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Nailed It

How CNM and Habitat for Humanity are training women to be successful and highly-skilled construction workers

May 07, 2018

Nailed It
Geraldine Tsosie working on a Habitat for Humanity house.

All morning Monday, the hottest day of the year so far, Geraldine Tsosie was out on the West Mesa with her pink hard hat working on a new Habitat for Humanity house. With saw dust flying everywhere and the sun beating down, she made precision cuts to lumber that would soon be part of the house’s frame.

Geraldine, 49, is studying Carpentry at CNM, and she was at the house as part of the National Women Build Week, an event run by Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s that’s helped build or repair homes for nearly 5,000 families across the country. This year, Albuquerque was one of 300 locations that participated, allowing local women like Geraldine to learn trade and leadership skills.

“It’s been great working with other women,” Geraldine said while taking a quick lunch break. “We all kind of stick together and figure things out together.”

Geraldine currently works at Smith’s where she’s been for the past 28 years. When she gets her degree soon (she has three classes left), she’s not sure what she’ll do with it, but is interested in perhaps becoming a housing inspector. Learning construction has also been part of a personal healing process.

Back in 2016, Geraldine was the survivor of domestic violence and she always remembers her then-boyfriend working as her handyman. To get her mind off the incident, and to prove she didn’t need anyone to do home improvement projects for her, she enrolled in CNM’s construction program and has been chipping away at her degree ever since.

“This is how I’m moving on,” she said.

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Geraldine Tsosie

Geraldine got involved in the Habitat project after Mary Broemel, who’s a part-time faculty member in the CNM Carpentry department, organized an all-women team to participate. For Mary, the project seemed like great real-world experience for her female students.

“I wanted these women to have the opportunity to put something really important like this on their resume,” she said.

The best part is that when Geraldine and the rest of the team are done, they will have built a house for a family in need. This one will be going to a single mom named Nicole Segarra who’s thankful that it’s been built by strong women.

“This home means more than just getting a house,” Nicole said. “It reminds me that hard work and doing the right thing is rewarding, that women can do anything and we can achieve our goals and make dreams come true.”