SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Inside a Sorrento Valley future biotech lab Tuesday, Reina Montoya made sure all the wiring was ready to go. It was one of 20 electrical inspections she carried out for the city that day.
Last month, she was under a different kind of pressure. Montoya and three San Diego teammates had six hours to build a tiny home to standard, competing against some of the best journeyman contractors from across the nation.
Her team took home the gold in the Associated Builders and Contractor's National Craft Championships.
"It was an awesome feeling," Montoya said.
Even more awesome, because nationwide only 11 percent of workers in the construction field are female.
"I wanted to show other women that there's opportunity there," Montoya said.
Her life changed after she completed an apprenticeship with San Diego's Associated Builders and Contractors. It's a four-year program in which students get paid to learn a trade before graduating to become journeyman, commanding pay rates of as much as $52 an hour plus benefits.
"I was a dishwasher and was barely making it, I barely put food on my table, and I saw an opportunity," Montoya said.
Now she says she's living comfortably in San Diego, putting food on that table and making her car payment, with a gold medal to boot.