Workforce Wednesday: Cesar Mejia builds skills for a career while building homes

After graduating high school in Indiana, Cesar Mejia moved to West Michigan to be closer to family.

“I had taken some construction classes in high school and my cousins knew that I was interested in it,” he said. “They suggested that I look into GRCC. When I saw how this program is set up I thought ‘Wow! that’s cool’ it’s onsite and hands-on, so I signed up!”

The GRCC Residential Construction Job Training program takes place on a construction site, where students build a new home. Students get hands-on lessons and application about the entire process of residential building including blueprint reading, site layout, concrete, carpentry, door and window installation, roofing, siding, and interior finishing.

“I’m more of a hands-on learner,” he said. “I’ve never seen any other program like it. I love that we build homes that people are really going to live in.”

Mejia also works full time third shift before heading to the job site. “It’s a long day but it’s worth it.”

Graduates are qualified for employment in the residential construction industry. The program focuses on constructing homes that achieve a 5-Star Energy rating, are Michigan Green Built, and LEED Certified.

Mejia gets lots of gratification from seeing the finished product.

“We have built this house from the ground up,” he said. “There was nothing here and now a there is a whole house. It’s very satisfying. I want to build homes, I love it.”

Mejia has also built relationships that will last a lifetime.

“At first, I was nervous about the teacher but Kyle (Lackscheide) is the greatest, so wonderful. Honestly, I love the guy. He doesn’t feel like a teacher. He is really a friend. He has taught me so much.”

All of the GRCC Job Training programs has small class size, no more than 16 students.

“After you get to know the other students they become friends. Some of the guys are like brothers to me. I came here not knowing anyone but my family and now I made all of these friends.”

Mejia is excited about his future. “I will be going into this field knowing as much as I can.”

He is confident that he has the skills for the job. “This program has taught me siding, roofing, framing, I have learned so much.”

GRCC offers two 18 week Job Training Certificate programs in the field of Construction; Residential Construction, and Construction Electrical.

New sessions of GRCC Job Training programs begin throughout the year. The next session begins January 23, 2023. For more information go to grcc.edu/jobtraining.

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