Malynda Goodman: ‘I feel a part of something bigger’

Malynda Goodman had been working at Cascade Steel for 21 years when she decided it was time for a change. During her time working in the storeroom, she got to know all of the millwrights and all of the parts they were using in their repairs, but there was one question she couldn’t stop thinking about.

“It made me question why,” said Goodman. “How do you guys know what needs to be done to this?”

Now in her third year as a student at Linn-Benton Community College and apprentice at Cascade Steel, Goodman described how machining has always been a kind of wonder of hers. “I don't fit the mold for the office clerical thing, but this intrigued me. I wanted to be more for the mill. I wanted to be more for me,” she said.

Goodman has been through a lot in her life. Through it all, Cascade Steel was there. 

Having struggled with addiction and mental health issues in the past, Goodman had always found support and stability while working at Cascade Steel. “I want[ed] to kind of give back to them,” she said. “That's opened up a whole new door of how far I want to take this. It's been a huge drive.”

And while the drive to do more was there for her, so were the nerves at the thought of going back to school. She was nervous and had no idea what to expect. “To me,” she said, “it would be a bunch of kids all staring at me through the side of their eye going, ‘What's that old woman in here for? Home economics or something like?’ And it was nothing like that.”

Goodman is more than halfway through her four-year program at LBCC. The experience has been better than she had hoped. “LBCC has been phenomenal in helping guide me through the whole thing,” Goodman said. “I haven't hit any roadblocks. They really go out of their way to make you feel like you belong and you've earned your spot in the program.”

Despite the absence of roadblocks in the program, Goodman acknowledged that being a woman working in the trades comes with its own hurdles. "We have to prove ourselves a little bit more,” Goodman said. “Whereas with a man it's, 'Welcome to being a mechanic.' As a woman it's like, 'How are you gonna do that? You're too little. You're not strong enough.'”

Goodman’s response to those questions is: “I've been a woman for a long time and I’ve figured a lot of stuff out.”

For Goodman, the best part of this whole experience so far has been making her family proud. “My children are adults now. My daughter told me she was proud of me and everything I do. [That] was huge because I wasn't a perfect parent,” Goodman said. “It's been one of the proudest moments in my adult life. I feel proud, I feel empowered, and I have confidence that I didn't even know I could have.”

Goodman hopes her story can be an inspiration for anyone who is considering enrolling in LBCC’s Apprenticeship Program. “I would like to be instrumental in guiding others who want to follow their dreams in the trades,” Goodman said.

“I would like to be an example. That's my dream.”