Paola Cosio Energizes Career with Morgan Community College Apprenticeship


When Paola Cosio considered her future, she figured she’d become a history teacher. But an electrician? “I had no interest going into the trades,” she said. “I just always thought that wasn’t for me.”

Thanks to an apprenticeship through Morgan Community College (MCC), Cosio found it is for her. She’s one of the only female students pursuing an associate of applied science degree in electromechanical technology and is determined to recruit more women into the trades.

“People are shocked to see me working,” said Cosio, whose family immigrated to Colorado from Mexico. “If you know how to do the job, it really doesn’t matter what anybody else has to say about it.”

‘Opened My Eyes’

Cosio had an inkling about technical work before she ended up at MCC. In high school, she joined the drama club and thrived in the team environment.

“That’s where I got my start working with my hands,” she reflected. “I worked as a props master, so that meant making everything from scratch and fixing things on the spot—just making the show work.”

Those skills inspired her to try the trades in earnest. After looking into more expensive college options, she decided to enroll in MCC and toured the automotive services and welding programs. Neither were her niche.

That’s when George O’Clair, electromechanical technology faculty, persuaded her to join his program.

“I really liked the way George described it to me,” Cosio said. “He was just very nice and welcoming and open. He did explain that it is a very male-dominated field, but he was enthusiastic to get young women to enter the workforce.”

Once the spring semester wrapped up, O’Clair encouraged Cosio to become an electrician apprentice with his company. Each day, the pair would talk about upcoming assignments, buy the materials together, and meet at the job site—typically at someone’s home or the local senior living center.

“We always assess things based on safety,” Cosio explained. “We make sure that the power is off before we start working and that we have our gloves and safety materials. Then, we get to work. If we can’t fix it, we try to troubleshoot and find the issue.”

This on-the-job training has been invaluable for Cosio. Learning from working professionals has helped her pick up new skills quickly, she said. As part of her apprenticeship, she also earns a stipend that goes toward her college expenses.

“Having someone teach you one-on-one is very different than in a classroom setting. It was a lot more engaging for me,” she said. “I felt a lot more confident in what I was doing, and it opened my eyes to what it’s like to be out in the field.”


It’s all a matter of seeing how much you can accomplish—not what other people think you can.
Paola Cosio, Morgan Community College Student


More to Accomplish

With a year of school under her belt, Cosio expects to graduate next May and hopes to apprentice with O’Clair again next summer. She’s already talked to a few local businesses about potential employment opportunities, too.

Given the movement to electrify more homes and businesses, Cosio says it’s an exciting time to become an electrician—especially for women who are itching to get out of the classroom. She hopes her story inspires other girls to explore technical education.

“I would encourage women to go out and just try a trade. It doesn’t need to be a lifelong commitment, but being able to do something with your hands is important,” she said. “It’s all a matter of seeing how much you can accomplish—not what other people think you can.”

More Stories