My name is Tony Valdez IV. I’m an 11th grader at Cretin-Derham Hall Highschool, Located in Saint Paul, On Albert and Randolph in highland. I grew up within the Twin Cities, spending most of my childhood in South Saint Paul MN. I grew up in a medium sized family, consisting of three younger brothers, my mother, and my step-father. Ever since I was a child I have always loved working with my hands and doing things that required physical labor. I am an active member of the Boyscouts and I consider myself to be a pretty “outdoorsie” person, so to speak. I also enjoy using my head: ever since I was a child I have had a sharp mind and quick thinking abilities. Quickly piecing things together and figuring out puzzles is a gift of mine and I also really enjoy it!
In early October of 2014, I decided that I needed to get off my behind and get right with the world, and learn basic life skills which I realized I knew nothing about. When it came to things like banking, work schedules, work ethics, etc. I realized that I was totally stumped, and I figured, what better way then to go out and get a job. I started searching right away, days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and soon I was totally lost. Then all of a sudden my best friend told me about this apprenticeship that his dad had discovered, he told me that it was some type of boat building apprenticeship, and I immediately signed up. Building boats sounded like the perfect hobby for me. With the complex puzzle-like structures of the boats, and the hands-on labor for my gruff “out door” side, building boats was a great opportunity. Plus how many people can say that they build boats every week?
I went in for my interview and the place was very small, about 1,200 square feet. This may seem large but once you cram in all the tools, boats and not to mention apprentices it becomes a bit of a tight fit. The next month I started my apprenticeship. The place had moved to a new location before I started, a much MUCH bigger location. When I started I knew nothing about woodworking or boatbuilding at all. But now I can explain the different parts of the boat, different woods used as well as the tools used to make them, and it’s only been THREE MONTHS! Urban Boatbuilders has not only taught me the skills necessary to build a boat, but it also taught me things about myself, and about the real world I will soon be joining; things like work schedules, the importance of being on time and treating coworkers with respect and patience . I can confidently say that Urban Boatbuilders has some of the best and most patient teachers I’ve ever had, and thanks to them, I feel a little less confused about the big journey ahead of me.