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At my house, there’s always a bottle of cranberry juice in the fridge. My grandfather bought our cranberry bogs in Carver, Mass., and my parents bought it from him and rebuilt it in 2004. We lease it to people who grow for Ocean Spray, but we live about 50 feet from the bog. Right in what was the cranberry capital of the world.
With the bog, I’ve always been around people who work hard, plus there’s a lot of heavy equipment involved in farming. I had worked construction jobs throughout high school but graduated during a weird time — right in the middle of COVID. So, when the opportunity to join the Marine Corps Reserves came along, I said yes. It went back to when I was a little kid. I thought of the military as service, thanks to my grandfather being in the Air Force and my uncle being a Marine. I wanted to go to college and then at the same time, I wanted to go into the military. The Reserves was a perfect fit.
While I was in the Reserves, I was going to go to Wentworth Institute of Technology to study construction management and do the typical four-year live at college thing. Then, I found a program that Wentworth offers to take asynchronous classes. I could take as many as I wanted and still work full time. At first, it was a lot because I would cram in all these classes on the weekends while working at Suffolk during the week. But I’ve been doing it for a few years now, so I have a system down where I chip away at night and get the rest done on the weekends.
With the bog, I’ve always been around people who work hard.
It's also interesting because the other students in my class are a lot older than me, and many of them are in the trades. There are carpenters, there are Liberty employees, there’s even the labor foreman from our Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences project. It’s great because they have a lot of experience and I get to ask them questions. Plus, I’m working on an active jobsite. If I see something new in the field, I’ll go up to the foreman or one of the workers and ask them about it. And they’re very willing to explain things to me. I think they see a willingness to learn and they want to be able to teach the things they know to someone who cares.
I’m learning a lot more this way than I would if I were going into my senior year at Wentworth and living there full-time. I’m still living in Carver, and I’m planning to commission in the Marine Corps and stay an officer once I get my degree. Graduation feels like a long way away, but it’s really not.
Andrew Walker is a project engineer on our 2 Harbor life sciences project in Boston’s Seaport District. His Marine Corps Reserves regiment is based at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Mass.
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