TSC Auto Body student takes pride in learning skills that can help his community

Four and counting…is the number of certificates Carlos Rodriguez has from Texas Southmost College.

He is currently working on his fifth and final certificate in Auto Body Repair to include with his others from TSC’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Automotive Technology, Construction Technology and Commercial and Residential Electrician programs.

“I should have done classes like these a long time ago,” said the 59-year-old. “I’ve always wanted to learn about the trades and TSC has some of the best.”

The man of all trades has experienced what TSC has to offer since 2014 and opportunities like his recent internship with Tipton Ford in Brownsville is proof that it’s never too late to learn.

“I’m a disabled, retired U.S. Marine and Army veteran and after officially leaving active duty in 2013, I needed a new chapter,” said the Brownsville native. “I came back home and TSC was here with open doors for me and my service dog, Ike.”

Ike was assigned to Rodriguez to help warn him of oncoming panic and anxiety attacks and with his hearing impairment. Rodriguez jokes that Ike should also be receiving honorary certificates.

“Ike has sat with me through every class, every lab and has walked across the stage with me to receive every certificate,” he said. “I think that deserves recognition.”

Rodriguez enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps immediately after high school in 1981 and served until 1985, before going on to own a flooring business in Dallas and enlisting in the Army National Guard from 2005 to 2013, where he served on deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

During his last years in the Army, Rodriguez also worked as an Army instructor training new soldiers.

“I have taken the definition of retirement very seriously, but there is something about learning and gaining new skills that intrigues me,” said Rodriguez. “The demand for a skilled workforce in the trades is high right now, and it will always be, and I may be pushing 60, but these hands can still work, and this mind can still learn.”

Over the last seven years that Rodriguez has been enrolled at TSC, he has been able to apply what he learns in the classroom with hands-on training provided by each program, but his favorite part yet, has been working at Tipton Ford.

“Not only am I getting taught by some of the best in the classroom, but I’m also learning and working with some of the best in the industry,” he said. “Being able to experience the different areas of an auto body shop is invaluable.”

Rodriguez added he still has a lot to offer his community and after him and Ike earn a certificate in Auto Body Repair next fall, he plans on using the skills he has learned over the last seven years to serve the residents of his hometown and the Rio Grande Valley.

“My next chapter in life is volunteering. I will volunteer my skills to help improve lives,” he said. “The first step in my new endeavor is to seek out organizations like Habitat for Humanity, where I know I can make a difference.”

TSC’s Auto Body Repair program is two semesters and offers a certificate of completion. The program prepares students to become entry-level auto body repair technicians and provides hands-on training in areas such as the use or repair of steel, plastic, fiber-reinforced plastics and aluminum along with acquiring skills in welding, structural analysis, estimates, refinishing and computerized measuring systems.

All training reinforces technical training and safety procedures by implementing the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) Professional Development Program.

For more information about TSC’s Auto Body Repair program, visit tsc.edu.