At Women Building Futures, we offer industry recognized training and affordable housing for women looking to enter the construction, maintenance and driving industries. We frequently see women who are looking for new opportunities in life. We want you to know that the trades are a place where women succeed every day. And it’s happening more and more. You’re not alone. You can gain the independence you’re looking for in your life right here. We can help.
You Got This
The Single Mom Who Conquered The Trades
“You’re not good enough,” was the common message Cora Lee was told while she was growing up. And, amidst dreaming of a brighter future, it was something she heard well into adulthood.
Now a single mother of two bright, beautiful daughters, and a successful pipefitter, Cora Lee sat down with Women Building Futures on a beautiful autumn day to talk about her journey from “not good enough” to the confident woman we’re fortunate enough to feature in our You Got This campaign.
Cora Lee’s story is one of self-made success. But it’s also one of bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles that, one by one, she overcame to find herself and her path forward.
I’m the kind of person who needs to continuously grow. I never knew about the trades—I heard people talking about them, but I never understood what they were. And nobody would ever tell me. So looking back, it was really difficult. At the time, there wasn’t as much exposure to opportunities. I just needed somebody to give me a chance.
She worked various jobs before she entered the trades, sometimes as security, sometimes as a flag person, and eventually as a labourer. And at that point, her hard work and determination could not be ignored. Someone saw the potential she had all along and offered her an apprenticeship.
Her path became clearer, but so did rising challenges that she had to face alone.
When Cora Lee started working towards her ticket, she was struggling day to day to get by. Where others may have backed down, she discovered her purpose.
When I became a pipefitter, it was the first time I ever had a sense of pride in my career. Because I worked hard for it. Because it’s something—it’s a real job. It’s a career.
She’s also found a sense of community with her coworkers, “I have met quite a few friends, three women in particular that I work with—they inspire me so much... I still have days when I’m scared, but they see something in me and that makes me want to fight even harder and be even stronger.”
And through it all, her sense of purpose revolves around raising her daughters right. “I feel like was born to raise these girls. My daughters are my gift.”
Best of all, her job allows her to dream about what’s next. In the future she sees herself buying a cabin somewhere. She also wants to take her girls on trips, “I want to show them the world.”
Today, she’s made a life for her and her girls. They’re in taekwondo, they’ve taken gymnastics, dance and swimming, and for Cora Lee, “it means so much to be able to do it by myself. This job gave me my independence and self worth.“
As we sit and chat, it’s hard to imagine Cora Lee as a person who felt she wasn’t good enough. But what inspires us is that nothing could stand in her way. She’s gone from struggling to make ends meet, feeling like she was less—to an inspiring, empowered woman who’s an incredible example for her daughters and so many other women we meet.
I went to school for this. I’ve worked really hard. I have a ticket. I have a red seal ticket, and no one can ever take that from me.
When you’re ready to start your journey and follow in Cora Lee’s footsteps, we’re ready to talk. No matter what, you are good enough - You got this.