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Sara Collier’s two community college degrees have enabled her to pursue her passions. Her initial studies concentrated on her strong interest in farming and sustainable agriculture. She graduated in 2010 with a AAS in Sustainable Agriculture from Central Carolina Community College. After working in agriculture for more than a decade, she returned to Central Carolina Community College because she wanted to gain more energy-related skills. She initially thought she would study solar for farms, but she instead fell in love with the field of building science and energy modeling.
The most valuable part of the building science program was the hands-on training. Each year the students would build a house and then the college would auction it off at the end of the year to raise money for the next year’s students’ house building. Because she needed to be part of a such a focused effort, Sara gained skills with power tools that had initially intimidated her. With the mentorship from instructors and collaboration with the other students, Sara became more self-confident and more self-sufficient. This experience made her realize that she could do a lot of things she didn’t realize she could do. Today she uses this confidence to give advice to builders on site optimizing building efficiency.
Sara credits her success to the mentorship she received from the dedicated instructors at Central Carolina CC and to the mentorship from guest speakers from the building performance industry and women in leadership in energy companies.
Today Sara is the Training Manager and National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Program Manager for Southern Energy Management in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has been at her current company for seven and a half years. Her primary role is to conduct HERS rater training at her company for new hires and to make sure current employees maintain their certifications through RESNET.
The best part of her job is that the people and technology are always changing and evolving so the variety keeps it interesting. She really likes that this is a field where you are encouraged to keep on learning. She encourages other women to consider this field and to embrace the dynamic nature of the work and to stay nimble. Sara says women thrive in this field because it is detail oriented and has so many specialty departments that they can pursue whatever they are most interested in. Sara also taught part-time at Central Carolina CC for four years. The teaching experience has helped her to be a mentor for new hires at her company.
In the future Sara would like to combine her skills in building science with her interests in affordable housing and sustainable agriculture. She is interested in being part of the solution as the climate changes.