Johnny Horton’s passion for community development has put him in the classroom, in non-profits that focus on fair housing, and now into a career in project engineering with Gilbane Building Company, City Colleges partner and one of the largest family-owned construction and real estate-development firms in the industry.

He had earned a Bachelor’s of Arts from Florida A&M University, but had always been interested in construction and real estate development – the real estate industry just wasn’t always a reliable way to provide for his family. But even as he pursued other passions, like being a middle school math teacher, managing building rehabs, and working with property management companies, he was always thinking about the bigger picture.

“I wanted to learn how to work on bigger projects, and on developments that could change the landscape of communities,” said Johnny, who also mentors youth in his Calumet Heights neighborhood. “I needed a greater understanding that a more formal education could give me, so I found the Construction Management program at Kennedy-King College.”

He started classes in January of 2019, while he worked with a with property management company at the same time. He knew the industry already, which he found helpful in class, and had the opportunity to learn from faculty who work in the field. He learned to read blue prints, review contracts, and overall got a solid foundation in the construction management business. He also got help with his tuition through a City Colleges of Chicago Foundation tuition grant.

Johnny enjoyed his time in class, and knew he wanted to make this his career, so he was excited when Gilbane, Inc had a career information session on campus. He learned more, went through rounds of interviews, and ultimately landed a job as a full-time project engineer in June 2020.

“The Construction Management classes without a doubt provided me with a foundation to be able to step in on day one and be able to work with the team at Gilbane. I haven’t felt overwhelmed because I had those classes to prepare me.

He is grateful for all he has learned in the Construction Management Program at Kennedy-King College, where he earns his associate degree in the fall of 2020, and grateful for the job he has at Gilbane, where he is currently working on two different job sites.

“I hope I can grow here, become an impactful employee, and be with the company for a very long time,” he said.