Jose Reyes (center) learning at an F.H. Paschen construction site at a suburban housing development. --Supplied photo

Jose Reyes (center) learning at an F.H. Paschen construction site at a suburban housing development. --Supplied photo

From high schooler to civil engineer

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West Lawn man’s 8-year path leads to job with top company

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It’s a daunting question for any high schooler: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Had anyone asked West Lawn resident Jose Reyes in 2016 when he was in high school, he might not have had a clear answer. He knew he liked STEM but didn’t know what to do with that interest.

Then a student at Westinghouse College Prep (he attended grade school at Azuela in West Lawn), Reyes learned that local construction firm F.H. Paschen (FHP) launched their Paschen Scholars Program that same year. The three-year program offers hands-on activities to develop technical skills, build problem-solving abilities and garner real-world work experience, of which Reyes was among the first to embark.

After Reyes graduated via the program’s official Hard Hat Ceremony, he also graduated from Westinghouse. He then left for the University of Illinois to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering. He returned to FHP each summer as a paid intern shadowing what he described as “amazing managers” across different company divisions, learning the day-to-day, including contracts, scheduling, communications, and soft skills.

Jose U of I

Jose Reyes (center) learning at an F.H. Paschen construction site at a suburban housing development. –Supplied photo

“As a first-gen college student, I faced many unknowns,” Reyes said. “But Paschen was always there, providing the support and guidance I needed. Joe Scarpelli, in particular, was a constant presence, checking on my progress and offering encouragement. My grades weren’t always perfect, but I worked hard to graduate and achieve full-time status at Paschen.”

Reyes said he found a “home” at Paschen and was inspired by the number of employees who had made the company their long-term career plan. He described Paschen as a stable environment that not only offered job security but also opportunities for personal and professional growth.

“Paschen is a one-of-a-kind company. If you tell them what you’re looking for, they’ll help you find it,” said Reyes. “They’ve been alongside me through high school and college, and now they’re allowing me to start a rewarding career. With their guidance, I have gotten where I want to go and know what I will be met with when I get there.”

Last month, Reyes began his official full-time employment at FHP as a Project Engineer. He said he chose civil engineering to give back to his community and school system. In his role, he’ll be working on CPS-related projects, allowing him to do just that.

As part of its workforce development efforts, F.H. Paschen finds opportunities to influence students during their high school and college careers and through transition periods. In 2023, they launched Paschen Bridge, a paid internship for students transitioning from high school to college. Since its inception, nine scholars have participated. FHP establishes the foundation, offers stepping stones and opens the gateway to a full-time career.

“We’ve developed an ongoing track for candidates interested in the industry. We identify their interest in high school and foster that interest through our Paschen Scholars Program. We then continue that trajectory with our Paschen Bridge and College Internship programs, so neither side loses touch with the individual’s career goals. These programs aren’t just something for their resume. They’re opportunities to gain additional experience alongside their schooling and develop a relationship with a company that intends to hire them full-time as a member of our organization,” said FHP Executive Vice President Joe Scarpelli.

F.H. Paschen is a General Contractor and Construction Management company with more than 115 years of experience in the construction industry. They serve public and private customers across the country.

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