A Career in Plumbing: Starr's Story
My name is Starr Delgado. I am the HPI Plumbing instructor at Grafton Job Corps in North Grafton, Massachusetts.
If you had told me 19 years ago that I would be instructing students on how to do a skill I picked up along the way, I would have called you crazy. The proof is in the pudding. You don't have to be a master plumber to make money in the plumbing field. The skills students develop here help them go into the field and make a good career for themselves.
The Journey to Success
Growing up, I viewed plumbers as people who made good money. I used to take trips to Hampton Beach with my family, and an older family member would say, "Look at all the houses up there. That's where all the plumbers live." That stuck with me, and I knew if I didn't get my life together, I wouldn't live as well off as plumbers.
I came to Job Corps in 1998 and originally wanted to be a CNA, but I got terminated from the program. I didn't want to follow any rules or instructions and found myself somewhere no one thought they would ever end up.
I thank God for the people who pushed me to do the right thing. I returned to Job Corps, completed my high school diploma, and found myself with the HBI instructor. He took me under his wings, brought me down to this shop, and I took off with it.
After being an apprentice for five years, I came back to work for HBI here at the center as an instructor. It's given me a lifestyle so I can own my own home and not rely on rentals. I also have savings and even my son, who is eight, has savings. When he graduates high school that savings will help him buy a car. These are things that were not set in place for me, but they will be for my kids and my grandkids.
A Career that Inspires
My home consists of my husband, son, and my stepdaughter with her two children. After work, we usually play around in the yard with my husband grilling out 9 times out of 10. Plumbing allows me to enjoy a lot of free time with my family.
The most rewarding thing for me is the students. You get to give back. Somebody's going to have my story. Someone will say, "I had this instructor, and her name was Ms. Delgado. She never gave up on me." The hardest of the hardest kids come up through these doors and they turn out to be something amazing. I think I'm something amazing.
There are always going to be challenges for women in the field. People are always going to say you can't or you shouldn't or you don't. But if you say, "I'm going to, I can, and I will," and stay focused, you can do it. You may have to have some thick skin, but plumbing is an amazing career. I didn't think so when I was a kid, but I love it now. And if my son wants to be a plumber, that's okay with me.
My name is Starr Delgado, and I'm a plumber.
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