What started four years ago as a hobby for Rodolfo Gomez is now evolving into an exciting new career. Thanks to the suggestion of some friends, he learned that his love of woodworking could lead to training for a manufacturing position. And, that is what led him to the Machine Lathe program at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).
Before that, Rodolfo spent 27 years in public service, first in the military, then in the postal service, and finally, as a police officer. He is now redefining himself for work in the private sector. “A lot of companies are hiring right now, so it feels promising,” he said when asked about the outlook in manufacturing.
He began at MATC in February 2014 training in machine lathe, which he will finish this spring. Next, he plans to continue at MATC in the fall with training in computer numerical controls (CNC) operations. His end goal is to earn an associate’s degree. While serving in the military, Rodolfo took some college courses, but did not have the time to complete a degree program.
Rodolfo is grateful now that he does have the time and opportunity to return to school. However, there have been some challenges. He has a family and a part-time job in addition to being a full-time student, so it has been tricky to juggle everything. Nonetheless, Rodolfo explained, “My family is my motivation, and a family man always finds a way to make it work.”
“I’m trying to set a good example for my kids on the importance of school,” he added. “You are never too old to learn.”
Rodolfo says that other challenges of being a returning student include getting up to speed on computer technology and having to take math classes again. Fortunately, MATC has been very helpful by providing tutoring and resources in the computer lab.
According to Candice Zielinski of MATC’s School of Technology and Applied Sciences, Rodolfo excels at this training and has been very helpful to other students.
For his part, Rodolfo says he really appreciates the college and feels it is a great reward for his military service to be able to go to school. When asked about career goals, he cites Harley-Davidson as a dream employer. Perhaps, they will see him as their ideal employee. Or, there will be another company that Rodolfo has yet to discover.