Sinai Rodriguez left high school before earning a diploma. He continued on with his life, managing a local Burger King, but yearned for a different career he couldn't quite define.
A random walk through his neighborhood one evening answered the mystery as Rodriguez, of Elgin, walked past a neighbor's garage and saw sparks flying as a man welded his dune buggy.
“Whatever that was, I knew I wanted to do that,” he laughed.
An ad for Elgin Community College's High School Equivalency Program inspired Rodriguez to visit campus. He enrolled and quickly completed his high school equivalency certificate along with English as a Second Language classes. When Rodriguez later learned about ECC's Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System (ICAPS) welding certificate, he knew it was the right fit for continuing his studies.
Rodriguez has forged ahead in college credit courses with help from the Rotary Club of Elgin Endowed Scholarship and the Industrial Manufacturing and Maintenance Tech Scholarship-which allowed him to afford a heavier course load to strive for his goals.
“My teachers kept encouraging me to work harder and finish,” he confided. “I will earn my associate degree in December 2017. I'm close to getting it with high honors, so I'm shooting for that.”
Aspiring to even more, Rodriguez wants to become a master welder and earn a bachelor's degree in the future.
The ECC Foundation provides support to students like Rodriguez who are working hard to achieve their goals. For more information, visit www.elgin.edu/eccfoundation.