Monique Song didn’t expect her life to dramatically pivot in 2019. In June of that year, after spending a year travelling and working in Australia, she received an ultimatum from her father: go back to her corporate career, find a husband, or take up a master’s degree.
His demand wasn’t unexpected. Monique, the only daughter of very traditional first-generation Asian-Canadian parents, had seen this happen in her home country. Eventually, she decided to appease her parents and chose to enroll in graduate studies.
A journey into trades education
When asked about her start in trades, Monique, now a current Level Two BCIT Metal Fabricator student, shares, “I originally got accepted into a Master of Business Administration program back in 2020, but things quickly changed during the pandemic.”
The pandemic, which offered Monique a chance rethink her decision, was a blessing.
“I knew I was pursuing the program for my parents’ sake and the pandemic helped me listen to my heart instead,” says Monique, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Her gut was telling her to explore a curiosity that had sparked when she lived in Australia. She had seen many hard-working tradespeople proudly wearing their workwear and doing something tangible in their community.
Monique decided to pursue an education in trades instead.
“I knew I wanted to be a ‘tradie’,” she says. “I just didn’t know which trade to pursue or how to get in. So, I did some research and the BCIT Trades Discovery program popped up. It felt serendipitous.
Discovering a new passion
Despite her parents’ disapproval, Monique followed her heart and enrolled in the BCIT Trades Discovery for Women program.
“The Trades Discovery program was exactly what I needed,” says Monique. “It helped me trial the different trades and draw inspiration from instructors.”
The BCIT Trades Discovery Associate Certificate—a full-time program through which students can access more than 15 different trades disciplines—offers practical and relevant hands-on education for those interested in trades. Through this program, Monique found her passion and enrolled in the Metal Fabricator Foundation program soon after.
“I learned so much from the program and the instructors,” recalls Monique. “They tailored each course for students and gave us clear guidance and autonomy.”
Generosity paved the way
BCIT instructors and peers weren’t the only sources of support for Monique. She received an invaluable student grant—made possible by the generosity of Concert Properties through the BCIT Foundation—that supported her trades education.
“I’m grateful to Concert Properties for supporting students, especially women in trades,” says Monique. For more than three decades, Concert Properties has been a strong supporter of trades education at BCIT, contributing to student awards and bursaries.
After receiving the grant, which allowed her the opportunity to explore various trades skills, Monique feels confident that she’s found her calling in metal. She even took time to write a personal note to thank Concert for supporting her BCIT education.
Coming full circle
Monique completed her Level Two training in Metal Fabricator in February 2023 and looks forward to the future.
“I’m excited to get my Red Seal in the next few years,” she says. “Perhaps my business education will come through in the future when I run my own fabrication shop.”
She also aims to inspire others. Monique says she hopes to one day return to BCIT as an instructor: “I think it would feel full circle to be the first minority woman teaching Metal Fabricator at BCIT. I think younger me would be proud and excited.”