STEM careers are varied and there are so many paths that lead to a job that one can’t describe a perfect pathway. One story of a STEM professional in our area may give you a glimpse at how finding the right position in STEM works. Read the story about Chief below to get a flavor!
His Education and Career Path
Chief is a current employee of Portland General Electric (PGE) and an adjunct instructor for BMCC’s Industrial Systems Technology program. He sits on advisory boards for GO STEM, Blue Mt Community College’s “Industrial Systems Technology” program, and Walla Walla Community College’s “Energy Systems Technology” program. Here is his story:
“I was born and raised in Sacramento California. I am a member of the Madesi band of the Pit River Nation, a northern California federally recognized Indian Tribe. I completed all my elementary education in the North Sacramento area. In high school I participated in Bio-Med, MESA and Upward Bound programs. Summer jobs in high school; I worked for McClellan Air force base one summer in the Bio-Environmental Engineering lab testing industrial waste water and two summers for the base hospital as a medical lab technician where I certified in phlebotomy, urinalysis, hematology and blood chemistry and partially in the bacteriology department.
The U.C. Davis Educational Outreach Program targeted me while enrolled at Grant High School in Sacramento California. Grant High School is an urban high school that at that time in the early eighties was approximately 40% African American, 40% Hispanic and the balance a mixture of other ethnic backgrounds. After serving a two year mission for the LDS Church I enrolled at U.C. Davis.
While I was a student at U.C. Davis I worked in the Educational Outreach Program to recruit minority students throughout the state and in nearby states. I worked with students of all ethnic backgrounds because I came from an inner city high school. I was specifically tasked to help with Native American student recruitment because I am a federally recognized California Indian. I visited reservations and held workshops for Native American high school students. We hosted several workshops on the U.C. Davis campus bringing in Native American high school students from California, Oregon and Nevada. I served as President of the Native American Student Union the last two years I attended U.C. Davis. I also served on the Native American Cultural Committee and was the Chairman of this committee my last year at U.C. Davis.
I was a Biochemistry Major and Native American Studies Minor at U.C. Davis from 1987 to 1990. I worked for Dr. Jerry Green on a cardio vascular research team during the school year and as a food chemist for Campbell’s Soup Company during the summers. I was a married student and we had two of our seven children while I attended U.C. Davis. The pressures of my studies and the extra-curricular activities I was involved in put a severe strain on my marriage. We decided to take a year off from school with the intention of returning to finish my undergraduate work and then start medical school.
In the fall of 1990 we moved to Boardman Oregon near my in-laws and I started what I thought would be a temporary job with Portland General Electric (PGE) in March of 1991. I entered the plant equipment operator training program and decided to extend my educational leave another year to complete this qualification. At the conclusion of my training we determined that PGE offered a desirable career path and so we decided to stay. During my 27 years with PGE I continued my power plant education and training eventually qualifying as an Assistant Control Operator, Control Operator, and Shift Supervisor.
I started my PGE management career as Shift Supervisor in 2004 and held this position until 2014. I was promoted to plant Training Supervisor for the next two years. In 2016 I was promoted to Generation Training Specialist with responsibility for all training across the PGE fleet of 9 power plants and its 540 employees.
In 2012 I completed the PGE hydro fundamentals course through Clackamas Community College and continued on to earn an AAS in Electrical technology from Clackamas CC. I transferred to OIT where I am currently working on a BS degree in Technology Management.”
Currently, Chief arranges tours for school groups and visits classrooms to encourage STEM careers. Contact him about a possible opportunity for you and your class to visit.
There are so many careers and ways to reach those goals. Check out these interesting career paths and eastern Oregon careers at: Career. Connect with this website to see a variety of STEM careers and the kind of work each job involves: https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/career-resource-center/careers-in-stem/
STEM Career Resources
For a comprehensive listing of STEM career resources, see https://web.uri.edu/career/students/science-technology-engineering-math/stem-career-resources/