Tools of Engagement November 2021

First-Person Perspective: What Apprenticeship Means to One Recent Graduate

By Stephanie Staub and Maurice Osborne

The year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is celebrated November 15 – 21. It’s a time for building trades across the country, including glaziers, to showcase their crafts through open houses and events geared toward raising awareness of the benefits of apprenticeship.

Maurice Osborne is a recent apprentice journeyperson graduate of the Finishing Trades Institute-Mid-Atlantic Region (FTIMAR). He was selected among his class of 36 apprentice glaziers to speak on their behalf at the graduation. In recognition of NAW, he agreed to share those words here.

In His Own Words

“Some will say it’s been a long, hard journey. Some others will probably tell you that time [has] flown by. But, regardless, we made it. We made it here together. That first day in the academy I wasn’t really sure what I was walking into or what to expect. You walk into a room full of strangers, but by the end of that week you know you have found something. You see, during that week we worked together; we worked on projects, we laughed, and we told stories. We shared.

While thinking about what I wanted to say, a certain movie kept coming to mind: New Jack City. I’m sure everyone has seen the movie with Wesley Snipes. In it, a member of the group could call upon any other member of the group at any time and ask, ‘Am I my brothers’ keeper?’ And the only answer is, ‘Yes I am.’ What’s being asked is, am I responsible for my brothers’ safety, well-being or even sanity at times. The answer is yes, because we have each other’s backs in all things. That’s the way I feel about every person who was in my class. And that’s the kind of mentality I try to bring to the workplace every day. I challenge you to try and do the same. It’s not always easy—especially on those long, hard days when it’s cold … when you can barely feel your hands, they are so numb. But you know you’re going to need one of them to smack the guy next to you who [won’t stop talking] {laughter}. You know what I mean, you’ve all been there. But instead, you make sure he has his PPE on. You make sure he’s tied off. You make sure he has lunch that day. You make sure his shoes don’t have holes in them … because you never really know. When you know that a brother or sister is on the bench for a few months, you call. That person may not need anything; they may just be appreciative that you checked on them. Or they could be desperate, and you may be that one voice that made it [a priority] to call.

That is why we are here and that is what makes us special. As long as you are here you can be sure there are thousands who have your back. As long as you are with us, you are never alone in this world. I’m going to say that one more time: you are never alone in the world! So be proud. I’m proud to be one of you. Any time, any place, anywhere you ask me ‘Am I my brothers’ keeper?’ My answer is always going to be ‘Yes I am!’

Stephanie Staub is the director of marketing for the Architectural Glass Institute in Philadelphia. She can be reached at stephanie@theagi.org.

Maurice Osborne is an apprentice journeyperson graduate of the FTI-MAR.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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