June 25, 2014
Fourteen students graduated Wednesday from University of Virginia’s Facilities Management Apprentice program, and many of them will work in departments throughout the university.
The students spent the past four years taking classes while also working full-time to learn their craft in fields like carpentry, plumbing and electricity. Supervisors for the apprentices said getting on the job training from professionals who've been in the field for many years in the best way to learn.
Colette Sheehy, UVa Vice President for Management and Budget says the program, which was the first of its kind, was created in 1982 as a way for the university to produce its own facilities management team.
"Many people don't think about going into the trades, and it's difficult to get skilled trades workers," said Sheehy.
One of this year's apprentices, Daisy Dejesus, is the first woman to graduate the program as a mason.
"I happened to be walking by a building one time and I looked up at the brick and said 'how does that happen? How does it come together?' and I wanted to learn," said Dejesus.
Dejesus took classes at CATEC, and said while the courses were a lot of hard work, the hardest part was overcoming her classmates opinions.
"Just everybody saying how a woman can't do a man's job," said Dejesus. "I learned how to do dry wall, masonry, historic masonry, new construction, everything."
During Wednesday's ceremony, a new batch apprentices were welcomed into the program. According to Sheehy, of the 600 applicants only 11 were selected.