Stories From Apprentices

Alex Horianopolous
Alex H. has plans to become a psychologist and is currently attending CPCC to obtain his Associate’s degree before transferring to a full program at a four-year university. However, when he saw the description of P.A.C.E. online, his interest was piqued. “I was interested in learning different trades, getting paid to learn, and I liked that no experience was needed. I did not feel any pressure when I started.” During the ten-week program, Alex completed on-the-job rotations with four Charlotte-area companies, in addition to receiving safety certifications and completing build projects during the intensive construction bootcamp. Completing the program has given Alex a new appreciation of the workers around him and the technique needed in their daily work, while also helping him think beyond a psychology degree. P.A.C.E. “widened my choices in terms of a career. Just looking around, there is so much . . . and it is satisfying to see work you completed, to say, ‘I did that’.”

Daniel Rodriguez
After graduating from law school, Dan worked in the public defender’s office in Fayetteville, AR hoping to make a difference in people’s lives. However, he quickly learned that a legal career was not what would make him happy. As someone who always enjoyed building and creating, he wanted a career that would mesh that creativity with learning: a practical application of his creative talent. He is especially interested in general contractor, attracted to both the idea of knowing a little bit of everything and to the possibility of one day owning his own business. “I feel lifted up by this program, and I would like to lift up the people around me, as well.”

Dan found the P.A.C.E. program while searching for construction-based work online. Though he found several positions that claimed, “No experience necessary”, no company was willing to give him a chance. P.A.C.E. stood out as a unique opportunity to prepare him for the field in a way that no other program was willing to do. He appreciates that it provides the opportunity to prove yourself in a risk-free environment, to show potential employers that he is someone they can take a chance on. “I am staggered that a program like this exists. I would still be looking for a job if it didn’t.”

When asked what he likes best about P.A.C.E, Dan admitted it is difficult to choose one thing. He enjoyed learning how to hang drywall with no risk, but mostly he has enjoyed working with the instructors and other students. “Everybody is so different, and no one has the same story. The practical experience is amazing, but the best part is definitely the people.”

Janna Mam
Janna has mainly worked in retail since graduating from Garinger High School in 2016. Despite having some management experience, she was ready to learn something new and pursue skills that would lead to a career. She enjoys using her hands though never had the opportunity to use power tools at home. “My dad didn’t let me handle them because they were too ‘manly’.”

She chose P.A.C.E. because she has no experience in the construction industry and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire some training before committing to a specific trade. She has enjoyed meeting the other P.A.C.E. students and gaining a better understanding of how things work. She especially enjoyed the projects completed at the academy. “Building the bench hurt my knees, but it was worth it!”

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