NAHB’s HBCU Cohort Learns, Networks at First-Ever Black Builder Mixer | Building Contractors Association of Southwestern Idaho | Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, Idaho | Treasure Valley
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NAHB’s HBCU Cohort Learns, Networks at First-Ever Black Builder Mixer

NAHB’s recently launched Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Student and Faculty Leadership program hosted its first-ever Black Builder and Mentor Mixer during the 2024 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

Held at The New American Home 2024, the event was a celebration of NAHB’s first cohort of students from HBCUs. Seventeen students representing nine schools enjoyed an evening learning and networking, as they toured the acclaimed 7,722-square-foot show home atop the foothills of Henderson, Nev.

The students heard from the superintendent of the build, Mark Schlachter of Sun West Custom Homes, who offered tips and insights on how to find success in the industry. Schlachter also detailed strategies for efficient planning and budgeting that have helped him throughout his career, especially with complex projects like The New American Home.

Students were also given time to talk with builder mentors from across the country and encouraged to connect with other mentors locally when they return home.

“As an African American female, it’s hard to be in an industry that’s predominantly for males, but seeing other people of color and women, it allows you to know that I can be that person. I can be more,” said Deyana Thomas, a student at Florida A&M University. “Depending on where you’re coming from you might not have that support. But we have support here at NAHB.”

The networking event is only the beginning of what NAHB aims to achieve through the program.

“I am excited for the students because everything that I — and other people of color — have gone through has been for them to be able to come to this place and have mentors to look up to,” said Tammy Murray of Andersen Windows. “They don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They have people to lean on.”

Student Chapters Advisory Board Chair Dr. Charner Rodgers thanked the cohort and its sponsors, including the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council, for celebrating the last day of Black History Month and acknowledged the rapid growth the program has achieved — expanding from 22 students to 345 in just one year.

Quoting civil rights activist James Baldwin, Rodgers said: “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

Want to get involved with one of these HBCU construction education programs? Complete this form.

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