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Kelly O'Keely Press Operator

Keely O’Kelley, Press Operator

It takes a lot to cross invisible lines in life—courage, dedication, hard work, and a belief in one’s self. Keely O’Kelley embodies these qualities. What’s more, she has done it exceptionally well.

It’s no secret that like so many mechanical lines of work, press operation tends to employ men more often than women. But that didn’t phase Keely. She is perfectly at ease being the only woman working this job for Superior Tape & Label.

Keely is a regular feature of the production floor, running the “B-2” press with precision and complete attention to detail. Although she earned her stripes in the spooling department, it became clear to everyone who worked with her that her focus and attention to detail had her earmarked for greater responsibility.

After an invite from management to the position, Keely spent two weeks in South Carolina learning the cutting-edge technologies and best practices of the business. But even on the national level, she was a bit of a unique addition to the all-male class.

"The school was interesting,” Keely said. “They gave us a lot of hands-on experience, and covered the basics of running the machine. I was the only female there. With my personality, I felt like I had a lot to prove."

Of course, that is not a new feeling for Keely. She has had to learn over a lifetime how to be at ease with machinery and being the only female in the mix. “My brothers and I spent a lot of time in my dad’s shop growing up,” she said. “I was always interested to see how things work.”

Outside of her life at STL, Miss O’Kelley enjoys spending time with Bella, her pit-dachshund mix, and watching T.V. with her boyfriend. “Bella has short, little legs—just like me,” says Keely. Short, little legs and all, Keely O’Kelley is proof that big things come in small packages.