“By the time I was in my 20s, I was tired of dead-end waitressing jobs and being yo-yoed around. I wanted out of that lifestyle,” she said.
“My mom encouraged me to find a hands-on career,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in taking things apart, and putting them back together. If you gave me a toy – anything from a Barbie doll with joints to a music box – it wouldn’t be long until I began exploring the inside of the thing.”
A single mother, Tebow knew education was the key to proving a stable home for her family. “I began this journey to make a life for my son,” she said.
Her first meeting with Thomas Stout, program head for mechatronics at Tidewater Community College, gave her confidence. “He was very interested in my success, and right away put me on a track with classes that were right up my alley.”
The mechatronics program combines mechanical and electrical coursework, and prepares students for work in advanced manufacturing. Tebow added, “My initial classes included robotics and motor controls, and combined hands-on work with the lectures. I knew I had found my niche.”
Many times, Tebow said, she had questions about the material, or just wanted to better understand what the class was studying. “Not once did my teachers tell me to just look in the book or do some research at home,” she said. “I was always met with enthusiasm, and I felt very encouraged by the faculty to never stop asking questions, never stop improving technique, always study, study, and then study some more. And to remember, that if you make a mistake, you can always try to fix it.”
Tebow, completed her associate degree in 2013 and currently works as a chemical process technician for Canon, Virginia, Inc. in Newport News. “I enjoy my job and the work I do with robots and automated systems,” she said. “I encourage other women to pursue careers in mechatronics. It’s very rewarding work, and we are beginning to make in-roads in this once male-dominated industry.”