Early in her senior year at Warrensville Heights, Aerion Thomas felt that things just weren’t clicking. She was having trouble finding any interest in her classes and she was becoming increasingly nervous about her future. She knew she was smart and had the drive if she had a direction, but that was what she lacked. Then a trusted teacher, Mr. Jenkins recommended that she get involved in ACE.
Aerion had grown up with family members that were skilled in hands-on activities such as, working on cars or doing projects around her home, providing her with a background of various skill-sets. In the back of her mind construction was always a potential career path, so when ACE presented itself as an opportunity she decided to give it a look. She quickly found a place where she could learn, build relationships and have fun. She was inspired, and the drive that had faded was once again reignited.
Perhaps most significant from her ACE experience, was the relationship that she formed with Ariane Kirkpatrick, President and Founder of AKA Construction. Ariane is a mentor on the Warrensville Heights ACE team and formed a close relationship with Aerion over the course of her senior year.
“We hit it off from Day 1 and Ariane has become a 2nd Mom to me. I love her so much.” Thomas shared. Thanks in part to Ariane’s support and counsel, upon graduation Aerion became an apprentice with Building Laborers Local 310 and is now working for AKA on the Cleveland Clinic’s Health and Education Building and on a project for Amazon. Aerion is proud to be a part of AKA. She says that the company is built like a family, everyone helps each other and that the culture starts with Ariane.
Specific to ACE, Aerion shared that the exposure she got to the construction industry through ACE is already helping her today. Her familiarity with measurements, reviewing blue-prints and understanding 3-D models all make her feel more comfortable on the job site. These skills will be an even bigger benefit when she enrolls at Tri-C next Fall to begin studying Construction Management Technology.
When asked what advice she would give to current high school students about ACE, she urged “if you have any interest at all in the design or construction industry, get involved! If you get in to the organization and stick with it, you will learn so much, get to go on great trips around the City and will meet wonderful people”.
Aerion’s success and the bond that has developed between herself and Ariane is a special example of what ACE can accomplish.