March 10 2023

Kudos to Keaton Clarke, Step Up Outstanding Alum of 2023

Keaton CClarke sitting in front of work computer

When Keaton Clarke graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2022, he already had a job waiting for him: a primo mechanical design engineer position at Victus Engineering in Saint Paul, where he now works on the design of mechanical systems (such as HVAC and plumbing), energy models and design studies. 

This great opportunity was years in the making, with Keaton’s tremendously hard work, creativity and dedication – and support along the way from Achieve career and college readiness programs and Step Up, which offered personalized guidance, hands-on job experience and professional connections for Keaton from high school through college. 

“Back when I was a student at Patrick Henry High School, I worked closely with the Achieve Career & College Center to explore my interests in STEM, prepare for the ACT, apply to colleges and search for scholarships,” Keaton says.

“I also participated in Step Up, which connected me with three paid high school internships at the Leo A. Daly architecture firm, where I explored my interests in STEM and even more importantly, met my long-time professional mentor, Eric Rodriguez."

Keaton went on to the University of Minnesota to study mechanical engineering, with generous scholarship funding that he secured with the guidance of our Henry High School CCC team. He also reconnected with Achieve Twin Cities through an Achieve college internship at Andersen Windows. "This experience provided a great opportunity to get more experience in my field and helped me define my career path,” he says. “At Andersen I had the opportunity to explore product design through projects like creating a clamping system to aid in the design of multiple geometric windows.”

During Keaton's college years, his Up mentor Eric Rodriguez invited him to work at his new company, Victus Engineering, to build mechanical system design skills that would complement his academic studies. Keaton performed so well that Eric offered him a full-time position immediately upon graduation.   

This 2018 Henry High School class valedictorian now has an exciting new career – and he was honored this year for his many accomplishments as Step Up's Outstanding Alum of 2023.

“I’m happy that my hard work has been recognized, and I’m also grateful to Step Up and Achieve for creating opportunities for me,” Keaton says.

“The CCC helped me get to the University of Minnesota. And thanks to my Step Up and Achieve college internships, I was able to get a full-time job right out of college with no resume and no interview. I like making my own way and advocating for myself, and I’m grateful for the support along the way.”

Keaton is also thankful to be working at Victus, where he feels energized and can thrive in an environment where he has the opportunity to grow in any direction. As he looks to the future he says, “I’m planning to take the fundamentals of engineering exam, the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer.”

We’re so honored to have known Keaton in high school and in college – and now as a talented Twin Cities engineer. Good luck to you, Keaton – clearly the sky’s the limit!

Learn more about Step Up, a program of the City of Minneapolis in partnership with Achieve Twin Cities, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and Project for Pride in Living.