Wentcher Spotlight (5)

Alumni Spotlight: Noel Miranda

An Avondale native, Noel Miranda graduated from Lane Tech College Prep High School and became a Wentcher Scholar in 2017.


A first generation college student, Noel attended North Park University where he majored in Criminal Justice and Sociology, and he graduated with the honors of Summa cum laude in 2021. Noel told us that he originally started off as a Criminal Justice major but after he realized that he had taken many sociology courses, and with the advice of his counselor, he decided to pursue a double major. During his time at North Park, Noel volunteered as a Teacher’s Assistant at Hibbert Elementary School where he conducted a sociology project with 1st graders. In his project, he studied the school’s language program and how it impacted its students. He concluded that certain dual language curriculums favored Mexican Spanish speaking students which isolates and delays the learning of children from different ethnicities who speak different dialects of the Spanish language.


After college, Noel began the hiring process for the Chicago Police Department. This process is long, with the background check aspect of it taking anywhere from one to two years. At the time, Noel thought he wanted to be a police officer because he grew up seeing a lot of police officers in his family and his parents wanted him to get a government job. He told us that as a first generation college student and the son of two Mexican immigrants, it was easy to go along with getting a government job because of its stability and security. However, after seven months, Noel decided to make a career change and pursue carpentry.


His decision wasn’t sudden, Noel had taken quite some time to think about what he wanted. Noel told us that things really started to change for him his senior year in college when he decided to take some life skills courses. From those courses, he began to question what he wanted out of life, and if becoming a police officer was really right for him. We asked him how his parents took the news and he said that they took it hard because they really wanted him to secure a government job. However, his mom was very supportive of his decision. Noel said that his dad took some time, but did come around. 


As for Noel, he’s really happy with his decision. Currently, he is studying under his girlfriend’s uncle who works as an independent carpenter. As he gains hands-on experience, Noel is also studying the trade with books that he bought. He is also on the waitlist to get into the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council, where he would take up an apprenticeship which can take four years to complete. Upon completion of the program, Noel will become an official member of the Carpenters’ Union.


Noel is unsure how long it will take for him to get off of the waitlist. However, he is extremely hopeful it will happen. In the apprenticeship program he is looking forward to learning all of the ins and outs of carpentry. He is really looking forward to being able to do carpentry work by himself. Noel said that right now he’s just learning as he goes, but he would really prefer learning in a more structured way. 


We asked Noel what he enjoys about carpentry, and he had quite a bit to say! For Noel, carpentry’s main selling point is how it involves creativity and math. When he was younger he always enjoyed math, and now is no exception. The math in carpentry involves Algebra and Geometry mostly. There can also be a bit of Trigonometry. Noel is very hands on and enjoys building various things. As he is gaining experience, Noel never sees his work as work. He’s been having a lot of fun, which told him that carpentry was right for him.


Noel has ambitious and generous goals as a carpenter. He told us that he would like to own apartment buildings and do the remodeling himself. Ultimately, he would like to be a landlord and have passive income that way. He’s inspired by his parents who are currently landlords. Before owning buildings of his own, he would also like to help his parents by being able to fix things in the building they have.

We asked Noel if he had any interests outside of carpentry and he had a lot to say! He really enjoys working on cars. He’s also a very outdoors type of person. Noel enjoys both fishing and hunting. He works out often to relieve stress. Noel also enjoys listening to music. He told us that he really enjoys all genres of music as long as it sounds good.


We at the Wentcher Foundation are extremely proud of Noel for pursuing a career that makes him happy! We wish him good fortune and success on his journey as a carpenter!

Picture of Author: Nia Harris

Author: Nia Harris

Currently living in NYC, Nia Harris is a NYU graduate and Fulbright Scholar working for the Wentcher Foundation as the Program Associate. She writes for her own blog, Nashari which you can find here.

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