Student Spotlight: Taking a Leap to a New Career


By Amy Matthew, Pueblo Community College

Original story published on the Pueblo Community College website.

Nicole Espeland already had a career. It just wasn’t the right one for her.

An interest in welding offered the possibility of a different path, but Espeland wasn’t sure she had the courage to follow it.

“I was scared to start over and start something new that I had no knowledge in,” she said. “(And) I had concerns about being a woman in a male-dominated industry.”

According to the American Welding Society, only about 5 percent of professional welders in the U.S. are women but the number is increasing.

Ultimately, Espeland did what she now advises others to do: “Take the chance.” After enrolling at PCC Southwest, she’s now a certified structural welder and is studying pipe welding. She expects to graduate from the welding program in 2023 and continue to work toward an associate degree.

“Attending PCC has given me the start I needed,” said Espeland. “I enjoy the hands-on classes that tailor to the trades. In this day and age, trades are so important and with so much computerization, it is crucial to get hands-on experience. PCC offers great opportunities.”

As she progressed in the program, Espeland realized her initial lack of knowledge about welding – or any subject – shouldn’t be a reason to avoid learning about it because education doesn’t have an end point.

“I feel complete and know my purpose. Welding is the hardest thing I have ever done; however, it is the most rewarding,” she said. “Take the class you’re scared to take and take the class you’ve always wanted to take. If you want to change professions, do it. If you want to start college, this is the place to go.”

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