Christian Calle ’09
Growing up in Queens, New York, Christian Calle ’09 dreamed of a brighter future. He knew he wanted to attend college, but he wasn’t sure if the opportunity would happen. When his best friend enrolled at Milton Hershey School, Christian kept in touch and continued learning about the opportunities available at the private school for students from low-income families. Starting in fifth grade, Christian encouraged his mom to help him apply.
“Even at an early age, I knew, with my situation at home there was no way I was going to go to college,” he said. “I knew for me to be successful, I needed to take advantage of this opportunity. I kept telling my mom, ‘keep applying, keep applying.’”
It took several years, but on August 1, 2005, Christian’s dream came true—he enrolled as a freshman at Milton Hershey School.
Throughout his time at MHS, Christian worked hard and took advantage of every opportunity presented to him, especially in the Construction/Carpentry career pathway through the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. It was in those classes that Christian discovered his future career.
While at MHS, Christian developed his hunger to learn and has continued to stay dedicated to his education and experiential learning. He earned a bachelor’s degree in residential construction management from the Pennsylvania School of Technology before starting his career, where he was able to put into to action what he had learned in the classroom. Christian worked for several years as an assistant project manager and a project manager before the unthinkable happened.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought Christian’s career in construction to an abrupt halt. After a two month furlough, his resiliency brought him a slightly different position working for a company that was upgrading 80 facilities.
After about a year working on facility upgrades, he accepted a position as a full-time project manager at a construction company based in New York City, he is now managing and leading the renovation of a 107-year-old New York Public Library branch in The Bronx. “The most rewarding part of my career is what I get to do for the community through the projects I work on,” shared Christian. “Every day we have people inquiring about the library and we get to see how excited people in the community are about having this resource. It makes it so much better to come to work every day knowing that we are able to provide a facility that people really need.”
The library’s restoration project is set to finish in the summer of 2023.
Christian did not let a global pandemic stop him from advancing in his career and helping the community while doing it. In May 2021, Christian graduated with a master’s degree in construction management from New York University.
He has taken the skills he learned at MHS, such as how to work with people and the true value of diversity and representation. Christian is currently the co-chair of the Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG) for his company. Each day he goes to work with the intention of helping to bridge the gap between management and lower-level positions. “We have a lot of Hispanic and Latino workers—I happen to be one myself,” said Christian. “I’m able to make them more comfortable by speaking the same language with them. Not only does it help us understand one another better, but it also comforts them.”
The ERG is used as an educational resource and an outlet for Latinx employees to feel empowered within their roles. “My goal is to provide an opportunity for those that are in lower-level positions across the company, while also trying to provide representation at a higher level,” he added. “I want to be able to provide that channel and opportunity to show other Latinx and minority employees that there is no limit for where they go in the company and the industry.”
Ultimately, Christian sees the opportunities he was given as a student at MHS and wants to empower all people from marginalized communities to achieve their own success. “My journey at MHS was not always easy, but what I received in return was so much greater than I could have ever imagined,” shared Christian. “It’s a journey that changed my life.”