Justin Murphree has built a lot of stages for others to walk on, but on May 19th, he was the one walking across the stage to receive his associate’s degree in Construction Technology from Ozark Technical College.
Justin is the first employee to take advantage of Nabhloz’ recent partnership with Ozark Technical Community College (OTC), which set up a pathway for graduates from our in-house Carpentry Apprenticeship Program to apply 45 credit hours towards an associate’s degree in Construction Technology. This program is open to students who have already graduated or are currently enrolled in the Nabholz Apprenticeship Program. The degree requires a total of 63 hours to complete, meaning graduates from our program must complete the remaining 18 hours of general education requirements, which can be done online.
Justin’s path to getting his degree is not uncommon. When he graduated high school, he did what was expected — went to college. However, like many students, he realized higher ed wasn’t for him and that he enjoyed learning in an applied work environment. After completing three years of college, he sought out a new career path.
Justin turned to the trades to find a new career. He grew up around carpentry and dirt work his entire life, which is what his father has always done for a living. In high school, he was highly involved in the agricultural education program at his school. After high school, he worked as a residential carpenter for several years.
After joining Nabholz in 2010, Justin honed his carpentry skills by attending Nabholz’ four-year apprenticeship program. He graduated in 2015, earning a U.S. Department of Labor Journeyman Carpenter certificate.
When he heard about the opportunity to count his training as credit hours at OTC, Justin realized it was a great way to get his associate’s degree. After speaking with the college, he also realized he could roll over three credit hours from his previous time in college and meet most of the requirements for common core classes. Besides one visit to the college’s campus in Branson, MO, Justin completed his classwork online.
As it goes, Justin enrolled in the program at just the right time. Shortly afterward, he was promoted from carpenter to site foreman. The foreman role involves supervising people; communicating with subcontractors, owners, and architects; leading jobsite safety efforts; and managing paperwork and plans.
To graduate, Justin completed business, public speaking, history, and computer technology courses. He said the new skills he was learning while going through the program helped him manage the responsibilities of his new position, especially when it came to working with diverse groups of people. “One of my business classes addressed how to work with people from different generations, identify what motivates one person over the other, and tell one person how to do something one way and another person an entirely different way, to get the same results.”
Justin also said the public speaking classes helped increase his comfort level in meetings, especially all the virtual meetings resulting from the pandemic. His computer technology classes helped with organization and expanded his Excel skillset. With all the coursework being online, he grew more confident in his ability to handle the increased email load that came with the foreman job. And, Justin noted, all the classes taught applicable lessons for his role at Nabholz, even history. “The ability to find lessons in history and investigate prime sources helped me understand specs and utilize Nabholz’ Quality Management System. The process taught me I could succeed outside my comfort zone.”
Going to school while working is not easy, but Nabholz’ partnership with OTC and the company’s tuition reimbursement program can help potential students overcome some of the obstacles.
Nabholz employees are eligible to apply for our tuition reimbursement program. If approved, employees can be reimbursed up to $2,500 per year for this program ($1,250 maximum reimbursement per semester, quarter, or term with 50% of unreimbursed tuition costs paid by the employee).
Additionally, OTC is flexible with students, offers online courses, builds programs around typical work schedules, and will modify programs to accommodate people with reading, writing, or other disabilities.
If you’d like to learn more about this program, contact Nabholz Director of Workforce Development Sheila Burroughs at email@example.com. As for Justin’s enrollment and graduation from the program (which she suggested Nabholz employees tailgate), Sheila said, “Having the opportunity to convert the apprenticeship program into credit hours towards an associate’s degree is huge. And Justin did it! I appreciate his efforts to tackle something new and applaud his perseverance.”