• Student Stories: Rosa Jiminez

  • Civil Engineering Technology, Transfer Student

    Rosa Jimenez knows about transitions! From small town Mexico to production worker in Chicago, from learning English to raising a family, Rosa was prepared for an even bigger transition-starting college at MHCC as a 29 year old mother of two boys to get an Engineering Technology degree.

    “I was tired of working for minimum wage,” Jimenez said, “and not doing what I wanted to do. My dad was a plumber, and from the time I was little, I would watch him work. I was fascinated with everything that had to do with construction. It all interested me; building a home, bridge, the design of a road, and of course, the connection of pipes and sewer. How did they work, how were they built? I decided to find out for myself.”

    First, Rosa got her GED while working full time on a graveyard shift so she could spend time with her children during the day. “It wasn’t enough,” Jimenez said, “I didn’t feel satisfied.” So she decided on a Civil Engineering Technology degree.

    Math was not the barrier she feared, even though she had to start in Math 60. “I realized I liked math,” she said. “I liked school better than I ever had before—because now I had a plan.”

    Jimenez struggled with her English, but instructors were always available after class to help explain the material. Although she was one of only four women in the program, the male students were helpful and friendly too. Her teenage son pats her on the back when she’s studying, saying “Mom, this is going to be worth it.” Now, both her sons are talking about college too.

    Jimenez was snatched up by the Forest Service before she finished her associate of science degree in 2003, and still works as a technician out of the Estacada Ranger Station. She does drafting, helps to make plans, and works in the field. But Jimenez said she still wasn’t satisfied, making $16 per hour. And she wasn’t done with transitions

    Now she is back at MHCC, working on her Engineering Transfer degree. Her children are older, and the Forest Service has allowed her to work part-time so she can return to school. Rosa plans to start at PSU in fall 2007.

    As a civil engineer working in a high-demand occupation, Jimenez will have her pick of jobs in the public or private sector. And she’s bilingual which will come in handy working on planning and construction projects in Oregon, with its growing Latino population.

    Engineering is great for women, Jimenez said. “It’s an exciting career,” she said. “Don’t be afraid.”

    Much like his approach to sports, Sharr is facing his life as a student with gusto. Embarking on his second year in the Architectural Engineering program at MHCC next fall, Sharr is already designing homes for his brother’s construction company.

    Sharr spent 30 years custom building homes around Oregon and the United States. Three years ago he fell off a roof and broke his back, and from then on would have to be in a wheelchair. Needing to find a new line of work, Sharr looked around for a college program that would make the most of his extensive construction knowledge.
    “I checked the programs at other community colleges and MHCC’s was the right choice,” Sharr said. “The program teaches more than just AutoCAD and drafting, it covers the technical information like structures, engineering, surveying and how to put it all together to create a well-designed home.”

    Sharr has come a long way during his first year at MHCC. He started out knowing nothing about computers, and after a few basic computer classes, he was ready to enter the program. When Sharr turned in his first set of plans drawn on AutoCAD, his instructor was so impressed with the completeness and accuracy of his drawings, his instructor told him he’d demonstrated mastery of everything necessary to pass. But Sharr wasn’t content to take his “A” and not attend class; he came in regularly to assist other students with their AutoCAD work.

    As an older student, Sharr felt a “little nervous” coming to college, but met many other students in his age bracket and soon had a group of friends of all ages. He is especially pleased with the quality and helpfulness of the instructors.

    “The instructors are very understanding of my needs, and when things get tough, I can give them a call. They are always open to working with me. They’ve really taught me a lot,” Sharr said.

    There are some accessibility situations on campus that Sharr would like to see improved, such as better access to restroom facilities, but he’s not deterred.

    Now, when designing a home, Sharr considers accessibility requirements, something he’d never thought of while working as a builder.

    Sharr has plans to continue designing homes for his builder/developer brother, Rick Sharr, and will work for him full-time after graduation.

    For now, Sharr is taking a break before school starts in the fall. He is planning to take family members on a trip to Alaska aboard his 65-foot yacht.