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SPC student seeks alternate route to success
PLAINVIEW – In August 2013, Cargill Meat Solutions closed its doors leaving 2,300 people unemployed. The plant, being Plainview’s largest source of employment, greatly impacted the lives of residents in the town and the surrounding areas.
For some of the newly unemployed, the Cargill closure opened another door – the door to South Plains College Plainview Center.
Steven Montez said he never thought he would lose his job. The Plainview resident graduated from Plainview High School, and sought employment as a television repairman and crane automation operator at Excel prior to joining Cargill. When the company closed, they had given employees the chance to move to another plant. However, Montez said Plainview was his home and he did not want to leave.
“At first, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “I never thought about going to college. Then Workforce Solutions came in and helped me get the money to attend South Plains College.I knew that training in an area like welding would help me earn a good living again in a short period of time.”
Montez said even though classes already had started for the spring semester, he enrolled anyway and stepped right into the program. The welding class offered a one-year certificate program. The class meets daily Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Montez said he found the routine comfortable.
He said he finds the work rewarding and challenging. The most difficult task he has faced is passing the “break test.” The break test uses a machine which bends the weld to test its durability.
“I’ve had some really good instructors here, especially Kirk Smith, and I’m learning a lot from him,” Montez said. “The city of Plainview is going to need a lot of trained welders, and I will be able to provide a different lifestyle for my family.”
Montez and his wife, Rosie, have four children, Cynthia, 22; Brittany, 20; Joshua, 13; and Elizabeth, 9. He is finding success, and so are others.
Former Cargill employee Frankie Lopez did not let the situation derail his drive for success.
“At first I thought this was a bad thing, but I’ve since realized that it was a total blessing from God,” he said. “I believe this opened the door for me to better myself and return to school to continue my education.”
Currently, Lopez is enrolled in the Vocational Nursing program at the SPC Plainview Center. He said being a non-traditional student and going back to school after 22 years has its challenges. However, he’s willing to put in the time and effort necessary to complete the course successfully.
He said he attributes a great deal of his accomplishments to the teachers, faculty and staff at SPC. And, he is thankful he has met such wonderful people along his path.
Lopez is set to complete his second semester of the program this spring, and he is on track to complete the two-year course.