Marion Ore – Solar Electrical Engineer, Peru to California

August 14, 2022

Marion Ore grew up in a small city in Peru, amidst the Andes Mountains, 11,000 feet  \above sea level. She was the youngest of five children born to a pair of hard-working parents, her mother a payroll assistant for an educational ministry and her father an instructor at a school for blind persons. 

Marion was around five years old when her parents separated. They offered their children the choice of who to live with, and each of Marion’s siblings joined their mother.  Marion, not wanting her father to be lonely, decided to reside with him. 

This choice at such a young age laid the foundation for her pension for engineering she would embrace later in life. Her father stored his tool kit in the living room, which she loved to play with and use to help fix things around the house. Her father was always working on something and “that was where my interest in electrical engineering was born,” she reflects. Marion would accompany him and learn what she could by both watching and doing. Her favorite tool was the soldering gun; she found great satisfaction in the ability to piece something together. 

Her time in the classroom was less fertile. Early on, she came to the conclusion she was not skilled in math and science and carried that belief with her through young adulthood. Her academic development, she now recognizes, was hindered by what she found to be an unengaging public education system. She wasn’t an avid studier, and at the time, she considered herself to be an average student, unaware of her potential without a challenging curriculum.  

Still, university was on her mind as she neared the end of high school. The admissions process was selective, with 13,000 prospects undertaking an exam to earn one of only  2,000 placements. Marion was admitted on her first try and studied Marketing at a  university in Lima, the capital city of Peru. Marion worked part-time while in school but could not sustain the balance for long and soon dropped out due to the high cost of tuition. 

Around that time, she embraced the Baháʼí Faith. Every year she would attend a  conference where a set of Baháʼí Counsellors, appointed by the Universal House 

of Justice, spoke on the importance of service in one’s life. Marion was inspired to make an impact in her community and decided to venture to Bolivia for a year of service. She extended her stay in the country and enrolled in Nur University, where she studied commercial engineering and began to realize she had a true talent for the sciences.

For the first time, she developed a genuine interest in academics. At Nur, in particular,  general requirements included courses on moral leadership and purpose, which spoke to her pull towards service as a source of meaning in her life. Her academics would soon take another pause as she followed this instinct to Nicaragua for a second year of service. Her friend at the time, and now husband, Lucho, encouraged her to go, having recognized the country received less support than that of Chile or Ecuador, which she was also considering. The Bahá’í Counsellor was a bit more concerned about the interruption in her education but ultimately supported her zealous desire to once again serve. 

The trips abroad were finite, and Marion continued to put thought into the next steps of her life. She had her list of goals: go back to Nur to finish her degree, to be followed by the third year of service. But then, Lucho asked her to marry him. After Marion finished her time in Nicaragua, the pair returned to Peru to receive permission from her parents to wed.  

Marion and Lucho found themselves with several years of service and a pair of incomplete degrees between them. When Lucho returned to school in Peru, he had difficulty transferring several years of credits towards a degree in agriculture he accumulated during his own time in Bolivia and Nicaragua. Meanwhile, Marion sought to gain entrance into a private university to study architecture – the admissions process involved a series of two tests, and before she could complete the process, she learned she was pregnant with her first child. 

The parents-to-be picked up and moved to the United States in advance of the baby’s arrival. They settled in Washington State and planned to stay for six months. During this time, Lucho finally found success in transferring his credits to the University of  Washington, and six months turned into a year, the amount of time needed to complete his degree. Marion enrolled in English courses to improve her fluency while expecting and then went on to earn her A.A. in Computer Science. One year quickly turned into two when they decided to work and save up before returning to Peru.  

And the years continued to pass without Peru in sight. The family of three next ventured to California, where the young parents explored degrees at the University of California,  Davis, Lucho going for his master’s and Marion, her bachelor’s. For Marion, credits from her associate degree were not transferable, and she retook courses at a local community college to gain eligibility for the undergraduate engineering program at UC  Davis. Her community college credits took four years to complete between 2004 and  2007, as she was raising her then four-year-old, with a second child on the way.

During her time at UC Davis, Marion’s commitment to service bled into her professional life; she volunteered at a company called Energy Efficiency Center, where she developed a particular passion for solar engineering. Here, she worked on a project to supply cost-effective and energy-efficient solar energy sources to low-income communities.  

Marion graduated UC Davis in 2010 with her B.S. in Electrical Engineering and entered into a scarce job market. Without extensive field experience in her industry, it was extremely challenging to get hired. Eventually, a year later, she landed a contract gig working in manufacturing engineering, where she tested components for remote aquatic vehicles utilized for undersea operations. 

The return to Peru continued to be tabled. Lucho was now eager to begin his Ph.D.  program and Marion was in need of a new job when her year-long contract ended. She quickly realized her experience still wasn’t up to industry standards. To combat this challenge, Marion identified specific roles she was interested in and examined various companies’ requirements for entry-level positions.  

From this, she tailor-built her professional experience, first by heading back to school.  She spent two years earning a NABCEP Certification (The North American Board of  Certified Energy Practitioners) as a solar energy practitioner. Marion further sculpted 

her expertise volunteering for Green Alternatives, where she installed solar panels for homes of low-income families.  

With two additional years of experience and the NABCEP Certification on her resume,  Marion has greater ease in her job search. She was quickly hired by SMA Solar, for whom she provided support for any issues that arose in the field. Her career in solar energy steadily progressed over the next several years. 

Across California, the solar industry was bountiful until then President Trump imposed tariffs on imported solar panels, which widely halted the development of new solar farms and created a significant spike in prices. Projects across the state were forced to downsize or shut down altogether, and layoffs became seemingly inescapable. Marion soon found herself without a job, which she now appreciates the timing of, as she was ready for a change in her life. She took off to Colombia for another year of service, this time with her children, sharing with them the sense of purpose and impact she wishes she’d been exposed to at a younger age.

Upon their return to the U.S., Marion dedicated her time to studying for her Professional  Engineering License, which would certify her proficiency in power systems regarding their design, safety, and impact, thus opening even more doors for employment. With this license, she would be a unique asset to companies with her ability to provide the final stamp of approval in ensuring their power systems met the standards of the  National Electrical Code. 

Marion didn’t have to look far for the next stage in her career. Former colleagues from  SMA Solar began their own company, Solar Support, and hired her for one year of contract work, which after great success, turned into a full-time position. Marion has found immense satisfaction working with her friends, who provide a supportive environment that values her work and her professional development.

Solar Support recognized Marion needed a greater challenge than the work at hand and granted her flexibility in her schedule to pursue a master’s degree in 2020. Marion is poised to graduate soon upon the completion of her final project. As for what she’ll do with this next level of expertise, she is open to the possibilities that come her way. 

Marion still dreams of a return to Peru, but for now, she is tied to the United States. “I don’t plan anymore; I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I just have to trust and rely on God,” she asserts with a sense of ease and comfort. 

The strength she has found in her faith has translated to the strength she has found within herself. This is what she hopes for her children as well – that they may nurture and share their talents through service so humanity may benefit. “We’re noble beings…I  think that aspect of knowing that you have this universe folded between you is kind of  something that the writings only could reveal.”