(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Trinity Ortiz, of Harlingen, gained hands-on mechanics knowledge during her teenage years when she assisted her father in his auto shop.
That passion led to her enrolling at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Harlingen and pursuing a certificate of completion in Auto Collision Refinishing.
In the past year, her father and two of her cousins opened a business in Combes, where they push her training. The certificate is Ortiz’s first step to contributing to the family business – and eventually to pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology, with specializations in repair and refinishing.
Although Ortiz is a female in the male-dominated auto collision industry, she will be a quadruple threat, with experience in mechanics, auto body repair, auto refinishing and some auto construction.
The first project she completed at TSTC consisted of spraying a bed lining on a 2019 Ford F-150.
“Instead of the back tailgate appearing shiny as it normally does, we literally hand-sanded everything,” she said. “We got it down to bare metal and shot Rhino liner, which is that gritty sandpaper. We shot the whole bed, tailgate, everything, and it came out amazing.”
An eagerness to learn more is what motivates her to excel in life and in the program. A valuable lesson she has learned from her instructors is that you will always learn something new.
Jose Vasquez, an instructor in TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program in Harlingen, knows what his students need to learn in order to be successful.
“I have owned a business. I learned a lot, and you have to do what makes you happy,” he said.
Ortiz recalled that when she was a teenager, she wondered what she could do to make her father’s job easier after he would come home from work, exhausted.
“One morning I remembered what our first duty was going to be,” she said. “I removed the heads to a car on my own, and he came outside, asking what happened.
Ortiz asked, “Isn’t this what you said needed to be done?”
“Yes, but where’s the gasket?” he asked.
“I already took it off, and it’s on the side already,” she replied.
Her father was impressed, which made Ortiz very happy.
Now her confidence has increased to make her the successful student she is today.
She plans to graduate with her certificate of completion in December.
Automotive body and related repairers can make a yearly median salary of more than $43,000 in Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology, with specializations in repair and refinishing, a repair specialization co-op, and certificates of completion in Auto Collision Refinishing and Auto Collision Repair.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.