The Man I Wanted To Be: Spotlight on Daquan Williams

Twenty-eight-year-old Brooklyn native Daquan Williams is loving life on the job site. “If I could work seven days a week,” he says, “I would.”  

After just four months in a skilled laborer role with local contractor Bronx Pro, Williams has begun to train to become a foreman – a distinction that typically takes six months to earn. His recent success might have been difficult to imagine only two years ago.  

In 2022, Williams found himself in a difficult spot. He had always wanted to be an architect, but his lack of a high school diploma limited his options. He worked overnight shifts at a grocery warehouse to make ends meet. He had also lost two family members in short succession. While he’d encountered grief before, these tragedies left him reeling in a different way. An email from his wife would spark a change.  

Williams’ wife forwarded him a flyer for an upcoming cohort of Building Skills NY’s Construction Career Accelerator skills training program. The classes, offered at no cost in partnership with Commonpoint Queens, would provide the knowledge and in-demand credentials he needed to secure a good-paying construction job and begin a career in the skilled trades. The curriculum included the OSHA-30, a required safety credential for New York City construction workers that costs $450 on its own. 

Daquan Williams (right) with Building Skills NY Training & Operations Director Tatanisia Lumley.

“That email took me away from the negativity and gave me a breath of fresh air,” Williams says. “Getting into the training felt like the best thing that could have happened to me.”  

The program taught Williams far more than construction skills. “When I started,” he remembers, “I didn’t have the energy or drive. By the end, I felt like I was the man I wanted to be.”  

Daquan Williams (pointing) at his Construction Career Accelerator graduation. In addition to six in-demand credentials, Williams graduated with his Core and Electrical Level 1 certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

A solid community in and out of the classroom proved critical to his personal transformation. He’s grateful to his classmates for keeping him motivated (“We still talk every day”) and his wife for her support throughout. He also credits his instructor Ana Lucas for the improved communication style he used to advocate for his foreman training. With her guidance, he learned to hold onto his tenacity and spirit while tempering his attitude when appropriate. 

Daquan Williams with his wife.

Now armed with a fresh set of skills and renewed confidence, Williams looks forward to capitalizing on the leadership acumen he’s always had. He sees a site safety supervisor role in his construction future and has committed to furthering his education. He has one class to go before completing his GED.  

In the long term, he aspires to pay it forward. Williams spent time in the shelter and foster care systems as a child and would like to open a shelter of his own. 

“There are people out there who need help. I just want them to have a place where they can get it.”