Jessica Lazo Figueroa started in 2023 with Hooper as a Sheet Metal Youth Apprentice at the age of 17 – the youngest to participate in the program through the Madison Metropolitan School District and the only woman.

“What I like most about my job is the feeling of completing a piece in the fabri­cation shop or hanging ductwork at the job site,” said Figueroa. “I get really proud of myself and being able to say, ‘I did this. I did that.’ It makes me feel happy.” 

When she’s not at school or in the metal shop, you may find Jessica giving back to her community, volunteering her time for organizations such as Developing Artists, Murals and Alliances, BEACON for the homeless, Friends of State Street Family, and providing childcare at women’s meetings for UNIDOS, a bilingual organization for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Jessica always jumps at the opportunity to participate in career fairs or other trade functions and goes above and beyond to recruit other participants for various WRTP | BIG STEP programs. “This last year she was a guest speaker at her school and talked about her journey through Youth Apprenticeships and WRTP | BIG STEP’s construction training program. She received the Youth Apprentice of the Year award from the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County,” said Jac Weitzel, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin.

As for her peers thinking about a career in the construction industry, Jessica offers this; “Some days will be challenging, but it’s important that you work hard and don’t give up! Don’t listen to the stereotypes out there, focus on work and prove that women can do this type of work as well.”