At 16, life took an unexpected turn for Jonathon Barba-Lopez. He was lost in a cycle of bad choices, struggling in school, leading his friends astray, and feeling lost. Then, he found out he was going to be a father.

Inspired by faith and the determination to be a good father, Jonathon fostered his passion for construction. Excelling in his tech-ed classes, he caught the eye of teachers, who then invited him to work on larger projects and represent his classmates at SkillsUSA.

One day, a presentation at school introduced him to the WRTP | BIG STEP Racine Summer Trades Program. Jonathon signed up despite being late and only hearing the end of the presentation. A month before he turned 17, his son was born. The Summer Trades Program allowed Jonathon to visit union trading centers, ask questions, and get hands-on experience with the trades. After the program, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in carpentry.

With unwavering faith and a relentless work ethic, Jonathon pursued his dream. He is now a leader in his church, father to a happy and healthy son, and the youngest union employee at VJS Construction Service. He credits his success to the support of his teachers, WRTP | BIG STEP, his girlfriend, and most importantly, his faith.

“I’ve become a stronger individual working hard for what I have now.”

-Jonathon Barba-Lopez

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