Diego M De La Cruz Ramirez, 2017 Automotive Service Technician Graduate
Service Technician at Tasca Ford
I came to the United States during 2013 from the Dominican Republic.
My dad wanted me to have more opportunity than I would have had in my home country.
I had graduated as an auto mechanic from a vocational school in the DR.
I worked on my family’s car and motorcycle. I wasn’t able to get a job in the field, so I had no actual work experience. When I came to this country, I wasn’t comfortable applying to jobs working on cars. If I don’t know how to do something, I am not going to tell you that I do.
I first lived in New York City and spoke only Spanish.
Because we were in a predominately Spanish-speaking community, I didn’t need to learn English. I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts and then, when I met my girlfriend, I moved to Providence, RI.
While living in Massachusetts, I worked in a food factory.
I was paid minimum wage and worked long hours on the night shift.
When the food factory moved out of state, I was laid off.
My dad said that if I didn’t go to school to get an education, I would always work too hard, for too little pay.
I looked for a school where I could learn to be an auto mechanic.
When I was driving with my girlfriend, we passed a bus shelter with an advertisement for MTTI’s Auto Tech program. I had checked out another technical school, but their tuition was way too high.
MTTI helped by forcing me to speak English.
During the program I improved my English skills. Now I have the advantage of being bilingual.
Just before I began school, we had a family tragedy.
My mother, who was still living in the DR, was killed. When I started class several weeks later, none of my classmates knew what had happened. It was hard, but I wasn’t going to let anything affect my education.
For the first two months of my program, I had to work a full-time job.
I didn’t immediately sign up for Unemployment Insurance because I went to DR for my mother’s funeral. After I returned to the states, I made a mistake when I filed. Until I could get it fixed, I had to work all night as a delivery driver for a pizzeria. I only got three hours of sleep, which affected my academic grades.
My grades improved when I was able to stop working.
At least my hands-on skills were always good—I know how to grab a wrench. But I wished I could have had better test grades.
Everyone in my class got along well.
A few of my classmates had some mechanical experience. A lot of the students grew up gaming on PlayStation, but had never held a wrench. By the end of the program, all of us could work on cars.
My instructor, Glen, was very helpful to me.
Glen has lots of experience; he could always answer my questions.
When I graduated, Glen recommended me to the Service Manager at Tasca Ford.
I work in the Quick Lane, changing oil, flushing brakes and transmissions, changing headlight bulbs, balancing tires and doing alignments. I am fresh out of school, so I’m learning a lot from different situations I encounter on the job.
I learned good diagnostic skills from Glen.
When a customer comes in with a problem, I can help them more easily and quickly.
I haven’t made any mistake that has cost the company money.
I’m careful about how I work, because this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. By building trust with my supervisors, they will give me opportunities to grow. I have the patience to learn and put in the practice. Without practicing you’ll never be good at anything.
When I am doing my job I am organized and focused.
Glen taught me a routine and I always follow the steps. Before changing the oil, look to see if the ‘check engine’ or oil light is lit on the dashboard. I record the mileage. I leave the key in the ignition, but roll down the window; if the car automatically locks, I can still get in. When I have to figure out how to do something while the customer is waiting for their car, I don’t let pressure make me do things wrong.
I don’t need a college degree right now.
Starting out, it is less time and money to get a technical education. I was able to start earning a living when I graduated. When I am ready, I will be able to pay for college to get an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. Maybe I’ll get a business degree so that I can manage a dealership in ten years.
MTTI is affordable and quick—the program is only seven months.
I know someone who went to another school—he has big loans. We work together, we do the same thing, but he has a bigger loan to pay back.
Everyone at MTTI is willing to help you.
It’s not that big here. It is friendly—everyone knows each other.
The program at MTTI helped me get a job doing something I love.
If I hadn’t come to school, I would have been stuck in a factory job. When I worked in a factory, the workers weren't valued. They could treat us poorly, because if we quit, it was easy for them to hire other workers who would accept the pay and poor working conditions.
I have a good schedule at my job.
I no longer have to work long hours on the night shift, or be obligated to regularly stay extra time. I’m not hurting my body by working so hard physically.
When you are working at something you love to do—you have a better life.
You need an education in life. If you are educated, you can still be a guy who has street smarts—but you will be a guy who can make a better living.