Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Civil Rights

Committed to equality in transportation service

Spotlight on Success: OJT Trainee of the Month

Celebrating the accomplishments of those breaking new ground in highway construction

The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program is a much-needed on-ramp for people of color, women, and disadvantaged persons looking to start – and build – careers in highway construction.

Contractors participating in the OJT program are currently employing 160 approved trainees on highway, county, and city construction projects across the state.

All of these OJT trainees have unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to share and celebrate. In recognition, MnDOT Office of Civil Rights will be sharing their stories through our monthly “Spotlight on Success: OJT Trainee of the Month” feature. We invite and encourage you to check in regularly for updates.

February 2019: Akeethia Brown

They say inspiration can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. This was certainly the case for Akeethia Brown! 

For Akeethia, the inspiration to pursue a career in highway construction came while working her part-time job at Summit Academy OIC. Specifically, seeing firsthand the increase in not only the number of women graduating from Summit’s Heavy Equipment Pre-Apprentice Program, but also going on to find gainful employment in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Akeethia BrownDetermined to follow their lead, Akeethia enrolled and excelled in the 20-week program, learning the fundamentals of construction, including operating bulldozers, excavators, loaders and skid-steers. Post- graduation, it was on to Lunda Construction, which decided to hire Akeethia after just a single mock interview and sponsor her membership in the Local 49.

After working as an oiler on several Lunda projects, including the Stillwater Bridge, Akeethia was told she would be operating a loader on an upcoming project, a natural transition for the Summit Academy grad.

Akeethia’s career development didn’t stop there, however, as she spent the off-season going to the Local 49’s training center in Hinckley, earning a series of certifications enabling her to play an expanded role in Lunda’s heavy equipment operations. In fact, she is currently operating a crane on MnDOT’s largest project - 35W@94: Downtown to Crosstown.

As if all this wasn’t impressive enough, the operator trainee was named Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 Women Building Success Awards, an event sponsored by the Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council. She was also a featured speaker at a ceremony held in the Fall of 2018 by the MnDOT Office of Civil Rights. The event, which drew more than 100 people, acknowledged efforts throughout the state to diversify construction and maintenance projects.

As for the keys to her success, Akeethia credits her strong family support system, particularly the encouragement she receives from Samari, her 10-year-old daughter.