(HARLINGEN) – Luis Coronado’s father gifted his son a brand new car to celebrate his high school graduation, but with a new baby on the way and the need for a stable career, Coronado had no choice but to sell it for tuition money.
For Coronado, selling the car went a long way because he graduated Friday from Texas State Technical College with his certificate in Auto Collision Technology, and a job offer in hand.
He was among the 253 students who received certificates or associate degrees during TSTC’s Fall 2016 commencement ceremonies held at Marine Military Academy.
“This car was special to me,” said Coronado. “But sometimes, you gotta do what you got to do. And I needed money if I wanted to build a meaningful career to provide for my family.”
Prior to attending TSTC, the Mercedes native worked at the Dish Call Center in Harlingen, along with his fiancé.
It was Coronado’s fiancé that was supporting both of them while he studied, but when life threw them a curveball and she was laid off from her position, they had no choice but to move back in with his parents.
“The situation wasn’t ideal,” said Coronado. “But I’m so glad she never stopped supporting my dream and my parents had our backs. I couldn’t have done any of this without these people in my life.”
The 23-year-old said having support from his instructors was also a big deal. He said they advised and encouraged him every step of the way, especially when he felt like quitting.
“Yes, I learned the foundation of auto collision and the hands-on experience was invaluable, but the help and support the instructors provide means so much more,” said Coronado. “Sometimes students like me need that push, and it makes a world of difference.”
Coronado took the support and ran with it, applying for every body shop position he could find in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Whether it was luck or my perseverance, I got a job at Tipton Ford,” said Coronado. “All I know is I’m blessed to be able to help support my family again, but this time doing what I love.”
The new Body Man Helper said his investment in TSTC was an investment in his future.
“This was a painful process and I can’t believe graduation is here. I’m trying to soak it all in,” said Coronado. “I’ve met all the right people, at the right times, and now my family has a better future ahead.”
Coronado dreams of living the American dream. Buying a home, maybe someday owning his own body shop business and making his family proud.
His instructor Jose Vasquez has no doubt in his mind that Coronado will find success.
“He’s the student that would come in early and leave late,” said Vasquez. “We’re proud of everything he’s had to overcome to find the success he has already. I’m certain with his hard work, dedication and commitment he will go far.”
Coronado said everything he did was definitely a risk, but a risk worth taking. He is beginning to see the benefits of the sacrifices he and his fiancé had to endure during his time in school.
“Everything is coming together and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
For more information on Auto Collision Technology call 956-364- 4659.
Registration for Spring 2017 is in progress. To register or apply anytime visit tstc.edu.