When you think of a construction crew, you might expect all men. Not if you are in Marcus Graves’s carpentry class at Eden Career Tech Center.

Meet Carly Stanford, an 18-year-old senior at Springville High. About a year ago, Stanford had her heart set on being a nurse. That was before she found her way into Graves’ carpentry class at ECTC.

Today, Stanford is a state champion in carpentry, and plans to earn a project management degree in the construction field.

Stanford said she cannot take all of the credit for the state win.

“I have a great teacher in Mr. Graves, who taught me not only my technical skills, but also my soft skills,” she said. “For those who know me personally, I was always very shy and I would not talk to anyone new. Now, it comes almost natural – sort of. I also have a great relationship with God that kept me patient, humble and on the right path these past two years that led up to the state conference, and I plan to stay faithful.”

Stanford admits she did not like the carpentry class initially.

“I then realized after seeing what all could be accomplished and the careers that are in the field,” she said. “I decided that it would be really neat if I became one of the girls in a field like construction. I plan to go to ITT Tech for four years to get my project management degree in the construction field.”

Graves said he has had females in his class in the past, and they usually do well because they focus on the details where males don’t.

“Carly is different than most females in my class,” he said. “She works extra hard and wants to learn all she can to be successful in the construction field, and she will. A year ago, she was the first female to compete in carpentry at SkillsUSA in the past 25 years. After last year, she did construction work all summer and came back to my class this year wanting to learn all she could to get ready for the real world, but also for competition.”

Graves said the first district competition was at Gadsden State Community College in March, and Stanford won. Since winning state in April, she has been getting ready for nationals in Louisville, Ky., in June.

“She has been a great student to have in my class,” Graves said. “She has learned carpentry skills, but I hope she has also learned life skills because that is what will make her successful in life.”