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Idaho State University Women in Work Conference set March 4, features keynote Billie Johnson

March 1, 2015
ISU Marketing and Communications

Alesha Churba made the sacrifice to attend school twice, but says the second time around was when she finally figured things out. The single mother spent more than a decade working endless hours in retail management after earning her first degree, and it was only then that she realized a focused education would be her ticket to something better.

In 1999, Churba made her first visit to the Center for New Directions, an Idaho State University department that provides members of the community with resources to take control of their lives. In an effort to narrow down viable career options, Churba met with a career counselor from the ISU department and explored short-term training opportunities.

“I was looking to focus on a trade,” said Churba. “I knew that I needed to get my feet under me as soon as possible, and they took my hand and helped me to navigate the intimidating journey back to college.”

The Center for New Directions provided free and confidential direction to Churba, and counselors assisted her with the confidence and tools required to balance being a single mother and full time student.

That fall, Churba enrolled in the Computer Aided Design Drafting program at the ISU College of Technology. She felt a strong connection with drafting, which is traditionally a male-dominated field of study.

“People kept telling me that I couldn’t do it, but I was determined to prove them wrong. I saw the career that I wanted, so I pushed aside the doubts and moved forward,” she said.

Today, Churba is helping others as the drafting program coordinator, and is one of the organizers of ISU’s annual Women in Work conference, scheduled March 4 at the ISU Pond Student Union.

“I tell the female students in my class to take advantage of all the resources available and never give up. Of course this a traditionally male-dominated field of study, but it doesn’t mean that a female can’t be successful,” said Churba.

At the conference, hundreds of high-school aged girls tour technology programs and network with successful women professionals.

The keynote speaker of this year’s Women in Work event is Billie Johnson, a physical design engineer at ON Semiconductor in Pocatello. Johnson is a published technical author and regular columnist for the Idaho State Journal. She will address the need for women to enter careers in the ever-growing fields of science, engineering, technology and math.

The Women in Work conference is still accepting online registrations at For more information about the conference or services provided by the Center for New Directions, call (208) 282-2454.


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