Casillas Continues Bricklaying Legacy
Journal: Issue 1 - 2008
Just about everyone who knew Vanessa Casillas as a teenager also knew she was determined to carry on the family’s masonry tradition. With a bricklayer father and an uncle who is a member, it was only natural for Casillas to follow a similar path.
Determination is exactly what it took for Casillas, now a Local 56 Illinois apprentice bricklayer, to graduate from the Chicago Women in the Trades’ (CWIT) Technical Opportunities Program. The program gave her a good foundation. Not only did she earn the lasting respect and esteem of her CWIT instructors and peers, but she was ranked at the top of her pre-apprentice class at the Illinois District Council #1 Training Center.
Her superb craft skills were rigorously tested at three apprentice competitions in 2007, beginning with a 2nd place showing at the District Council’s Contest followed by 3rd place at the North Central Regional Contest. Her stellar performance at the Regional level earned her a chance to compete at the 2007 International Apprentice Contest in September of last year.
For Casillas, the opportunity to compete at the new International Training Center in Maryland was a dream come true. According to Local 56 IL Business Manager Tim Aikens, “She represented our Local extremely well – she’s a great worker, extremely focused, and we’re all proud of her.”
The same determination Casillas displayed in preparing to enter the trade was also evident in her efforts to secure employment. Leaving nothing to chance, after carefully researching bricklaying contractors and conducting a targeted job search, she went to work for J. & E. Duff, Inc., Mason Contractors in West Chicago, her first choice.
Sister Casillas continues to participate in CWIT’s youth and adult programs as a mentor, just one more indication, said Aikens, that she’s “committed to giving back what she’s gained” from a career path that is bringing her great fulfillment.