Just six months after graduating from Dyett High School, 19-year-old Lonishia Coleman can already add a college certificate to her resume. As a recent alumna of Kennedy-King College’s Basic Certificate Program in Construction Carpentry, which is housed at Dawson Technical Institute, she’s built the skills she needs to start a career in carpentry—and she’s ready to lay the foundation for her future.
For Lonishia, the ultimate goal is a union job, which is why she was excited when City Colleges and the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council announced a new partnership to help students move into union apprenticeships faster. Through the partnership, students at Dawson Tech are able to apply the college credits they’ve earned towards their pre-apprenticeship with the union, and current journeymen can apply their training and experience towards a college degree.
“I know that joining the union would beneficial for both me and my family,” Lonishia said.
She plans to apply for the union apprenticeship next year, once she’s gained additional work experience in the industry. In just a few weeks, she’ll start a short-term apprenticeship in carpentry and flooring—an opportunity she was connected to through Dean Kenyon Douglass, who leads instruction and workforce equity programming at Dawson Tech.
“Instead of just leaving this program and having to find our own ways, there are actually people here that can guide us into the jobs we want,” Lonishia said about the support she received from Douglass.
And while Lonishia has been interested in construction since she was young, the extra support has made a big difference. Growing up, Lonishia always wanted to help her dad build things, but she didn’t know she could make a career out of it. So, in high school, when Dyett seniors took a trip to Dawson Tech to explore the campus and its programs, she was excited to see the school offered pathways in construction.
“When I first saw it here, I just knew,” she said. “But actually starting the program helped me gain skills and learn things that really matter in this industry.”
Lonishia’s not the only one that’s excited about those skills. Even with her new certificate, she said she’s still happy to spend time helping her dad build things around the house.