Elizabeth Cleckley: Apprentice Winner 05
By Joyce Greer
The Masonry Institute, coupled with the MCAA, Mason Contractor's Association recently held their annual apprenticeship competition on Saturday, October 8, 2005. The fine people at Betco/Oldcastle in Gainesville, Va. graciously provided their facility and materials for the event, and then served a lunch to all the participants.
This year the event had 24 apprentices participate in various stages of their apprenticeship, that being 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year.
This article is about one specific participant. Let me first introduce "her", yes I said "her" as a very focused, dedicated and determined young lady.
Trust me this will be but one article in her future of successes.
Her name is Elizabeth Cleckley, she is eighteen years old and she won 1st place in the first year apprenticeship category. She performed her project to the exact specifications required and in record time. She also performed the task with 11 stitches in her hand from slicing it open on the job while cutting flashing earlier in the week.
Elizabeth is currently employed by Baltimore Masonry and her boss Victor Campetelli and her former Vo Tech instructor Mr. Hoover were there to cheer her on. We were all impressed with her abilities, but her personality really sparked an added interest in getting to know this driven young lady better.
I had a chance to interview her for this article and would like to share with our association members and the architectural community and associates we distribute our BB&T to a little closer look at some of the talent we have available to us for the future.
When I asked her how she got interested in masonry, she stated that she had always had a desire to see the results for her labor and that interest was sparked and developed by a program offered to her in the 9th grade. It was an after school program where she was shown many opportunities for the trades. She immediately chose the construction trades for the reason stated above; she thought it was fun to be able to see results from the processes involved. She continued her participation in these programs until 11th grade where she was introduced to a teacher named Mr. Hoover. This instructor mentored, encouraged, befriended many of the students, in her words he was awesome and helped her greatly throughout her Vo Tech training. He encouraged her to enter a team competition whereby she was teamed with a bricklayer, plumber, electrical and carpentry students. She stated they didn't place in the competition, but the experience of seeing how all the trades needed to work together was good enough for the team. An other side of this story is how proud Mr. Hoover is of her. As I stated earlier, he was there at the apprenticeship competition cheering her on and stated to me that she was one of the best students he had ever had the pleasure of teaching.
Now that she has joined the union bricklaying apprenticeship program she goes back to her Vo Tech center on rainy days sometimes to visit instructors and encourage others in the program.
If you haven't guessed by now, this young lady is going to make it in any capacity she chooses. She has the support of her family and her boyfriend, who is also an apprentice in the third year of his training.
Her career working on jobsite with Baltimore Masonry has included the Spinnaker Bay project, an 18 story condo, where she said when she started they were on the 3rd floor now she rides by and it is completed and she feels a real sense of pride that she got to work on that project and see it completed. She stated she has been treated very fairly on the jobsites and the foremen have been very willing to help her learn the correct methods of her masonry trade. I am sure this is because she is a hard worker and shows to be genuine in wanting to do the best she can.
She is now working on a Forensics Lab being built in Md. I have to tell you, this young lady is an inspiration to me. I hear so many people say, we can't get young people interested in the trades; well she is a fine example of how a good program and a dedicated instructor can hold promise for the future of our industry. Now if we could just "Clone" that instructor. We need more retiring masons to maybe impart some of their knowledge and experience with those young people who really need a direction to be encouraged to explore.
I know one thing Elizabeth will represent her first year apprentices in Las Vegas next year in March @ MCAA's Showcase and she will be a big hit and continue to make us all proud of her accomplishments!
YOU GO GIRL!!
About the Author
Joyce Greer is the Executive Director of the Masonry Institute of Virginia.