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"I'm not a female carpenter - I'm just a carpenter"

A Victoria University carpentry student with a lifelong passion for building has been named female apprentice of the year by the Master Builders’ Association.

Daniela Lopez-Granada, 23, from Point Cook  said she was shocked to receive the award, which came with thousands of dollars worth of tools she didn’t yet own, including a framing gun and a circular saw.

As a fourth-year apprentice for employer Joncol Building Services, Daniela expects to be a fully qualified tradie by year-end. She specialises in home renovations and extensions, mainly in Melbourne’s rapidly gentrifying west.

Daniela says she enjoys all aspects of the work, especially the demolition stage, then “doing a full reno, top-to-bottom, on a house that didn’t look very pretty to start.”

Although some clients are still surprised to see a woman on a job site, Daniela says “I’ve never really considered myself a female carpenter – I’m just a carpenter.”

Even her parents were unsure of Daniela’s career choice when she told them soon after they migrated to Australia from Colombia a few years ago.

“At first they discouraged me because in my country this is not really seen as a good job, especially for a woman,” she says. “But now they fully support me because I’ve convinced them this is what I love.”

One of Daniela’s teachers, Haydn Radford, says Daniela made a lasting impression on him and was the first in the class to get an apprenticeship.

“She has a natural talent for carpentry and showed great dedication to improve her skills as her career progresses from apprentice to trades person.”

Daniela says she enjoys being on the tools for now, but hopes to become a building inspector one day.

“I’m beginning to think of the future, especially when I’ve spent all day just digging.”     

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