SOMERTON – Fernando Sosa is getting a chance to put what he's learned in a classroom into practice helping families building homes of their own in Somerton.
Sosa, a 19-year-old Somerton resident majoring in construction management at Arizona State University, has been serving as an intern this summer with Housing America Corp., a non-profit organization that administers a self-help housing program for low- and moderate-income families.
Housing America helps the families secure low-interest financing through the government for their homes and then provides them the training and other technical assistance to do the most of the construction work.
Sosa has been doing office work for the Somerton-based non-profit, but he's also spent part of his internship in the field helping the families doing the actual building.
"This program is helping me to learn and grow in the field I am studying, and I am seeing things that at times no one sees in school, learning a lot about people I am working with," he said.
Sosa, who aspires to own his own construction company one day, took part his first year at ASU in the College Assistance Migrant Program, which provides counseling, tutoring and other services to college and university students with farmworking backgrounds. It was through CAMP that he landed the internship with Housing America that began in June.
"I take it as an opportunity to learn more," Sosa said. "What they say in the books is one thing, and what you see in the field is another. Here I have the opportunity to see different (construction) techniques and strategies, work with my hands and communicate with people. It's a lot different from only being in school."
Sosa is learning something else as well. "Seeing families working together on their houses, seeing the love they put into it because it will be their home – those are the best experiences," he said.
Sosa, who graduated in 2018 from Kofa High School, is the second CAMP participant that Housing America has taken on as a summer intern in the last couple of years.
"When we find a local student who takes part in CAMP, we open the opportunity for them to have an eight-week paid internship," said Thomas Ryan, Housing America's executive director. "Fernando adjusted perfectly to what we look for for our program. He not only is learning construction techniques, he is also learning the principles of affordable housing in Yuma County."