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  • Writer's pictureRKPROST

Nikko Shaw enrolls at Summit three weeks after graduating high school

Carpentry Program Graduate

Society expects students to follow a traditional academic path—go to college after graduating high school. However, three weeks after Nikko Shaw '22 graduated high school, he enrolled in Summit Academy OIC’s Carpentry program to receive hands-on training that directly translated into a marketable skill.

“I was supposed to graduate high school in 2019, but I was moving. So, I had to bounce between schools. I got to the point where I got lazy and didn’t want to go back to school. I took a year off, and then COVID-19 hit,” said Shaw. “I’m 20 years old and still don’t have my high school diploma. I needed to change things up. I ended up going back to high school, getting my diploma.”

After Shaw graduated high school in 2021, his mother began inquiring about his next steps. Shaw’s brother had recently enrolled in Summit’s Information Technology program and told him about Summit’s Carpentry program. “It’s the 20-week program that caught my attention. I can do that. It’s easier than going back to school for four years,” said Shaw.

At first, Shaw struggled with learning the new material. “Coming in not knowing anything is hard. I didn’t know how to read a tape measurer or use a speed square,” said Shaw. “But, the teachers helped me through it and taught me what I needed to know and more to be ready for after Summit.” Shaw also appreciated the friendships and mentorships he gained by being surrounded by older adults he could talk to about life. As the weeks went by, Shaw became more comfortable with the carpentry fundamentals and developed his skills.

In fact, carpentry instructor, Beth Halverson, invited Shaw to participate in a two-week-long Steger Wilderness Center project in Ely, Minnesota. For over a decade, Summit students have traveled to the Steger Center, where they are exposed to cutting-edge environmental design and construction using recycled materials, powering all tools with solar, and utilizing energy-efficient construction best practices. “I learned a lot more at Steger than in the classroom. The people up there were really fun to work with. They showed us what it was like to be on a worksite. Just being outside and away from the city was fun,” said Shaw.

Currently, Shaw works as a carpenter at TL Home Concepts LLC. He looks forward to building upon the practices he learned at Summit and becoming more effective at his job. “I think about the outcome and future. I show up every day,” said Shaw. “I do what I need to do and learn what I need to learn. If you’re really trying to change your life, I’d say Summit would be the place to start.”

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