My name is Katrina, and I’m currently living in Oakland, California! I use she/her pronouns.
I attended UBI for the QBP Scholarship in February 2019. This was my first time applying for the scholarship, and I’m so grateful to have received it.
There were so many skills and knowledge that I learned while at UBI, and I especially loved learning how to build my own wheels! However, what really made my time at UBI so special were the people and learning environment we created. Learning is inherently vulnerable and challenging, and I was absorbing a lot of new information every day. It really helped to have a group of people and instructors beside me who were willing to slow down, geek out, and figure things out together.
“Learning is inherently vulnerable and challenging…
It really helped to have a group of people and instructors
beside me who were willing to slow down, geek out,
and figure things out together.”
We would go home at the end of every day, open up our manuals, and sit at the dining room table to talk about bikes and life. I felt like we were really able to honor and support our own learning process, as well as everyone else’s, by removing the pressure to perform or know the right answer all the time. As I listened to everyone’s unfiltered experiences within the cycling industry, it helped me recognize the collective power we have to bring about change in an industry that has not felt safe for many groups.
“This scholarship is so important because it brings
underrepresented folks together and gives truth and power
to our voices, and gives me hope that change is coming.”
I have never worked in a professional capacity at a bike shop or as a mechanic! Before attending UBI, I was a volunteer at the SF Bike kitchen and would shadow or ask mechanics questions as I swept the floor or cut spokes for recycling. While UBI equipped me with the skills and knowledge to work as a mechanic, I was fortunate enough to start working at Paragon Machine Works shortly after the scholarship. The way it all unfolded was quite serendipitous—I was actively looking for a job in the cycling industry, and as a Welding and Machining student at Laney College, received a job posting from an instructor about an opening at PMW. At first the role had been filled before I could interview, but a few weeks later while in Ashland, I got the news that there was still an opportunity! It was really neat to talk with Ron about PMW while at UBI, then Mark about UBI while at PMW. I am now working as a CNC Mill Machinist. I start with bar stock (usually Aluminum, Steel, or Titanium), then setup and operate the machines to produce the part— a lot of dropouts usually!
This is a very difficult question… If you asked me a year ago, I would have answered welding without hesitation. The longer I work at a machine shop, however, the more I appreciate the precision, creativity, and ritual to it. But welding is also SO much fun and I love the flow. So, I guess I’ll have to say that I love them both. I don’t think I have a favorite part of the bicycle yet… but interestingly I really enjoy making cable stops! They come out of the machine with a thin piece of metal holding them together, so they look like a cute baby string of Christmas light cable stops.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey into fabrication is
to let my curiosity guide me.”
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey into fabrication is to let my curiosity guide me. Machining and welding are fields that are predominantly male, and it can be difficult to not feel like an imposter. When I lean into my curiosity, I care less about whether I am perceived as capable, weak, smart, or competent, and can maintain the sense of wonder and amazement that drew me into this field in the first place.
I could see myself going in a lot of different directions in my career. The QBP Bike Mechanic scholarship helped me build a really strong foundation in bike mechanics that I will be able to leverage whatever direction I end up taking. Once I complete my degrees in Welding and Machining, I plan to take a frame building class and hopefully start building some frames! I’m also considering pursuing a Masters in Mechanical Engineering or Materials Science, but also feel really strongly about social justice and education. All I know is that if I’m working with my hands, shredding metal, and working with youth, I’ll be very, very happy.
“Keep doing the work, and stay true to your path!
Based on the quality of people in my
QBP scholarship class, it will not go unnoticed.”
See the post that Paragon Machine Works did about her here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxyFYpflIX-/?hl=en