exam! 


Morgan’s interest in welding began when she took an oxy acetylene class at York Technical College in high school. Initially, she was interested in underwater welding when she signed up for this class and became even more interested after.

Morgan grew up in Fort Mill, SC and graduated from SC Whitmore School. Recently, she moved to Queensbury to be closer to family.

When asked about the welding field, Morgan said, “I really love this field because I enjoy working with my hands and creating something from a piece of metal.” She continued by saying, “I want to learn as many trades as I can so that I can do things myself instead of relying on another person or company to do what I need. And, I do not want to work behind a desk for the rest of my life.”

Morgan said that if she continues to learn different trades, she’ll be able to fix anything that needs it... from welding to HVAC to auto.

“One thing I want to tell women in trades is that it does take a lot of hard work to earn the same respect as men in this field, but it is definitely worth it. You may be the only woman in your workplace but with a lot of effort and hard work you can easily surpass all of the men in your field.”
CDL student BrittanyBrittany Thivierge
Former CDL Program Student
Meet Brittany, who completed our Commercial Driver’s License program and is currently a gas mechanic with National Grid.

Brittany grew up in Schuylerville. She earned her associate’s degree in criminal justice from Herkimer CCC and a bachelor's degree in environmental studies (minor in sociology) from SUNY Potsdam. After working as a NYS corrections officer for almost 5 years, a friend suggested she apply for a gas mechanic position at National Grid.

Brittany said, “After looking into the position, I realized it would be a great fit and I took the CDL course through WSWHE BOCES to get my Class A license and meet the job requirements.” She really enjoys the job and that she’s able to learn new things about heavy equipment and new tools. Recently, she went to training to learn how to use a backhoe, skid steer, and mini excavator as well. “The best part about the job is the satisfaction at the end of the day - I get to accomplish a goal with my crew.”

She supports women in the trades and said, “I can still remember the feeling I had when a supervisor asked who had their Class A license in a room full of new gas mechanics. I was the only female in that room - I felt such pride and accomplishment raising my hand when some men in the room could not.”

When asked what advice she would give women looking into the trades, Brittany said that, “Many people stress going to college, but I wish I had gone to WSWHE BOCES in high school for heavy equipment and welding. Trade schools provide the hands on experience that we sometimes can’t obtain in a college setting.”