When Tiffany Votta set out for a construction management degree from Joliet Junior College, she knew she’d be entering a field comprised mostly of men.
JJC paved the way for Votta, who for years prior was unable to land her dream job. A degree would later help her secure a construction supervisor role with ComEd at its Bradley, IL office, a half hour from her hometown of Braidwood. Now, Votta hopes her career will inspire other women and minorities with a passion for the profession. She’s even created a scholarship to help do just that, and in turn give back to her community.
The Pay it Forward Scholarship assists female students with a financial need. It awards $500 per year to a student enrolled at least part-time in a JJC Technical Department program. Votta, who served as student speaker at JJC’s May 2017 Graduation, combined the speakership stipend with her own funds to create the annual gift.
“This school has an amazing, supportive group of professors and getting to know the other students is great, too,” she said. “Many of us work full-time and it’s wonderful to know that we are all in this together. Being a female in a male-dominated field, I would advise other women to be persistent – you can only make it happen if you try.”
Votta stressed that JJC professors not only prepared her physically to work in this field, but equipped her with the “emotional intelligence” to succeed.
“My professors at JJC expanded on my capacity to acknowledge that there are interpersonal relationships in a management role that are present and that I must be not only aware of but also in control of,” she said. “They emphasized keeping control of my emotions, and aware of how to handle each situation not just empathetically (my strong suit) but also judiciously. A major key to not just my professional success, but my personal success as well.
Today, Votta supervises roughly 30 employees in managing ComEd’s construction, scheduling and other projects in and around Kankakee County. In addition, not only is she contributing to the local workforce, she’s encouraging others to give back in any way they can.
“I see JJC as a big circle – giving us the tools and knowledge so we can go out there and pay it back. I promote JJC at work, and encourage them to donate to the school and my scholarship.”
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