You Got This! Eric Varela


Tell me about your background — your family, goals, personal interests.

My dad raised me. He owns a construction company. I’ve been working since I was 15. I went to school originally to be a game warden — I was working toward a Bachelor’s at the University of New Mexico. Then I decided to explore trade schools — carpentry, welding — and I really enjoyed it. I knew the welding program at the CC was in its infancy, but I decided it was something I wanted to do.

Why did you choose SFCC?

Santa Fe is only a 25-minute drive from where I live, in Pecos.

Are you a full-time student? Part-time?

Full-time. I’ve only been at SFCC for two semesters. I already had all my prerequisites plus one semester of welding.

Do you attend classes during the day? At night?

Days — 8 till 1, four days a week.

Tell me about your experience at SFCC. Was it what you expected? How was it different?

I love it. I think attending the CC was the best decision I could have made. I came from a bigger school that cycle kids through. Classes at the CC are smaller with lots more hands-on time, which was perfect for me. In welding, it helps to have that one-on-one time with instructor.

Are you receiving financial aid? What kind?

No, I paid out of pocket. I’ve been working while I went to school, on a 300-acre ranch in Pecos, taking care of cows.

Did you meet with an advisor? Did you use any of SFCC’s student support services? (Counseling, tutoring, help for veterans?) Did they help?

No, everything was through my relationship with Jake (Lovato). He was my advisor, too. Jake’s the man over there.

Did you face any obstacles to completing your education? What kinds (financial, scheduling, emotional support)?

Scheduling was a little bit of a headache, because I was focused on learning the trade and some things slipped by me a bit. I talked to Jake and he helped me sort it out, in and out of the shop.

What advice would you give to a prospective or current SFCC student?

Stick with it! College is all about ups and downs. You have to keep the big picture in mind. Don’t lose sight of your goal. I’m glad I didn’t give up.

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