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Several Women Complete Build It! Carpentry Program

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Isylah Haynes and her family
Daniel O`Brien
Students receive certificates of completion from MTI's carpentry program in February 2022

Adult students in Minuteman Technical Institute's BuildIt! pre-apprentice carpentry program received certificates of completion on Feb. 22. Pictured here (back row, from left): Kelly Monteiro of Randolph, Sophia Garcia of Dorchester, Katus Brown of Medway, Kayla Raposo of Woburn, Alana Parkinson of Dorchester, Janelle March of Malden, Zherine Riley of Taunton, (front row) Isylah Haynes of Milton, and Kim Cooper of Dorchester. Not pictured is Christine Dunbar of Lowell.

LEXINGTON – Friday, March 4, 2022 – In an industry with fewer than 11 percent of female workers, a class of mostly women celebrated the completion of a 15-week carpentry program for adult students on Feb. 22 at Minuteman Technical Institute in Lexington – the adult learning division of Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School.

The students -- nine women and one man – signed symbolic letters of commitment to work in the carpentry and construction trades during a ceremony with their families. Currently, fewer than 11 percent of construction workers are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The program, “Build It!” was free for qualified applicants and funded with Career Technical Initiative grants through Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet. Students participated in classes on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Isylah Haynes and her family

Isylah Haynes of Milton (center) signs her certificate of completion in the company of her children Ani and Kaii and partner Deric Quest.

Isylah Haynes of Milton signed her certificate of commitment with her daughter and son, Ani and Kaii, twins age 11, and partner, Deric Quest, by her side, along with the support of her three other children, Raheed, 16, Najee, 26, and Kaysean, 28. She is currently fielding multiple offers of employment.

“I felt honored to sign my letter of commitment to the carpentry industry,” Haynes said. “As a Black woman in this brand new world of opportunity and financial freedom, I sat proudly amongst my sisters in the trades – my graduating classmates – and my hugely supportive family.”

Haynes said when she received her certificate she felt “strong” and “truly empowered.”

“I felt I had crossed over into this industry that never stops giving opportunities to learn and grow,” she said. “I felt like once again my life was evolving and I was full of gratitude.”

The other students were:

  • Katus Brown of Medway, who has accepted employment with Retail Construction Specialties (RCS).
  • Kim Cooper of Dorchester, who has accepted employment with Sweeney Drywall Finishes
  • Christine Dunbar of Lowell, who has accepted employment with OWI Contractors
  • Sophia Garcia of Dorchester, who has accepted employment with Chandler Architectural Products
  • Janelle Marsh of Malden, who has accepted employment with Finish Installations of New England
  • Kelly Monteiro of Randolph, who has accepted employment with Performance Contracting, Inc. (PCI)
  • Alana Parkinson of Dorchester, who has accepted employment with FINE Install
  • Kayla Raposo of Woburn, who has accepted employment with Sweeney Drywall Finishes
  • Zherine Riley of Taunton, who has accepted employment with Central Ceilings

The students completed the curriculum from North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund and earned five industry-recognized credentials, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Construction Safety credential. Minuteman works closely with and uses instructors from the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, which is based in Dorchester, and several local business partners, including Central Ceilings, Chandler Architectural Products, FINE: Finish Installation of New England, Gold Guard Installations, OWI Contractors, RCS, PCI, Sunrise Erectors, Sweeney Drywall Finishes Corporation, and T.J. McCartney Construction.

Minuteman Technical Institute has begun another 15-week Build It! adult carpentry program for the spring and will offer another course in September 2022 in collaboration with Commonwealth Corporation and the MassHire Career Centers. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information, visit or call 781-861-7151.