Nancy Villalobos is the first graduate from the Building Construction Technology Associate of Science Degree Program at Doña Ana Community College.
The 27-year-old student from Anthony completed her degree after the 2019 fall semester.
While at DACC she took advantage of many student opportunities. Villalobos participated in SkillsUSA competitions for three years where she won two gold medals, one silver and three bronze in state construction competitions. She was a delegate to the national competition and the college president of New Mexico SkillsUSA. She also competed in the National Home Builders Association competition in Las Vegas, NV where the DACC team took home the “Rookies of the Year” award. Villalobos credits these extracurricular activities as a major factor in developing her leadership skills.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines a non-traditional career for women as one in which 25% or less of those employed in the field are women. Even today, in the 21st century, the Department of Labor lists over 100 occupations that fall into this category, including the construction trades.
DACC Advanced Technology Dean Saundra Castillo is pleased Villalobos pursued a career in a male dominated field. “When choosing an occupation, a woman should consider all options because there are none that a woman can’t do based on her gender alone,” Castillo said. “The pay, benefits and job satisfaction are sometimes much higher than in traditionally female dominated occupations. We are very proud of Nancy for pursuing her dream career in the construction industry.”
Villalobos’ future plans include continuing to work in her chosen field and in several years, starting her own business and bring more jobs to the community. “Many people think construction is grabbing a hard hat and swinging a hammer,” Villalobos said. “That is true, but there is so much more to construction, you can become an estimator, an interior designer or even take a position in management.”
DACC Assistant Professor Kevin Gall worked with Villalobos for many of her classes. “She was an outstanding student who worked hard and excelled,” Gall said. “Besides her studies and participation in student activities she also worked at Area Iron and Steel Works while attending college.”
Students seeking the Building Construction Technology Associate of Science Degree receive necessary training and significant hands-on instruction in basic construction safety, technical math skills, blueprint reading, use of hand and power tools, wood building materials, concrete work, masonry construction, and basic plumbing skills. Certificates can be earned along the way in building construction technology, basic solar, energy auditing and plumbing. The required technical training provides expertise in the industry, as well as the needed soft skills, which are highly valued in the workplace.
As far as being a trailblazer for those who come behind her, Villalobos has this advice for other women entering the field, “Don’t be discouraged to get into a male dominated career field if that is what you have a passion for,” Villalobos said. “There are many who want to see you succeed and will offer you help along the way, like those who encouraged me at my job and at DACC.”