CPS grad forgoing scholarship money to continue training as a welder: ‘College isn’t for everyone’
Quintin Scott graduated Sunday from Chicago’s Crane Medical Prep High School with a head start to becoming a professional welder and a direct pipeline to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The two met in March during a trades job fair at McCormick Place, where Lightfoot passed her phone number to Scott and encouraged him to keep in touch.
Scott’s teacher, Robert Green, said he asked Scott to see those digits. “He said, ‘Oh no, Mr. Green, I can’t show you this number,’” Green recalled with a chuckle. “I said, ‘You’re a smart kid, man.’”
Scott has become the face of Chicago Builds, a two-year Chicago Public Schools construction training program for upperclassmen. He plans to forgo thousands of dollars in college scholarship offers to pursue a five-year apprenticeship program with Chicago Pipefitters Local 597. If he completes the program and becomes a journeyman, Scott could be making $54 an hour.
CPS anticipates 32 Chicago Builds students will graduate this year, with 26 entering trade employment or continuing their training. Those who have worked with Scott say he stands out among this group because of his maturity, work ethic and commitment to welding.
“He’s a rare individual. He’s dedicated. He’s motivated. I mean, he’s everything you want in a worker,” Local 597 Admissions Director Adam Sutter said.
Sutter said his colleagues told him, “You gotta get more kids like this out here.”
Chicago Builds dates back to 2016, when the Board of Education approved its launch at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. The program is meant to serve 120 students each school year, with half from Dunbar and half from outside the Bronzeville high school. The capital budget for the 2016-17 school year included $4.4 million for new labs and equipment for Chicago Builds, at the time called Chicago’s first comprehensive trade program.