Dads can be great role models, even if they aren’t trying to be one. Health Sciences District electrician Juli Segerstrom chose her trade because she needed to make money and her best role model for that was her electrician father.
“It was probably just because he was dad,” remembered Segerstrom. “If he had been a plumber I probably would have turned out to be a plumber. He never encouraged me or anything, but he made a decent living.”
The Austin, Minn., native grew up in Fridley and studied art history at the U for a while after high school. She drove a school bus for six years in order to pay for college. Several years in she couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and decided to leave the U to become an electrician, like her dad.
After completing her training at Anoka Tech, Segerstrom continued driving her school bus for a year and a half before she was finally accepted into the union. In 2013, she’ll celebrate 30 years in the trade.
Segerstrom spent a decade working mostly in construction before landing at the U in 1994. She left to work in the private sector in 1998, but came back a year later. Working in the private sector convinced her to stay at the U.
“When I got here I was like, ‘Yay! It’s air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter,’” remembered Segerestrom. “You’re here long term, so it’s more of a secure job for us than we have out there. Out there you can be on a job for two months or six months and you get laid off a lot.”
Segerstrom drives an hour each way from Hager City, Wisconsin, to the U each day. She used to make the drive with her husband, Bruce, who worked on the U’s high voltage crew until three years ago.
The couple met as members of the electrician’s union 11 years before they got married in 2009. They got to know each other better once Bruce came to the U. One of their passions is camping. They own a travel trailer and like to travel around Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Boating is another activity they enjoy, especially since they live on one of the Mississippi River’s back channels.
Segerstrom has four children, including Joel, 30, who lives in Minneapolis and owns Stadium Pizza; Michelle, 25, who married a serviceman and is going to nursing school in Hawaii; Jessica, 21, who is pre-med at the U, but studying abroad in Italy this semester; and Michael, 11, who lives at home.
Segerstrom says she has been treated very well over the years by her fellow electricians, the majority of which are men.
“I’m the most spoiled lady electrician in the world,” said Sergerstrom. “People have looked out for me so much. Over the years you feel like people are part of your family.”
And family is where her passion for the electrician’s trade began. Segerstrom recently found a little piece of paper from when she was a school girl that detailed what she wanted to be when she grew up. What was at the top of the list? Electrician.