Celebrating Black History Month with Gerard Cadet
- Mar 2, 2021
Black History Month honors African Americans’ triumphs and struggles throughout U.S. history, including the Civil Rights Movement and notable artistic, cultural, and political achievements. One of the ways we are celebrating is by sharing stories from our employees.
In the third installment from our employee perspective series, Senior Project Engineer Gerard Cadet explains how reflecting on this month helped him find his purpose.
Tell us about yourself.
I am Gerard Cadet. I was born and raised in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or, as I like to say, where everyone wants to go on vacation.
How did you get into the industry?
In high school, I studied carpentry and graphical communication. A teacher noticed how well I worked with my peers and suggested I go to college to learn construction and project management. I hesitated because I did not think I could afford it.
At first, the idea of college seemed like a dream, but I began to learn about having purpose and realized finances do not have to stop you from achieving your goals. What matters is having a dream and a vision – with those, you can make anything come true.
After high school, I studied architecture at the University of the Bahamas for three years. Upon completing my studies there, I went to Florida A&M in Tallahassee and earned my Bachelors in Construction Engineering Technology. Next, I went to the University of South Florida, where I earned my Masters of Science and Engineering Management in 2018.
I started at Beck as a project intern in the gap between earning my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. I am a Senior Project Engineer and am in my sixth year with the company with experiences in the aviation and higher education sectors.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Florida A&M University is one of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Still, coming from the Bahamas, it was my first time studying American history and the plight of blacks in the U.S. Black History Month is now a time of reflection for me – I think about the leaders before us that overcame significant challenges to make a difference in the world.
I also feel a sense of responsibility to develop personally and contribute. There is a saying, “where you are today is the result of some of your best decisions.” I use this lens to think about many things; it motivates me to think about the future even while working out the day-to-day.
What has knowing your history taught you about yourself?
Knowing my history makes me a more curious person and professional. I know that what I do makes a difference. Having studied construction engineering, I have a solid knowledge base and can apply it in many scenarios. Even though it is more academic, it prepared me for my career and other challenges. I wasn’t as fond of math or science or even public speaking in school. However, in pursuit of my purpose, it’s taught me the importance of taking on new challenges and making adjustments.
I’ve learned from others like Benjamin Banneker – the eighteenth-century mathematician, astronomer, author, and surveyor born a free black in Maryland during the American era of slavery. Despite the challenges Banneker experienced, he contributed significantly to society, including assisting in a survey that established the District of Columbia’s original boundaries. Banneker was also an advocate for others to be free like he was. Individuals like him inspire me to think of what I already have to create the kind of future that will improve society.
Is Black History Month still relevant?
There are so much sound and rich information that we can extract from history. We can use it to build from a place of strength, not from a place of defeat. History inaccurately taught us that blacks were slaves, but our history did not begin as slaves. We were free human beings, and we contributed significantly to our society, like Benjamin Banneker. For me, this is why connecting the dots between the past and present is vital because it shows us different paths and opportunities. At Beck, we’re making good strides with communities of color. We support minority companies through the Beck Partnership Program and Beck School of Construction. I would encourage black-owned trade contractors to continue to reach out to Beck to learn how they can qualify and be better prepared to do business with us.
We’re also doing a good job recruiting from HBCUs – which made me realize it is also my responsibility to help the next set of talent out there. In 2020, I decided to introduce my alma mater to Destini Estimator; it is a construction technology software and essential to our industry’s future. I contacted Brent Pilgrim, who serves as Beck’s Destini Applications Director, to help me pitch and present the idea. I am proud to say students at Florida A&M now learn Destini Estimator as part of their BIM Technology course. It is these kinds of collaborations that will nurture potential and possibilities in others.