Rahkeem Buford is a recent graduate of the Austin Polytechnical Academy, a program preparing high school students for college and career success in manufacturing, engineering, and related fields. The school is located in Austin, a neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, IL, where more than twenty percent of residents are unemployed. The program’s goal is to create new wealth in an inner city neighborhood and support the transition to a regenerative economy.
Rahkeem is a 19 year old graduate of the Austin Polytechnical Academy. As a participant in the program, Rahkeem took classes in introduction to engineering, engineering drafting and took an electrical engineering. In the electrical class, “that’s when we learned about the CSC machines.”
Rahkeem learned other valuable skills in the APA program, saying, “I took a few honors math classes. I learned Spanish, and I had A’s. They taught me what to do when I get a job interview, they taught me how to word my resume.”
After graduation, Rahkeem got a job as a machinist operator and trainer at Paasche Airbrush Co., a company which manufactures airbrushes used in the tattoo, hobby, graphic arts, and tanning industries. Rahkeem’s job is to maintain and operate complicated machines that manufactures the airbrushes.
Rahkeem likes his job, saying, “I enjoy it, my managers are friendly and funny!” Of his coworkers, Rahkeem says, “we give each other advice on how to work the machines.”
Rahkeem was glad to have participated in the Austin Polytechnical Academy, saying, “I was planning on going to college, but I had to change the plans, couldn’t leave [home in Chicago] at the time.”
Today, “I don’t really know too many people that got the type of job that I got. When I tell them what I’m doing, they don’t really know what I’m doing. But like, the kids that didn’t go to Austin, they got regular jobs at Target or Walmart, not like a job that you could call a career.”
Working at Paasche Airbrush Co., Rahkeem says, “it’s a good job. They offer me health care.”