Conor is pursuing his passion thanks to TechForce’s Veterans At Work: Military Transition Fund

How Technician & Navy Veteran Conor Went Pipeline to Placement and Beyond with TechForce

“Pursuing a technical education has set part of the foundation of my life,” says Conor. “I started working on classic Fords from day one with my family. Later things got difficult and we were very poor. When I was 13, I worked doing oil changes, brakes, and cleaning to help pay the bills. When I was 14, I moved to a dairy farm and it changed my life. I did all sorts of dirty jobs, but my favorite was the shop where we worked on the equipment. I became the neighborhood mechanic.”

Wrenching Through Difficult Times

After high school, Conor joined the Navy where he got to work on airplanes. Unfortunately, his military career took a left turn when he suffered a shattered ankle. “I was put in a limited-duty status that didn’t allow me to do my job, so I turned back to flipping cars to make extra money.”

Now on an honorable medical discharge, and a father of three with a fourth baby on the way, he’s had multiple surgeries including one that resulted in having his ankle fused. “That still didn’t stop me from working on things,” he says. “Mechanics has always provided me with joy and an ability to combat depression. I love turning on music and wrenching on anything. The sense of accomplishment when the job is done makes me feel great.”

Transitioning into the Civilian Workforce with Help from TechForce Donors

In 2021 Conor decided to pursue his passion and started his technical education. He soon after discovered TechForce, joined the Network and received a relocation grant through the Veterans At Work: Military Transition Fund – Sunstate Equipment grant.

Thanks to support from generous donors who believe everyone should have a chance to succeed, Conor was able to move with his family closer to school.

Conor is thriving today

“It’s great that TechForce is bringing awareness to the industry. There are so many other technical options and opportunities for people who aren’t interested in going to a traditional college. TechForce has been really helpful with my education and their Network is an excellent resource with a great community of industry people, tutorial videos, upcoming events, and even fun things like trivia.”

TechForce was able to help connect Conor with Sunstate Equipment, where he was hired as a technician. “I am excited for the chance to work at Sunstate. There are so many opportunities for growth plus, they really appreciate and take care of their employees. I am very thankful to TechForce for helping me land this job.”

Conor recently reflected on his experience with TechForce Foundation, “TechForce is an unbelievable free resource and it has been a big help throughout my entire process from school to career. I will recommend TechForce to other people and I’ll definitely keep using its Network while I finish my education and throughout my career.”

About TechForce Scholarships

TechForce Foundation is a national nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion all students to and through their education and into careers as professional technicians. TechForce powers the technician workforce by awarding more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually, with more than 40,000 students supported since 2007. All of TechForce’s scholarships and programs are made possible by donors like you.

Learn more and apply for TechForce scholarships and grants at TechForce.org/Scholarships

Meet Luke, TechForce scholarship recipient & future Aviation maintenance technician

Meet Luke, TechForce scholarship recipient & future Aviation maintenance technician

Luke was initially exposed to the possibility of a career in aviation via a field trip with his school. He says, “We took a field trip to a small local airport to find out more about its operations and possible vocational opportunities that lie within that type of business. I once again found myself interested in aircraft and how they are maintained and operated. It all seemed very exciting!”

He is very excited about his aviation maintenance program, and is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity he will have to work on aircraft at the National Aviation Academy aircraft hangar.

Regarding his ultimate career goals, Luke says, “I would like to travel around the world and work on aircraft for an aviation company.”

From the Gridiron to the Hanger

Luke says that being a high school football captain helped him learn to be a leader. He was a co-captain on his freshman team, and there was significant conflict among the players.

“To say I had my work cut out for me was an understatement. Before we even had our first game there were constant arguments and disagreements. The coaches spoke to the co-captains and said you must lead by example.”

Luke was able to implement this suggestion, “I remembered what the coaches had told me about leading by example and I began working hard along with the other players and we came together as a team. We were the first freshman team in many years that had an undefeated season!”

Luke’s Scholarship

Luke’s education has been financially stressful on his family, because he has 3 siblings, all of whom are also in college right now. Additionally, his family experienced periods of decreased income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Luke is incredibly grateful for the tuition support provided by the Accelerate Tuition Scholarship Award, which will help him cover the cost of school and start his career on solid footing.

About TechForce Scholarships

TechForce Foundation is a national nonprofit, 501(c)(3) with the mission to champion all students to and through their education and into careers as professional technicians. TechForce powers the technician workforce by awarding more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants annually, with more than 40,000 students supported since 2007.

Learn more and apply for TechForce scholarships and grants at TechForce.org/Scholarships

Meet Brennen: Army Veteran and TechForce Scholarship Recipient

Meet Brennen, Beneficiary of The John & Bernadette Heenan Veterans at Work Fund

Brennen is an Army veteran who knows how to overcome obstacles while giving back

“Since I was a little girl, I’ve always really enjoyed working with my hands and I knew I wanted to be a technician. I look forward to learning everything I can and being able to move up the ranks of master technician. My ultimate goal is to one day own my own shop and getting certified is going to help tremendously with those plans.”

Photo of Brennan, TechForce scholarship recipient

Overcoming challenges and inspiring others to do the same

Balancing being a single mother, working and going to school can prove to be very challenging. Brennen says, “I’m always feeling like I have to prove and push myself further than everyone else because I am a female in a male dominated industry.”
“I’d like to change the way women feel about having a career in the industry and make it easier for them to pursue their dreams. I am dedicated to reaching my goals. I keep my head up, practice, study and take any experience I can to perfect my craft. Being in school for something I am passionate about has made me more confident and not afraid to work in the industry. I want my daughter to know that she can be anything she wants to be without any fears.”

Finding ways to give back

Brennen understands how important it is to be involved and give back to her community. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season she makes sure to volunteer at a local homeless shelter.

Being a single mom, Brennen cannot live on campus. Paying for rent and school expenses makes it difficult for Brennen to make ends meet.

About the scholarship

The John & Bernadette Heenan Veterans at Work Fund helps make it possible for Brennen to pay for her technical education and living expenses.

For more on how TechForce scholarships and grants support students through their technical education, visit Techforce.org/Scholarships

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Women Techs Rock Grantee Jinelee After Tech Career

Meet Jinelee, Women Techs Rock Grant Recipient

Women Techs Rock grant recipient Jinelee discovered her passion for a tech career during the pandemic, and is already well on her way to achieving her new dream of owning an all-women’s garage!

How Jinelee got interested in a tech career

Jinelee Galindez examining an engine while studying for her tech career.

In the early part of the pandemic Jinelee experienced some medical problems that put her on unpaid leave. During that time, she says, “I just started working on my own truck, fixing and replacing parts. I began to spend my nights watching YouTube videos on random mechanic work, and found myself looking for things I could fix on my truck and what I could do to make it look and run better. Slowly, working on my truck dragged me out of an unhealthy place. Fixing my truck took me to another world where I felt like I was dancing and singing. Everything seemed so positive. Never in my life would have I thought this was something I would like. I had never tried it. But now I feel as if it is my calling… I have found a new skill that I love. Automotive!”

Early signs a tech career was the right fit

Looking back on her life, Jinelee admits there were signs that a technician career was in the cards for her.

“When I think about the things I used to do when I was little or even as an adult, it makes sense. I used to love fixing my bicycle and my friends’ bicycles, rollerblades and skateboards. I loved to put puzzles together and build random things out of anything I could find. As I got older, I still found myself doing similar things, such as building or putting together furniture. Using my hands to repair, build and just get my hands dirty has always been my thing and I NEVER realized it until I started working on my truck.”

Passion powers progress towards tech career

Jinelee says she is amazed how far she has come in such a short time, and she has big dreams for her future.

“I want my own car shop. A very girly shop. I want the equipment to be bright, fun colors, and I want it to have only women mechanics!”

Life's challenges inform Jinelee's perspective

Jinelee has overcome numerous very difficult personal challenges, but despite this, she says, “[My] focus [is] on people’s efforts. I like to make others feel positive, empowered, worthy, appreciated, and supported. I am one that can communicate encouragement to help people move forward but also hold them accountable in a loving way when tough love is needed. It’s important to inspire one another, challenge one another in reaching our full potential and celebrate each other for our successes.”

She is elated to have received the Women Techs Rock grant. Jinelee has worked incredibly hard to discover and be able to pursue her passion for a tech career. She is extremely grateful for this generous gift that will let her follow her passion, and hopefully inspire future women technicians!

If Jinelee’s story inspired you, we invite you to learn more about a technician career at https://techforce.org/our-work/#career-exploration