Shooting for the Stars

Shooting for the Stars

April Halverson

April Halverson started her journey with Gena Gesing from Career Learning Link at Northeast Iowa Community College in  2017, and started exploring all of the options for her career after high school. April wanted a job in advanced manufacturing but wanted to work for a company that she could grow with. She's always been interested in engineering, but didn't want to take on college debt.  She knew landing the right job would allow her to go back to school later after she got a head start with her career.


The proof is found in April Halverson’s story, a journey that began as a freshman at Howard-Winneshiek High School and culminated in landing a high-paying aerospace career with opportunities for additional training and advancement.


"Many of the classes I was taking in high school could be labeled as ‘guy’ classes, like manufacturing, Intro to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Engineering Design and Development, CNC and Welding. As a freshman, when I started taking these classes, I took them just to prove a girl could do it,” Halverson explained. “These STEM and advanced manufacturing credit courses were possible because of Northeast Iowa Community College. Through these opportunities, I found something I’m good at and can keep improving on.”


Halverson became interested in a potential career in the aerospace industry and attended a field trip to Collins Aerospace in Burnsville, Minn., on Feb. 21. The Career Learning Link program at Northeast Iowa Community College, and schools partnering through Youth Career Connect (YCC), invited Halverson to attend.


Inclement weather forecast for Feb. 20-21 prompted the student and her mother, Sandy, to drive to Minnesota the night before and stay in a hotel overnight. April was the only student from northeast Iowa to journey in the wintry conditions and attend the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Tour.


Her enthusiasm and passion for an aerospace career, and opportunities to use her CNC machinist and engineering skills, caught the interest of the Collins team.


“After attending the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Tour event at Collins Aerospace, I now have a solid career with the company right after graduating from high school last December. I went for my final interview and was offered a US Government machining employment position. It’s Level 4 pay instead of starting at Level 1,” Halverson expressed.


Every high school student’s story can look different, and Halverson knew early on that attending college right after graduating from high school wasn't the path she wanted to take, according to Holly O’Brien, NICC student success coach.


“Through our Career Learning Link program and by taking concurrent classes for college credits, April earned two Career Pathway Certificates in Welding and Computer Numerical Control while enrolled in high school. Not all students are two- or four-year college bound, but have the potential to be successful by training for an in-demand industry. April is educated about what she wants to do and will have opportunities to advance her education and training while working for Collins Aerospace,” stated O’Brien.


According to Jim Lynch, E3 STEM program manager at Apple Valley High School, “It is incredibly important to expose girls to female STEM professionals in the field in order to work against societal stereotypes and social pressures that run counter to having girls consider careers in these fields. Girls need to see themselves in these careers, and the best way to do that is to have them engage directly with female STEM professionals in their place of work.”


Networking is the power of Iowa Intermediary Network – April would not have the opportunities afforded to her without the support of the CLL network in coordination with Apple Valley High School. Now look where she is today and where she is headed into the future, just one short year after high school graduation!



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