Going to a community college offers a unique experience. Students meet people from all over and experience different realms of the community they may not get to know otherwise. With so many people in college and going through a similar experience of finals, struggles and late nights, it’s interesting to see where a few of their peers are now.
Brianne Koehler is a 26-year-old woman that was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Koehler entered the workforce immediately after high school and became well-versed in the world of small business and the local community. After years of learning through first-hand experience, trial and error and the growing pains of those worlds, she realized she was missing something. She realized what that something was when she entered a wood shop.
“It was such a strange feeling, I smelled the freshly cut wood and remembered a book train I had made in elementary school and immediately knew that I needed to build something again. So, I did. I built a piano bench for a friend and then a cabinet for another friend and my list just kept going on and on. I finally found what I wanted to do,” says Koehler.
Soon after, Koehler started getting numerous projects. She realized where her true passion laid and followed her gut. She quit her job and enrolled at Salt Lake Community College to pursue her Associate of Science in Construction Management. She hustled through her associate degree, being one of three women in as many of 55 in the field.
“Being a girl in a male-prominent workplace is definitely interesting because I feel like I have to prove myself a little more than the boys do,” says Koehler. “I’ve learned how all these tools work through blood, sweat and tears, plus some. What’s really cool though, is that SLCC gave me a jumpstart in my career by helping me learn the basics of the construction field and helped me know what to expect.”
While in school, Koehler used her grandparents’ garage as a work space. She lugged all her tools from her car, to her grandparents’ garage and then to work sites that she had been called to. The gear alone was heavy but after building a steady portfolio of diverse projects, she now has her own shop where all her tools are. Her shop portrays her and her journey of becoming a carpenter; she has her favorite quotes on the walls, plays her favorite music, and best of all, she’s not done with her journey.
“Now that I have a space of my own, I hope to inspire others like SLCC inspired me,” says Koehler. “One day, I’ll get to the point where I can hold workshops on how to build a bench or even a ladder and empower women and men in my own community. I’d love to build tiny homes and maybe even become a part of the solution for housing homeless people. All I know is that I love to build — whether it be with wood or through conversations, that’s what I am and who I am.”
Koehler is an example for all students following their own dreams and becoming a part of their community. Visit @bewoodworks on Instagram to follow her journey.