On my paternal side is a long line of builders. My Grandfather, John Henry William Bonitz, founded Bonitz in the midst of the great depression. His father, Henry Emil Bonitz, was an established Architect in the Mid Atlantic states who has more buildings still standing in the historic district of Wilmington, NC than any other. His brother was an civil engineer and his father was from a long line of Royal Engineers in the courts of the Kings of Zellerfeld.
Growing up, my mother turned houses in the Cherry Hill District of Winston-Salem. Then, and later, as she renovated a century old log cabin at The Inn at Celebrity Dairy, I got hands on building experience, in drywall, wood working and masonry.
In 2010, thanks to Oregon Tradeswomen’s Pre-Apprenticeship classes, (OTI) opportunity opened up. With their solid preparation, I was accepted into the North West College of Construction’s carpentry apprenticeship. It was the bottom of the recession. Out of nearly 200 applicants, I was one of two new students to make it into the program, into a class of eight, six of whom were already employed. The next year, again with OTI’s support, via their political actions, I secured a position and direct entry into the union for an international company on a major federal project. I completed my Union Carpentry training and earned my Journeyman Carpenter card through the Pacific North West Carpenters Institute in the summer of 2015. Through them I earned an AAS from Mount Hood Community College and in 2016 I completed a second AAS from Portland Community College’s Building Construction Technology Construction Management Program. While working, I maintained a place on the honor role and President’s list.