Donte at his Mercer County Community College graduation.

Donte Boyer

Ever since he was a child, Donte Boyer had a dream of becoming a carpenter so he could work on his grandmother’s home.  In 1999, he began to make this dream a reality as an apprentice with Carpenter’s Local 781.  After finishing his apprenticeship in 2003, Donte went to work as a journeyman carpenter for some of the State’s largest general contractors.  “I have always known I wanted to rise to a management position in one of these companies, and in order for me to accomplish this goal I needed to obtain my college degree” Donte recalls.  He spoke with his training director and learned of a program in New Jersey which worked with apprentices to help them earn a college degree.  “In 2005, NJ PLACE set up a degree track that fit my needs and allowed me to use my education as an apprentice to satisfy nearly half of the credits required” Donte said.  Over the past few years, Donte balanced the responsibilities of work, home, and school life by fitting his class schedule around his other obligations.  During times when work was slow, Donte accelerated his education by enrolling has a full time student.  In May 2010, his dedication and hard work paid off as Donte received his Associate of Applied Arts in Technical Studies from Mercer County Community College.

Today, Donte is an apprenticeship program instructor with many certificates in addition to his AAS but says, “I have even greater ambitions than earning my Associate degree.  In fact, my experience with NJ PLACE has been a springboard for me to excel toward a Bachelor’s degree and eventually a PhD.”  Donte is already in the process of realizing these goals as he enrolled in Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labor Relations in the fall of 2010. As a Rutgers student, Donte proudly maintains a 3.857 GPA and plans to graduate in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Employment Relations.  And he doesn't plan to stop there. Donte has his sites set on a JD/MBA program at Rutgers Business School and is already studying for both the LSATs and GMATs.

Although this has been a long road, Donte says that he is dedicated to his education as a way of setting an example for his children, “I have two sons and I tell them all the time that education is important because no one can strip you of it.  My two sons look at the way I am applying myself to earn my college degree and it makes them believe that anything is possible if you apply yourself.”  In addition to the example he is setting for his sons, Donte sees the value of workplace learning and strives to inspire the kids in his community who may not have considered college as a viable option.  “Kids in my neighborhood and communities across the state need to see adults succeeding in education – they need to see a pathway to success,” he says, “NJ PLACE is providing that pathway for our young people who want to work with their hands in a trade and want to earn a college degree.”