Minnesota contractor JE Dunn Construction Group, Inc. established a new scholarship fund for Construction Management major students at the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. The scholarship will support Construction Management students over the next 10 years. As the 2017 fall semester approached, Jean-Marcel Njokou discovered that he would be the first to benefit from the new scholarship.
Njokou, originally from Cameroon in Central Africa, moved to Minnesota in 2010 to further his education. It was his employment in the construction industry that led to his interest in pursuing a degree in construction management. He currently works as a field supervisor for Bosco Building LLC. We caught up with Njokou to find out what brought him to the Construction Management major at CCAPS and what he appreciates about the program.
CCAPS: What excites you about working in the construction industry?
JMN: I like to visualize progress, and I love to see things come together. I also enjoy working with my hands. Even as a child, I loved making models of buildings. For me, choosing to work in construction has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
CCAPS: How did you find out about the Construction Management program at CCAPS?
JMN: After moving to the US I started working for a local construction company as a laborer. I developed a passion for the field and decided to pursue a career in construction. I talked about it with my girlfriend (now wife), and she searched online for all the programs related to construction that were available in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota’s Construction Management program caught my eye. This led to an appointment with advisor Megan Seltz to get a better understanding of the program. After talking to Megan, I was more confident about my chosen career path. Now I’m a senior in the program, set to graduate in the spring of 2018.
CCAPS: What appeals to you about the Construction Management program?
JMN: I like that this program teaches many different aspects of the construction industry and it makes me feel confident that I’ll easily find a job. With this degree, I can apply for positions that I was unable to before. I’ve always considered education as an asset, and I’m lucky to be encouraged by people surrounding me to pursue the highest education possible.
CCAPS: How has the JE Dunn Scholarship made an impact on your experience at the U of M?
JMN: Given the high cost associated with getting an education, JE Dunn is ensuring that there will be people with the skills to revolutionize the construction industry. It is because of this scholarship that I will be able to make a difference in the world of construction. The scholarship help is priceless, and it encourages me to get good grades.
CCAPS: Have you been able to apply what you are learning in the classroom on the job?
JMN: I apply what I learn on a daily basis, from ensuring that safety procedures are followed on the job site to confirming that scheduling and planning are in place. I have also improved my estimating skills, too. Last week, for instance, I was having a conversation with my boss about building envelope design. During the conversation I was able to apply knowledge from my building envelope and design class. From the look on my boss’s face, he seemed very impressed.
CCAPS: What are your career plans after graduation?
JMN: This is one of the questions I’m trying to answer right now. I’m not sure what would suit me best—working for a big general contractor or working for a small company. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m looking forward to the opportunities available to me.
Jean-Marcel Njokou is a recipient of the JE Dunn Scholarship.