Growing up, Kati Lascola, 18, a 2023 graduate of Alan B. Shepard High School, said she liked problem solving and working with her hands.
Kati Lascola, 18, is pursuing a career in elevator maintenance after graduating in May from Alan B. Shepard High School. (Kati Lascola)
While her parents encouraged her to become a doctor or a lawyer, Lascola said she doesn’t want the debt that comes with higher education or the potential anxiety of getting a degree but not being able to get a job in that field.
Lascola said her dad told her to consider elevator maintenance, because few women pursue that as a career and it is a high paying job. After learning more about the trade field in high school, Lascola said it solidified it was a career path she wanted to take.
“I was always trying to think about what did interest me. I’ve always liked building things,” Lascola said. “The trades caught my eye because it’s using your hands and very high paying.”
Lascola, who is completing a maintenance apprenticeship for a manufacturing company, was a part of the high school’s work-based learning program, she said. William Cosgrove, the program’s coordinator, said its purpose is to help students gain experience through an internship.
To be in the program, students have to take at least one core class in career and technical education, which can include automotive, accounting and construction, Cosgrove said. Then, senior year, the students get 60 hours of internship experience in their field of study, he said.
Lascola’s career and technical classes included electronics/robotics and production/construction, Cosgrove said. Before she graduated in May, she worked with the school’s maintenance department.
“She wanted to go into elevators immediately. In the 20-plus years I’ve been teaching this I’ve never had a kid, regardless of gender, say that they wanted to go into the elevator trades,” Cosgrove said. “She follows the road less traveled, in the traditional sense.”
Lascola said working with the maintenance department, she learned about elevators, power generators and helped demolish and remodel a classroom, which included electrical work.
Lascola said she enjoyed learning about power tools, air filters and plumbing because that information could be applied to any trade.
“The internship I received from Shepard was literally indispensable. I worked with power tools for the first time, asked tons of questions, and learned the inner workings of the machines that make our infrastructure function,” Lascola wrote in a letter about the program.
Rodger Ford, director of building and grounds for High School District 218, said Lascola seemed to enjoy when he gave her and a few other students a look at the school’s elevator hydraulic pumps and safety controls.
“She’s fulfilling her dream,” Ford said. “This is really cool with her. It’s an excellent thing.”
Within the next 5 to 10 years, Lascola said her goal is to become a member of the elevator union, because it’s the highest paying trade. After that, she said she’d like to build something that can fly.
If a young person’s goal is to go to college, Lascola said one option could be learning a trade, working a few years to save up money, and then going to college.
As young women consider their career paths, Lascola said she’d encourage them to consider a trade because there is a high demand but low supply in skilled workers and the jobs pay well.
“It’s also empowering. If something breaks in the house you’re like, ‘yeah, I can fix that,’” Lascola said.
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