CCC2NAU student takes non-traditional route


Flagstaff, Ariz. – Structural engineer: It’s not a career usually associated with women.


But it’s what Coconino Community College student Tara Bubbico wants to do.


“I’ve always liked building things,” Bubbico said. “Not just the experience of building, but being a part of a finished thing that will be there for a long time.”


To that end, Bubbico enrolled in the Building Methods II woodworking class at CCC, an area of study not commonly associated with women. After she receives her associate degree from CCC, she plans on transitioning to Northern Arizona University to study for a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. The ultimate goal is a master’s degree in Structural Engineering.


At CCC, staff and faculty work hard to promote student interest in “non-traditional” disciplines in Career and Technical Education. Examples of this would be more men in nursing, or more women in construction management, or more women in fire sciences, or more men in medical assisting. Recently, CCC staff and faculty underwent training on the recruitment and retention of “non-trad” students.


Currently, there are 39 programs in Arizona classified as “non-traditional.” Among them are: Fire science, nursing, welding, paramedicine (EMT), medical assistant, construction technology, business, and computer information systems.


CCC receives funding as part of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, which is geared toward getting more secondary and post-secondary education students into the CTE trades. CTE programs funded through Perkins must lead to employment in high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand occupations. As an institution, CCC does well to graduate non-traditional CTE students, but still needs to work at attracting non-traditional students to the CTE disciplines.


Bubbico, a student in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, said that being a part of PTK inspired her to take action in her life. She wants to eventually be involved in the building of homeless shelters in third-world countries. She stated that in the profession of engineering, about 10 percent of the people who work in the field are women, and societal gender norms are “ridiculous” to her. She works on her own car. She welds.


“I’m stubborn,” Bubbico said. “Tell me I can’t do something, and I’ll say, ‘Watch me.’”


In her Building Methods II class at CCC, there is one other female student.


“I definitely do get a lot of respect from my classmates,” Bubbico said, adding that the men are very accepting of her abilities. “I never felt like they think I shouldn’t be doing this because I am a woman.”


Bubbico’s journey to her passion in life didn’t happen right out of high school. She attended community college briefly after high school and began working in a veterinarian’s office. Eventually, she began making money and found herself on a path that she didn’t feel very strongly about. But, a personal tragedy led her to realize that she had to stop talking about going back to school and just do it. She enrolled at CCC and slowly phased herself back into school life.


She loves working in the shop.


“When I step into the wood shop, my stress level goes down,” Bubbico said. “The smell of the wood calms me. When I make something with my hands that is tangible and beautiful, I just feel this swell of pride and accomplishment. I just love doing it.”


During the class, Bubbico made two Adirondack chairs that she donated to PTK in order to raise funds for a trip to an international conference this year.


The Perkins grant runs on a 15-month cycle and is subject to federal budget approval. It is anticipated that a new version of Perkins may be released in late spring 2017.



Tuesday, 6th June 2017

All Dates

  • Tuesday, 6th June 2017