This AmeriCorps Week, we spoke with LaNetra Barnes, a 27-year old GRID Los Angeles SolarCorps Construction Fellow, about her AmeriCorps journey.
Although I was a shy kid growing up in Long Beach California, I always knew I wanted to be a positive influence and a part of change. I attended El Camino Compton College while working full time as a security guard to make a way for myself. Unfortunately, with life’s expenses and responsibilities, I was unable to complete school. Before I knew it, five years had gone by, and I had a job that was only managing to pay my bills. But I was yearning for a career - something to help me develop an independent life for myself.
Then I completed a twelve-week hands-on paid solar job training with GRID through The Conservation Corps of Long Beach. The work grew on me - and the construction leadership quickly noticed my determination. After the training, I was offered an internship position with the GRID Los Angeles office. During my four month internship, I was able to walk through my neighborhood and converse with my peers about renewable energy. I became excited about the change that was taking place in my community, and the life changes we were making for families.
After my internship, I was encouraged to apply for the GRID SolarCorps Construction Fellowship and continue my education. It has been a liberating experience - to progress as far as I have an African American woman, having not known much about solar energy or working on a roof to begin with.
After my Fellowship, I plan to continue learning in the solar field and to start my own contracting company. My goal is to be an inspiration for women and young girls, to influence them to join the clean energy and construction field, and to show them that women can do this form of work, too. When others see that I’m confident on the roof, it makes them confident.
I love working in solar energy, making change, and promoting women’s presence in the industry - to help us all be confident, fearless and take part in the clean energy movement, and to believe in ourselves, no matter what.