Washburn Tech Student Builds a New Future

April 8, 2016

Few grandmothers go back to school and enter the construction field. Paula Carvell is not your typical grandmother. A student in Washburn Tech’s Building Technology program, Carvell is learning the trade through classwork, lab work and volunteering in the community.

In March, she joined a team of women who worked on a Habitat for Humanity home at 2529 S.E. Michigan. The volunteer opportunity was part of Topeka Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build project, which is designed to get more women involved in construction. Carvell and fellow Building Technology student Lindsey Jones were among 15 women who rolled up their sleeves to perform various tasks including painting and trim work.

“Our instructors encouraged us to participate because this project provides a real-life, hands-on construction opportunity plus it allows us to represent Washburn Tech in the community,” said Carvell. “I’m starting a second career, so for me this is living the dream.”

Carvell, 54, admits she is not the typical Washburn Tech student. She has grown children and in her words, “three awesome grandchildren.” Her resume includes a master’s degree in Business Administration as well as experience working with programs, projects, processes and in customer service. She will add to that list of accomplishments in May when she graduates from Washburn Tech.

“Now, I’m learning how to build things and excited to see what new doors God opens in the construction industry when I combine the old with the new,” Carvell said. “Maybe I will land a job as a commercial construction site superintendent, project manager, safety professional or work in human resources.”

In addition to a new career, Carvell plans to utilize her newly-acquired knowledge and skills by working alongside her son, Kevin. He also is graduating in May from Washburn Tech’s Building Technology program. The pair plans to combine efforts this summer to renovate what she calls “a fixer-upper cabin” in Colorado.

“My experiences at Washburn Tech including Building Technology, Student Government and SkillsUSA have given me a new sense of courage to try and do new things,” Carvell said. “From buying a cabin to remodel to running for national office at SkillsUSA, my eyes are open to new possibilities. I’ve learned you really can teach an old dog new tricks!”