Paving the way for success: 19-year-old has a unique interest in road work

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The job market may be tough right now, but that hasn’t stopped one young woman from pursuing her passion in an unusual field.

WAYNE, WV (WOWK) — The job market may be tough right now, but that hasn’t stopped one young woman from pursuing her passion in an unusual field.

At a typical construction site off the side of the road, it can be unusual to see someone like Elizabeth Dean.

Elizabeth Dean, a 19-year-old paver operator for Blacktop Industries, jokes she knows she seems out of place.

“Everybody that drives by does a double take,” Dean said.

At 19 years old, Dean has already accomplished more than most folks do by their mid-twenties.

“I was able to test out and skip 11th and 12th grade, and start at Ashland Community and Technical College when I was 14, full-time.  I got a two year degree in Business Administration, graduated when I was 16, took a year off to travel, and work, and be a kid, then I started at Marshall when I was 17; And so I’m 19 now and I have twelve hours left at Marshall.”

Elizabeth Dean, Paver Operator

That by itself is impressive. However, Dean also has another extraordinary passion.

“You know, I was 16 years old I had no idea, I had a business degree but what I actually wanted to do out of the businesses I didn’t really know.  I kinda…kinda landed on paving,” Dean said.

For Dean, the world of paving is something she’s grown up around her whole life.

“I’ve been going to jobs with my dad since before I could’ve walked. My whole life has been watching my dad lay asphalt and produce asphalt,” Dean said.

Elizabeth Dean credits growing up around all of this with a fulfilling career. Now, she encourages all young people to look into fields such as these.

“If you look and see how it’s mostly men out here, don’t let that effect any of your decisions. I mean, I’m out here everyday.  If you learn it properly, you can do anything. You can do anything that you want, no matter if its a predominantly male field or a predominantly female field.” 

Elizabeth Dean, Paver Operator

Dean says despite the COVID-19 pandemic setting things back for a lot of industries, this is the busiest time of year for pavers.

She and her crew have actually been contracted by the state. Thursday was the last day of their paving project.

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