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“I was definitely a Legos kid,” says Kira Hanvey, a manufacturing tech apprentice with Excelitas in Boulder. “And I loved watching my dad work on his motorcycles in the garage. I’ve always been a hands-on learner.”
Kira, now a high school junior, is taking advanced manufacturing courses through the St. Vrain School District’s Career Development Center where she is one of only a few females in her class. “At first, it was hard not to feel like the odd person out, but I just told myself that I need to work even harder to prove myself. I am determined to pave the way for more females in engineering. These careers shouldn’t be considered just for guys.”
Trailblazer that she is, Kira admits it helps to have a strong support network. “I am so grateful for my managers at Excelitas, who stay super positive even when things aren’t going exactly right,” she says. “And my teacher, Mr. Shupe, he gives his students 110%, makes us laugh, and is always there for us.”
“Careerwise apprenticeships benefit my students by providing them real, applicable, work-based learning that develops skills that I could never recreate in the classroom,” says Neil Shupe, Director of the Career Development Center. “Kira is a motivated, hardworking student so the apprenticeship puts an awesome student in an awesome career opportunity that could have been difficult for her to obtain on her own.”
Although Kira is only four months into her 3-year apprenticeship, she shares that she has learned the importance of time management and taking ownership of one’s mistakes. “When I started, it was hard for me to admit something I messed up,” she says. “But mistakes are okay, as long as we tell someone when it happens so it can be fixed. I understand so much more about personal responsibility now, that you can’t just hide or sweep it under the rug.”
Kira is excited for the many learning opportunities that await her, and credits this apprenticeship as the foundation for her future career in engineering. “I am glad I am in this program because I can be a role model and, more importantly, I can change people’s minds about what women are capable of.”