In her first semester at Bay College, Kearra Paquin has been busy juggling her efforts to earn a welding certificate and her involvement with the Bay College Norse women’s basketball team. So far, she has found success in both realms.
Kearra hails from Engadine, MI, where she graduated from high school earlier this year. In June 2021, Bay representatives contacted her about the possibility of joining the Bay College Norse women’s basketball team.
While Kearra aimed to play basketball on a high level since her junior year of high school, her interest in the sport goes much further back. She said she grew up playing basketball and has been involved with it since the third grade. Still, her time as a high school basketball player encouraged her to take it more seriously than she had before.
“I realized what it could do to change me, and to help me build bonds with other people,” she said.
Kearra began her time at Bay during the fall 2021 semester. As of October, she said her team was still preparing for the start of its season.
“We’re just practicing. We have our first game Nov. 5, with a few scrimmages beforehand,” she said.
According to Kearra, she decided to pursue a welding certificate at Bay after taking welding classes in high school. She started welding as a sophomore and continued each year until she graduated.
“It’s been going good. It’s different from high school, with how it’s set up and how many people are involved,” she said of her early experiences with Bay’s welding program.
However, welding alone would not have been enough to last until the end of her stint as a Bay College Norse basketball player. She had signed up to play on the team for two years, but a welding certificate only takes one year to earn – and Bay athletes need to take a certain number of credits each semester.
“I had to pick something else to go with my welding certificate, so I picked occupational studies,” Kearra said.
When she finishes her time at Bay, Kearra plans to find a job in the welding industry.
“I’m going to try getting a job at the welding facility in Iron Mountain, where my dad works,” she said.
Even if she ends up working somewhere else, Kearra noted that qualified welders are in high demand.
“It’ll be way easier than finding some other jobs,” she said.
She also hopes her involvement in the welding industry will play some role in encouraging other women to enter this field.
“With me being a woman, people look to that. There’s not many girls that weld,” Kearra said.