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Roseville High School Graduate Finds Stability with Career in Construction

By: Amanda Pedersen

When you move around a lot as a kid, you grow up learning to adapt quickly to your new environment and, you learn to value stability.

While Decidecio “Deci” Nunez, 19, has moved around a lot — eight schools since his 5th grade — he doesn’t let that stifle him. He is proud of his ability to adapt to new environments. He looks at his unique upbringing positively because he was constantly able to learn and try new things.

“One of the things I’m proud of is learning the transportation system in the Twin Cities, so I could get myself to school and succeed,” Nunez said.

Nunez is passionate about music. He enjoys most genres but rock, metal and rap music are his favorite. (Photo Credit: Emily Sweeney)

Another decision that Nunez is proud of is his choice to participate in the Minnesota Trades Academy.

A recent graduate from Roseville Area High School, a suburb located north of downtown St. Paul, Nunez learned about the Minnesota Trades Academy Track II internship through the schools’ Career Life Transition (CLT) program prior to his graduation.

The Career Life Transition program is a community-based initiative between the Mounds View and Roseville Public Schools that assists young adults in preparing for the future.

The Minnesota Trades Academy offers two different tracks for students to learn about the construction trades through hands-on experience. Track I is a six-week introduction to construction career opportunities. Youth who participate in Track I can move onto Track II, a nine-week trade specialization course. The completion of both tracks can set a student up to launch a career in the construction industry, beginning with a registered apprenticeship with a Minnesota building trades union for those who are 18 and have earned a high school diploma or GED.

Introduction to Construction

Nunez had taken a woodshop class during his last two years at Roseville High School, which sparked his interest in the Minnesota Trades Academy.

“We built a shed in the back of our high school, which I enjoyed. But, I struggled when it came to building cabinets,” Nunez said. “I still knew I had a lot of skills to practice.”

“When I was little, I didn’t think about construction as a job, although I did love construction machines. I always wanted to be an astronaut or do something in space,” Nunez said. “But dad was a carpenter, so I got to see construction sites when I was younger because of his work.”

Growing up, Nunez participated in tribal camps; his mother is a member of the Menominee Tribe of the Oneida Nations of Wisconsin. He also toured many state parks, and played football for Roseville High School. Enjoying spending time outdoors and being active, Nunez was interested in spending the summer moving around and being outside.

Nunez knew that college was not for him.

“Taking on debt also is a huge concern. I don’t want to get into the situation of paying back student loans. I know how stressful it can be because my aunt is working to become a doctor, which requires a significant amount of schooling and money,” Nunez said.

“Being in a classroom is not something I really enjoy anyway,” he added. “I can’t sit and do lecture style stuff. I’d rather be outside or having someone show me how to do something. I didn’t like school, but I knew I had to get my diploma. So I focused and worked hard to get through it.”

While participating in the Minnesota Trades Academy, interns get hands-on training to learn construction skills, something that Nunez was seeking. The interns visit up to 16 different apprenticeship-training centers where they receive training and supervision from construction professionals.

“We went to a lot of different sites this summer,” said Nunez. “Being able to tour construction sites and apprenticeship training centers was cool because it was all hands-on and I could see it right in front of me.”

For Nunez, his favorite site visit was to Local 49, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), who operate heavy machinery at construction sites, such as bulldozers, scrapers, and cranes.

“I liked seeing all the machines and learning what skills I would need to operate them,” Nunez said.

In addition, during the paid weekly internship, the interns constructed mini projects and tried out numerous aspects of the construction process to help them learn about construction, to see if they would like it or not.

“We worked on stools, which we built with wood and a few tools in the shop. I also created a metal bucket,” said Nunez. “If someone shows me how to do something, I can learn it very fast and I’ll remember how to do it again.”

Construction Funds Passion

Besides being outdoors, Nunez also has a passion for listening to, and making, music. He is currently teaching himself how to play the drums and his favorite bands are Tool, Slipknot, and Mudslide.

“I love music a lot. It’s something I would love to do as a career,” said Nunez. “But if I can’t do it for a career, I want to be able to have a job where I can buy new equipment and practice music.”

After Nunez’s time with the Minnesota Trades Academy, he knows that working in construction could help support his passion for music.

“This program definitely made me consider doing construction as a job in the future,” said Nunez. “I would like to pursue a job as a plumber or an electrician because I would be able to interact with customers everyday.”

Interested in a career in construction?

“Apply for the Minnesota Trades Academy, try it out and see what you like. Just keep testing out careers and find what you are passionate about,” Nunez said.

See how a Minnesota Trades Academy internship can help you reach your goals. To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy visit ConstructionCareers.org.