The best coworker to them is each other, twin sister engineers at Caltrans District 1

Left, Talitha Hodgson with her twin sister and coworker, Valency Fitzgerald.

Local twin sisters Valency Fitzgerald and Talitha Hodgson grew up having strong math skills and watching their family work in construction, they say that is where their interest in engineering began. They went from College of the Redwoods to UC Davis together. They initially went to college to study architecture and after taking one course, they realized they wanted to become engineers.

“I have to say that having a twin sister in the same career, it’s been really great,” said Fitzgerald, the Office Chief of Programming and Asset Management at Caltrans District 1. “To have that person you can call and we work together so well it’s really awesome to be able to call that person and go hey what do you think.” 

During summer college breaks, the twins interned at Caltrans District 1, where they now work full-time. At some point in their early careers, they had a crossover in their work. When the San Francisco Bay experienced a sinkhole, Fitzgerald knew to call her sister for drainage data. 

They say it’s an amazing experience to be an engineer, especially when they see their functional designs in person.

“In some of the local projects that have been built by us or designed by us, I have a roundabout at 20 and 29 in Lake County,” Fitzgerald said. “You see that roundabout, that intersection that’s mine.”

“Yeah and I designed the confusion hill realignment and a couple of the walls that you drive by and never see below the roadway,” said Hodgson, the Office Chief of Advanced Planning and Local Assistance. “Did a lot of response to emergency work that is you know a lot of what we do behind the scenes and for engineering we’re designing those things.”

They were often the only women in their construction sites, but with their “go get it” attitudes, they never felt different. They both encourage more women to become engineers.

“Here in Eureka, we get to build cool things,” Fitzgerald said. 

“Fernbridge’s coming up,” Hodgson said. “That’ll be a very exciting project that we’re working with the community right now on”

Hodgson feels like she learns from the young generations when it comes to equality in the workforce because it wasn’t as easy to speak up when her career was just starting. Fitzgerald shares her story to connect with and encourage other women engineers.

Only 20% of the workers in Caltrans District 1 are women. That is the district that serves our area.