Fernando, 27, is a junior welding instructor at the Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston. Originally from Mexico, Fernando came to Houston as a child and has lived here his entire life. After nine years working in the welding field, he joined Tulsa Welding School just three weeks ago in August 2018.
Thanks for sharing your story, Fernando. Why did you choose a career in welding?
My grandfather and my uncles are all welders. I saw that they made pretty good money so I thought I’d go that route. Also, I didn’t have the money to go to college and become a lawyer or anything like that!
Where were you working before you came to Tulsa Welding School?
I’ve been welding for about nine years. I went through welding school and then worked on pressure vessels and storage tanks here in the Houston area. I was with my last company for about four years before I came to the school three weeks ago.
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What made you decide to leave that job?
The company was slowing down, and I didn’t like not being able to plan for the future. They were talking about maybe cutting us to 30 hours a week. That wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted to have the ability to plan things for the future without worrying about not having a job.
Why did you decide to go into teaching?
The time was right. I don’t like traveling, and we are having a baby in January. I just want to be home. I enjoy being looked up to as a role model. I think I’ve done pretty well for myself, so I wanted to pass that knowledge on. I like working with people and talking with them. I like being part of somebody’s success as they grow and improve in their trade.
You’ve only been teaching for a few weeks, but what do you enjoy most about it?
Going into the booth with students and teaching them how to do something the right way, step by step. It’s real hands-on, even grabbing them by the hand sometimes to show them how to do it. Seeing how much they appreciate it, when they actually realize that they can do it because of what I’m showing them, is great. I’m enjoying this as much as I thought I would. I’m sticking here for a long time!
Why did you choose TWS?
I have a couple of long-time friends who work here. They told me about the job.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to have my own shop customizing vehicles, like that TV show West Coast Customs. I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, and welding is a big part of that. My goal still is to open a custom shop.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I have a couple of fixed-up trucks that I take to car shows. Everybody says that’ll stop when the baby comes!
Tell us about your family.
My wife Kassandra and I have been married for three years, but we’ve been in a relationship since high school. Our first baby is due in January. We’re having a gender reveal party next week, so I’m not going to tell you whether it’s a boy or a girl!
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do?
I’d be running that custom shop I mentioned. I’d do lowering and lifting trucks, tuning for improved engine performance, and maybe some paint and bodywork. Just like the show West Coast Customs, I’d like to do it all: interior and exterior stuff.
If you got an unexpected afternoon off, what would you do?
I’d work on my trucks. They need some work. Or I’d spend time with the family now that I’m having a baby!
What was your favorite part of the welding industry when you worked in the field?
Seeing the finished product that I’d been working on. A sense of satisfaction from knowing that I helped build that finished vessel or storage tank.
What advice do you have for new students who may be considering attending TWS?
Life is all about making decisions. You’ve got to make the right ones because those decisions will create the path that your life will follow. If you start off making the wrong decisions, then your life is going to go down the wrong path. If you decide to come to welding school, it’s going to change your whole life for the better. Adults devise a plan and follow it. Children do what feels good. So devise a plan and follow it.
If you were to tell someone “thank you” for helping you become the man you are today, who would that be and why?
My grandpa, my uncles and my mom, so my family, I guess! I grew up without a father, so my grandfather and uncles were my father figures.