Women Techs Rock: How Sunstate tech Dee Lease learned to follow her heart

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A selfie from Sunstate technician Dee Lease

Technician: Dara “Dee” Lease
Employer: Sunstate Equipment
Age: 31

Who is Dee Lease?

Raised by a single mother, Dee Lease understood the importance–and difficulty–of independence from an early age. Like so many other women, Dee had to walk down many different paths to find her way in this world. To start building a stable career and future, Dee was convinced by her peers to attend nursing school. Quickly Dee found that she was not following her heart and decided that nursing school was not a good fit for her skills and interests.

However, Dee always was a tinkerer, and she recognized that she had the right mindset and aptitude for technical work. More importantly, Dee came to appreciate that what she truly wanted was the sense of independence that comes from being able to understand how things work, and how to fix those same things when they stop working. Unfortunately, Dee’s high school did not offer much in the way of technical education, so Dee had to find it elsewhere.

Once again going against the advice and pressures from those around her, Dee would join the United States Navy to try and forge her own path through her life. Despite concerns from her mother, Dee finally found an environment in which she thrived, as a technician in the Navy’s FA/18 fighter jet program. Driven to continue furthering her education and life experiences, Dee learned about the G.I. Bill program that would provide the tuition assistance to offer her a chance at a professional education.

Through her research into her educational future, Dee came across Universal Technical Institute (UTI). Dee felt that automotive work fit well with her mechanical interests and aptitude, her military experience, and her continued journey for personal independence. At UTI, Dee began taking Ford-specific classes, believing that it would provide a stable future and an abundance of opportunities. However, while in school, she met a recruiter for Sunstate Equipment, a heavy equipment rental company.

Dee noticed how happy the recruiter was to be working for Sunstate, and the glowing reviews he gave the company and its work environment. Once again following her gut instinct, Dee interviewed with Sunstate and was hired immediately. Dee now works as a diesel and heavy equipment technician with Sunstate. To Dee, when things get difficult or out of her comfort zone, that’s when she knows she needs to continue to push forward to grow as a person.

Dee knows her profession is tough on women, and she continues to push through the resistance she faces, choosing instead to see the upside and turn difficult situations into learning moments and to gather motivation. Dee refused to become mired in the negatives.

Dee has found a life work balance that she understands not all others get to enjoy. She is in the process of adopting a one-year-old and looks forward to sharing the many life lessons she has learned. The most important lesson being to follow your passions as you grow older.

Dee’s next major career goal is to learn as much as possible about as much different heavy equipment and machinery so that she may further her training with Sunstate to become an equipment and technician trainer.

Q&A

Q: What would you tell other women considering this profession?
A: Dee believes the educational foundation is key, and that other women should look for where their passion lies. School should amplify their interests and advance their knowledge. Dee continued to learn things even when she thought she felt they were challenging, and now she can do things like read schematics and work with electronics as well as any other technician.
She believes it is important for technicians to continue to find opportunities to learn and advance their training. “Technology is going to advance, so you need to advance with it.”

Q: What mantra do you use when things get challenging?
A: “Fear is the false evidence appearing real. The acronym for F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real.”
While Dee overcame challenges and plenty of negative feedback when choosing her career, she says she wouldn’t change her path for anything. It has grown her knowledge and confidence in ways she would not have considered prior.

Q: What is your dream form of transportation?
A: Dee dreams of a 1976 Chevrolet squarebody truck someday, but for now will settle for the reliability and safety her Honda Civic affords her–family being first.

Written by TechForce Foundation

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