Skip to main content

First woman of color in HVAC at HTC

Cassy Jensen HVAC graduate

Brooklyn Park, Jan. 27, 2022 – Cassy Jensen is a trailblazer. As a high school student, she enjoyed working as a maintenance technician at apartment complexes.

To advance her career, she enrolled in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program at Hennepin Technical College (HTC).

Faculty believe that Jensen is the first woman of color to graduate from HVAC at the college. She earned an associate degree in December 2021. Jensen identifies as as biracial/African American.

“What is the reason that other women of color are not pursuing HVAC? It’s good to have diversity everywhere,” said Jensen, “I have a sense of pride that I’m the first. It really helped me push myself.”

Jensen’s journey into the skilled trade began when she was 16-years-old while still a student at Burnsville High School. She enjoyed fixing things and was always eager to gain new skills and tackle projects with greater difficulty.  

“I get confidence from my mom. She raised me and my brother as a single mom,” said Jensen. “She’s always told us, ‘don’t let anyone tell you that you are different. You put effort into anything and you can do anything.’”

Fiercely independent, Jensen’s after-school job allowed her to become financially independent at age 19 and she was promoted to lead technician. In her work, she often she met with a vendors on projects. One vendor was especially impressed with Jensen’s abilities. The vendor was an HTC graduate in the HVAC program and he urged her to consider HVAC.

“He told me that if I like this type of work that I should go to school so that I can secure the best future possible. So I looked into it,” said Jensen.

Jensen says that it took courage to enter the HVAC program because nearly all the other students are men. But she quickly discovered a welcoming campus environment. She credits faculty with helping her to persist through academic challenges and navigate the difficulties of learning during COVID.

“At HTC, the faculty are not testing you just to see if you’ll fail. They are helping you succeed. Even if you are facing a problem that has nothing to do with school, faculty are helping you and that helps make everything less stressful,” said Jensen.

Class assignments were often challenging. Jensen and her HVAC classmates bonded while tackling the assignments together.  

“A lot of people in class enjoy working with me. They see that I understand the material,” said Jensen. “My classmates told me that if I ever meet other guys that have a negative attitude – that I shouldn’t let their judgement get in my way and I should remember that I’m good at this.”

After graduation, Jensen plans to apply to the Pipefitters Union and she’s looking forward to what lies ahead in her new career.

“I take a lot of pride in where I am now. It took a lot to get where I am. I learned that hard work allows you to move up,” says Jensen.

About Hennepin Technical College
Founded in 1972, Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is the largest stand-alone technical college in Minnesota. With campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, the college offers degree and non-degree courses in over 45 programs. Achieving a high job placement rate, HTC prepares students for in-demand and high-paying employment opportunities.

Last updated by mdibba : 2022-04-28 12:53:15