Christina Andrade Followed in Her Husband’s Footsteps to Thrive as a Construction Ready Graduate

Of the more than 1,200 Construction Ready graduates CEFGA has placed into full-time employment, many have come to the program through word-of-mouth connections. In Christina Andrade’s case, the connection was in her own home.

Christina is married to Jose Vera, a 2018 graduate of Construction Ready at Westside Works and an employee of C.W. Matthews Contracting Company. Having seen him succeed (read Jose’s story here), she was ready to try something new and enrolled in the program in late 2019. She graduated that December and went to work soon thereafter for Envision Construction Services.

Construction Ready’s impact on the Cobb County couple has been profound.

“When Jose first went through the program, we were pretty much homeless – we were staying with my mom,” Christina recalls. “When he got out of the program, he got hired with C.W. Matthews and we were able to move into our own place. We’re still in the Cobb area, but we’ve moved since then into a better community.”

Christina, whose previous experience include jobs in the security, medical and restaurant industries, knew the four-week “boot camp” curriculum wouldn’t be easy, but she welcomed the challenge.

“I wasn’t used to a male-dominated field,” she says. “A lot of my classmates were male, but that made it even more appealing, because I wanted to break that barrier.”

Jose and Christina both work in the concrete sector with their respective companies. Christina is quick to pick her husband’s brain when the workday ends.

“He knows that I’m very curious and want to know more about everything, so he’ll tell me about all the different things he does at his job,” she says. “He has more experience than I do, so he’ll show me something and I can go back to work and ask them about it to learn more.”

Initially hired by another company upon graduating from Construction Ready, Christina had an interview with Florida-based Envision a week later. The company was expanding into Georgia and seemed to offer a better fit and opportunity for her. She was hired as a hoist operator and has since been trained in other jobs, including building toe boards and hand rails. She has embraced the daily routine of on-the-job learning.

“It’s a slow process, but you have to be willing to stick with it to learn new things,” she says. “I enjoy it. I like meeting new people. Where I work, there are always different contractors coming in, and I ask a lot of questions to a lot of different people, because I want to learn as much as I can. I want to know, ‘Why are you putting that where it is?’ or, ‘Why is that facing a certain a way?’”

When CEFGA resumed in-person teaching following the COVID 19-related shutdown, Christina and Jose signed up for Construction Ready PLUS classes. “My company was very supportive of it,” she says. “We did blueprint reading the first two Saturdays, and when I went to work the next week, I asked my boss if he could give me a set of blueprints to practice reading. I told him about the class, and I had Saturdays off from then on.”

Since his own journey through Construction Ready, Jose has been an enthusiastic advocate for the program.

“If there’s any possible way that I can spread the word and be like a billboard for the Construction Ready program, I’ll do it,” he said after going to work for C.W. Matthews.

His wife certainly noticed. “It’s changed our lives drastically,” Christina says. “I can’t thank [CEFGA] enough for taking me and Jose in and treating us like family.”

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