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MonyaMarie Black – Central Technology Center

She may be little, but this construction trades student plans to make a BIG impact.

THEN: A 64-year-old retired woman from New York. Before retirement, MonyaMarie Black was a self-taught furniture builder who used her carpentry skills to teach low-income women how to build furniture in their apartments. When it was time to retire, she followed a friend's intuition and left the big city. She and a group of families headed west, and MonyaMarie wound up in Oklahoma.

Two years into her retirement, she decided she wasn’t ready to hang up her hammer. She enrolled in the two-year construction trades class at Central Technology Center. At Central Tech she said she

  • Learned the basics of construction trades, and "how to do it right."
  • Learned about OSHA and construction safety.
  • Was part of a team that built a house from the ground up.

“It’s been a great experience to learn from professionals, and I like how hands-on it is,” she said.

MonyaMarie spends her days at Central Tech working alongside high school students.

“They’re very respectful and very helpful,” she said, “but they also let me do the work – even though I may have to waddle to do it because the tool belt weighs more than me!”

NOW: MonyaMarie still has another year in the program, but when she finishes, she said, she wants to make an impact on her surroundings.

“There are a lot of houses that can be fixed up here,” she said. “While I’m at Central Tech I would love to come up with a program where we’re not just building one house, but actually have many construction projects around the community.”

Eventually, MonyaMarie plans to build houses for prison detention officers in Jamaica.

"My ultimate goal is to relocate to Jamaica and work with the underserved population there." 

MonyaMarie Black, construction trades student

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