Student Spotlight: George Rodriguez

September 22, 2021

Returning to school wasn't what El Camino College student George Rodriguez thought he would be doing at this point in his life. At age 55, he had just spent 10 years on leave from his work as a carpenter so he could care for his ailing parents. But he set a goal to start a new career with Culver City's transit department and soon learned that education was the key.

Though he has 30 years of experience in the field, Rodriguez needed a high school diploma, in addition to some job training, due to his absence from the workforce. His first stop was the South Bay Adult School; soon, he was invited to join El Camino College's pre-apprenticeship program in construction technology.

"Ever since then it has been a wonderful time of great classes and meeting new people," said Rodriguez, who landed that job, earned multiple certificates and is now planning to work on a degree in construction management. "This is just what I was looking for. I've learned so much; it has been amazing. After about a year and half, I got amazing college classes, and my dream job. I never want to stop learning."

At El Camino College, Rodriguez found relevant, real-world career training that leads to jobs. Through a partnership with the South Bay Adult School, ECC offers free, pre-apprenticeship programs in construction technology and machine tool technology. The program includes four eight-week courses; fees, books and supplies are provided at no cost.

"Everything about this program changed my life," said Rodriguez, a lifelong South Bay resident, who also aspires to earn a general contractor license and a real estate license. "I set goals, which got the ball rolling to continue my education, which was harder for me when I was younger. High school was rough for me and for my parents, but now I have this chance and I'm taking it. I'm the first in my family to go to college, and I'm very grateful to everyone at El Camino for helping me."

Rodriguez recommends the ECC program to everyone he meets.

"Everywhere I go, I tell people about El Camino College: people at the barber shop, people walking down the street, the guys at the bank," he says with a chuckle. "I tell people I will bring them there myself. Your education is so important, and El Camino is right here. There are no excuses."