“Veterans offer employers extremely
valuable mechanical, analytical,
troubleshooting and interpersonal
skills, such as team work, collaboration
and conflict resolution,” says Smith,
who plans to start her own business.
“Working with your hands, problem
solving, and learning to be patient with
yourself, while creating something
that’s useful, can also be cathartic.”
An immigrant in carpentry
When Diego Rojas immigrated to the
United States from the Dominican
Republic at age 12 with his mother and
siblings, his world turned upside down.
It wasn’t until he interned for the National Park Service through Boston’s
Madison Park Technical Vocational
High School that he felt he found his
place among craftsmen. His success led
him to apply to North Bennet Street.
In 2016, Rojas started his post-secondary education in Carpentry. He
went on with Preservation Carpentry.
“When I graduate, I will miss the
passionate and supportive environ-
ment of North Bennet Street School
the most,” says Rojas. “The opportunity
to go here on a full-ride scholarship
has afforded me a better life – a way to
support my family with a sense of pur-
pose. For that, I am forever grateful.”
Roja’s time at North Bennet Street
School was made possible by a Work-
force Development Scholarship, which
has been critical to funding his educa-
tion. The School offers a variety of
financial aid tools like this to students
every year, and significantly, just froze
tuition at current levels for the next
three years. By 2022, North Bennet
Street School aims to award $1 million
in funding to make trades education
more accessible to all.
On a visit to North Bennet Street
School’s current 64,000-square-foot
facility, you can’t help but notice the
expansive natural lighting, hands-on
collegial atmosphere and attention to
detail. Whether it is one student carefully mitering delicate mullions for a
window frame or another shaving hair-thin pieces to craft a violin back, the
intensity of concentration is apparent.
And the results are simply stunning.
Finished work on display in the gallery
from current students and alumni
represents some of the highest level of
hand craftsmanship in North America.
But one has to ask if that is an anach-
ronism in the 21st century. North Ben-
net Street School thinks not.
Since 1990, college tuition is up
more than 300 percent. Today, the av-
erage student debt for a bachelor’s de-
gree is more than $37,000. Meanwhile,
the U.S. Department of Education
reports that there will be 68 percent
more job openings in trade related
jobs in the next five years than there
are people trained to fill them.
“Working with one’s hands pro-
motes mindfulness, offers job secu-
rity, and provides a sense of personal
accomplishment,” says Sarah Turner,
North Bennet Street School President.
“This prospect of skilled careers, at
a time when four-year college debt is
crushing, is worth considering. Path-
ways to meaningful lives do not have to
come at an extreme cost.”
To learn more about North Bennet
Street School, visit www.nbss.edu. ✚
North Bennet Street School was founded in 1881 to train immigrants for hand work in
Boston’s factories. Today, training immigrants like Diego Rojas, who came to Boston from the
Dominican Republic when he was 12, is still part of the school’s mission.