Inspirational Women: Chantelle Campbell

Last night I watched Rebuilding the World Trade Center, a documentary made about the rebuilding of the towers that fell in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Using time-lapse photography and interviews with the construction workers, the documentary gave an insight into the love and passion that those workers have for rebuilding the World Trade Center, most seeking inspiration from their fathers and grandfathers, who helped build the original towers.  Anyway, while this IS an inspirational blog, it’s a blog about women, so I’d like to focus on one of the two women featured in the documentary, Chantelle Campbell.

Chantelle was working as a secretary in a building next to the original World Trade Center, the day the towers fell, although she wasn’t due to start work until 12pm, so thankfully was not in the building at the time.  She recalls how her job involved her “looking nice” but that after 9/11, she wanted to do something she could be passionate about.  So she made the huge change in career, becoming a concrete carpenter.  Chantelle says a lot of female carpenters are happy doing light work, and fetching coffee, but she says, “I want to be seen on the same level as the men… I don’t have the type of personality where I’m going to back down. That gets me a lot of respect.”*

Chantelle is a prime example of someone who decided to quit her job and seek a new career, in what is still very much a man’s world.  As well as being a woman doing a demanding, physical job, she is also a black woman.  Having recently read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, a fictional story about the wealthy white southern women and the appalling treatment of their African-American housekeepers during the 1960s, based on the author’s own experiences as a white girl growing up in the Southern USA with a black “mammy” (a black woman who cooks, cleans and raises the children), it is inspiring to think that Chantelle was able to work outside the domestic sphere in an office, let alone in the male-dominated world of construction.

Like many of the workers interviewed in the documentary who are second- and third-generation construction workers and owe their passion for rebuilding the World Trade Center to their fathers and grandfathers, Chantelle says that she wants her children and grandchildren to know that she helped rebuild the World Trade Center.  I too, want my children to be inspired by what I’ve achieved.  My female relatives have definitely inspired me in a lot of ways, but I know they have not achieved that elusive career to be passionate about.

 

Because Chantelle used to be an office worker, I can empathize a great deal with her desire to change jobs for something that offers much more job satisfaction.  While my own dream role is far less physical than the one she took on, knowing that it is possible to make such a huge change leaves me feeling like being paid for writing is finally within my reach.

 

*Thanks to www.theartsdesk.com for their review of Rebuilding the World Trade Center, from which I have borrowed some of the quotes and information about Chantelle.  Read the full review here http://www.theartsdesk.com/tv/rebuilding-world-trade-center-channel-4

 

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