Heavy equipment grad ‘never gave up’ in face of adversity

Heavy equipment grad ‘never gave up’ in face of adversity

Megan Shechosky wants to be a role model and help women succeed in the trades

If Megan Shechosky was the type to take the easy road, she never would have set foot in a heavy equipment shop.

When she first sought training opportunities 7 years ago, no one would give her a shot — and it had nothing to do with her skills.

“I had a lot of employers who would say, ‘I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m not willing to take a chance on a girl,’” says Shechosky. “They said I was too small or didn’t think I’d be able to handle the weight of the work.”

Not only did she refuse to give up, she just finished her apprenticeship in Heavy Equipment Technology at NAIT. Now she wants to use her experiences to help other women pursue careers in the trades.

‘I can’t imagine another job I’d be happy at.’

It’s the realization of a dream that started in girlhood when she got interested in auto mechanics working with her dad, Alex Shechosky. She took mechanics courses through junior and senior high school and then discovered the field of heavy equipment and hydraulics repair, which she found “fascinating.”

“I said, I need to know how that works and I’m going to figure it out,” she says.

Finding support at NAIT

After finding a few shops willing to take her on, she spent several years working in Edmonton and Fort St. John, British Columbia, before deciding she wanted to improve upon the technical side of her training. Since arriving at NAIT, she’s received nothing but support.

She says her learning experience vastly improved after the opening of NAIT’s Heavy Equipment Technology building in 2016.

“With the size of the shops, you get so much more out of it now,” says Shechosky. “I would say my learning experience was about 70% better.”

The facility can accommodate up to 72 students per intake and was supported by a donation from Imperial, which has given more than $2 million to NAIT’s Chemical Technology, Petroleum Engineering Technology, Heavy Equipment and Industry Heavy Equipment programs since 2000.

“Imperial recognizes investing in programs that expand education opportunities for skilled workers strengthen communities.”

"Together with NAIT, we see shared value in improving access to education and supporting innovative approaches in science and technology to further the success of the next generation of skilled labour," says Laura Bishop, Imperial’s director of community engagement and investment.

Megan ShechoskyShechosky’s pursuit of her dreams hasn’t been without setbacks. Last September, her left arm was crushed working in the agriculture industry and repairing a forage harvester.

The accident damaged ligaments and nerves that left her with feeling in only a third of her arm. Seven months of physiotherapy helped her regain about 50% of her movement but it could be two years before she fully recovers — if ever.

“She wants to learn and she gets right in there. I couldn’t ask for someone better to have in the classroom.”

The injury has complicated career planning, but she credits instructor Dwayne Boissonnault for helping investigate other ways to use her skills. That may mean a return to lighter mechanics, which would be easier on her injured arm.

“She wants to learn and she gets right in there. I couldn’t ask for someone better to have in the classroom.”

Whatever path she ends up choosing, Shechosky says wants to be an example for other women in the trades and could see herself in a teaching role.

“I’m extremely happy that I never gave up because I can’t imagine another job I’d be happy at.”

Published on May 31, 2018