First generation American hopes to build legacy with Black Hawk program

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MOLINE - Construction sites are massive and intimidating.  Now, a program at Black Hawk College aims to make them inspiring and welcoming.

The Moline campus is hosting a free 13-week program to bring more workplace diversity to Illinois projects.  The session, which begins on August 14, is especially reaching out to women, minorities and the disadvantaged.

"My dad told me that we're the first Vietnamese family in the Quad Cities," said Joel Dang, 20, on Tuesday, July 11.

The first generation American juggles two part-time jobs.  But the 2015 Moline High graduate may find his future in a construction career.

"I thought it would be perfect for me," he continued.

Perfect because the Illinois Department of Transportation wants to improve workplace diversity.

"There's some people who haven't really considered that it could be a possibility for them," said Program Manager Paul Fessler.  "Part of what we're doing is opening that door."

Fessler is hosting a few more recruitment sessions.  Check to learn about enrolling.

At construction sites, trade unions are looking to fill positions.  In some cases, nearly a third of its workforce will retire in the near future.

"Different people bring different skill sets, and I think it all helps the whole team," Fessler continued.

For applicants like Joel Dang, construction sites represent a world of opportunities.  For him, opportunities to build a lasting career.

The satisfaction of building a street or something else can also create a personal legacy.

"In 20 years, hopefully, I'll have kids and grand kids," he said.  "I want to tell them, I made this, right there.  This building right here, I made it."

It represents the American Dream for a family that's striving to succeed.