Since high school, I have had a passion for engineering and have always planned to get a degree in that field. However, despite being told multiple times that taking a gap year was a bad decision, I wasn’t sure I was financially ready for college. In the end, I decided to take a gap year to work and build up my finances.
In 2015, I finally enrolled in ECC’s associate in engineering science program. I was sort of anxious about being overwhelmed by the amount of coursework a full-time student takes on, so I chose to take it slow. In my first semester, I took only two classes. As the semesters went on, I became more comfortable with my time management and the amount of studying required. I took more classes until I was eventually going full-time. With the completion of my degree in the spring of 2018, I was accepted for transfer to Northern Illinois University to continue my studies in mechanical engineering.
However, my experience at NIU was not a pleasant one, and I decided to withdrawal in the middle of my second semester. I still wanted to pursue engineering and design, so I reenrolled at ECC to study computer-aided design and computer integrated manufacturing. This pairing was perfect for me because not only was I passionate about each subject, many of the required classes overlapped, allowing me to stack degrees. As I neared the finish line, one of my incredible instructors, Umberto Tinajero, informed me of a new certification program at ECC: CNC Programmer. This is a topic that I am passionate about, and I was again able to stack courses, leaving just two more classes between me and another certificate.
Being amongst the first generation of students to earn the CNC Programmer certificate, I leave ECC with a sense of immense pride and gratitude. My hard work and dedication paid off by completing my three degrees and several certificates, all with high honors while remaining debt-free. My high honors status could not have been possible, however, without the help of my instructors: Kenneth Beynon, Jesse Bader, Chris Sikora, and Umberto Tinajero. They taught their courses with passion and a deep commitment to their students, which inspired me to perform at my best.
One piece of advice that I have for those attending college for the first time is there is no right or wrong way to attend college. Do not let anyone tell you what you should or should not do. Do what makes you happy. Go at your own pace.
Justin Martinez ‘21
Associate in Engineering Science (’18)
Associate of Applied Science - Computer-Aided Design
Associate of Applied Science - Computer Integrated Manufacturing
CNC Programmer Basic Certificate