Skilled to Work: North Alabama student wins new scholarship for construction education

Kiera Thrasher works in the building construction workshop at Wallace State Community College. She was one of two students chosen to receive the new Go Build Kickstart Career Scholarship.
Kiera Thrasher works in the building construction workshop at Wallace State Community College. She was one of two students chosen to receive the new Go Build Kickstart Career Scholarship.

Kiera Thrasher was one of two students chosen for the $10,000 scholarship.

Posted: Sep 26, 2019 11:05 PM

While statistics may mean nothing to the individual, it was the stats around construction workers that helped pique the interest of Kiera Thrasher.

"A lot of people who are really good at those jobs are either retiring or passing away. So there’s a lot of open positions in just technical jobs and trade jobs,” said Thrasher.

Thrasher first came to Wallace State Community College about last year in the automotive program to learn how to use tools. However, that didn’t last.

"At a certain point, it stopped fitting some of the things I wanted to learn how to do just for myself,” said Thrasher.

So she switched to the relatively new building construction program. During the first day of class, something unexpected happened.

"I was sitting at this table just going through school emails in the morning and I was like, what is this? This isn’t something I usually get in my inbox. And so I read through it and it said, congratulations. So it was just really, really exciting,” said Thrasher.

The congratulations came from being chosen as one of the first two students in the state to win a $10,000 scholarship from the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute.

The Go Build Career Kickstart Scholarship was launched this summer to encourage young people into the construction trades.

Thrasher’s teacher, Lynn White, said with her eye for creativity and detail, he’s not surprised that she was chosen.

"If you look at some of our modern buildings and some modern technology, some very creative individuals did that and Kiera’s going to be one of those. She’s going to be one of those that this has been a childhood dream for her and we want to foster that and help her to continue to grow from this program,” said White.

Another unique part of this scholarship is that it will always be awarded to one male and one female student.

"They work just as hard. And they are just as motivated to see a project through as are my male students. And so I’m excited that this would again turn a spotlight on more females in the crafts and in the trades,” said White.

Go Build Alabama said increasing the number of women in the construction trades is important because right now, they only make up 10.4 percent of that part of the workforce.

“I think that women would really enjoy these jobs if they got into them, but maybe (they) just don’t consider them outright because they are traditionally a male-saturated field,” said Thrasher.

Thrasher said once she’s done at Wallace State, she hopes to use her experience to not only work in the traditional construction world, but also to follow her dream of designing props for movies.

"Absolutely, I am a big fan of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I've watched all of the behind the scenes, like the Weta Workshop making swords and armor and different props. I love it and I've always wanted to do things like that,” said Thrasher.

The Go Build Alabama campaign also offers monthly scholarships of $1,000 to high school students. This month’s winner was Morgan McCann, a junior at Huntsville High School. To find out more about Go Build Alabama, click here.

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