In 1974 Pat McDonald and her husband and three young children moved from San Bruno to Newark. Pat needed to stay at home with her children but also needed an additional income coming in, so she set up a home day care service business.
She believes she started taking classes at Ohlone in 1976 and remembers taking a Consumer Family Science course via the college’s “radio courses” program. Students listened to lecture broadcast on the college’s radio station and came to the library to pass in work and take exams. These precursors to the college’s online courses helped Pat begin her college experience while still spending time at home. Eventually Pat took classes on campus, every so often as her schedule allowed. She was content with being an occasional part-time student.
In the late 1980s her husband, a truck driver, began taking classes at Ohlone on a full-time basis. He graduated in 1990 with an Associate Degree in Computer Studies, which led to long career with IBM. By this time Pat was working full-time at a local Newark-based trucking business. She had been engaged in a variety of roles including bookkeeper, dispatcher, working on the loading dock, and even driving a truck from time to time. She was also a cancer survivor.
When her husband graduated in 1990, it was Pat’s turn to become a full-time student, although she still needed to work her full-time job. In 1992 she graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Administration, at the age of 45. She was quite shocked when she was informed she would be the Valedictorian. “I was not even sure what the word meant,” Pat says thinking back.
After graduation, Pat continued working in the trucking business concentrating on hauling rock and other aggregate material for the construction industry. In 1994 she and a partner formed their own business, STI Trucking, doing the same type of hauling. After a couple of years, her partner left the business and Pat became the sole owner in this male dominated industry. Initially STI operated out of San Jose and then for a while in Morgan Hill. Finally the company settled in Newark.
STI owns several its own trucks and a number of trailers; and also serves as a broker between independent owner-operators and construction firms, most of which are involved in grading and paving construction projects. It has been a family-run business with both her sons working for her for a time. Her daughter still handles a great deal of the administration and her daughter-in-law serves as dispatcher. One of her sons still works part-time for the company.
For years Pat was very involved in the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). She holds numerous professional certifications earned through NAWIC’s education program. She also served in various capacities within NAWIC, including being a board member and serving as the National President in 2008-09.
Pat says her experience at Ohlone, first as a part-time student and then being full-time student while working full-time, taught her perseverance. Her education and service with NAWIC taught her leadership. Both perseverance and leadership have been most beneficial in her business career.
Although Pat now lives in Santa Cruz, she is still involved in the running of STI, but is able to leave a lot of the duties to her daughter and daughter-in-law. This leaves her time for a number of passions including being a grandmother to five grandkids, ballroom dancing, square dancing, reading, and gardening.