Finding her place in solar


September 20, 2017
First class of Rising Women SPI Fellows. Chrissy Gonzales is second from right.

We partnered with Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) for Rising Women SPI Fellowship, a program that sent 6 women to the largest solar conference in North America, Solar Power International. Read on as Christina Gonzales, one of the 6 fellows, shares her solar journey.

"I never thought of pursuing a career in the solar industry, but when the opportunity was presented to me I was single, a first time mother, and stressed about looking for anything that would help me support my newborn daughter," wrote Christina Gonzales (Chrissy) in her SPI Fellow application letter.

"Being the only woman on the roof crew in a male dominated career has been a challenge but I love it. I’m hoping that by attending Solar Power International I’ll learn about state‐of‐the‐art technology, opportunities in the renewable energy field, and connect with employers. I know that there is so much more out there, I just need someone to help guide me in the right direction."

We caught up with Chrissy after the conference and asked about her experience. Things had shifted in her life since the application; just days before SPI the company she had been working for laid off the entire installation crew for refinancing and restructuring. Still, Chrissy was upbeat and excited for her future in solar. 

"I had a goal I was trying to get to, to move up in the company and help it grow. After the layoff I got thrown back into the water trying to fend for myself again," she said. "The people and women I've met at SPI are more than willing to help you get to the next level. It was an amazing experience and I'm very grateful to have been a part of it. I have a bunch of references now, and business cards and emails to check. After SPI, I don't feel like the door got shut."

Chrissy and her daughter Lilly smile for the camera with their hard hats on.
The reason she's working so hard to forge a career path in solar: unwavering support and love from her family and boyfriend, for which she is extremely grateful. She's determined to create a better life for her 4 year old daughter, who loves hearing stories from the rooftop each day.

"I started teaching my daughter all about tools. I got her a hardhat and she’s learning all the tools! She’s a smart little tool-baby," Chrissy laughed. "She’s the main reason why I work so hard. I’m hoping she can get into renewable energy. I’m working hard so my baby doesn’t have to work as hard. I know she’ll do something good."

Many congratulations to Chrissy and all the Rising Women SPI Fellows for their accomplishments and dedication to renewable energy. The industry needs passionate people like Chrissy -- get involved through our Women in Solar Program or donate today to support training for women.