12:37 PM

Facilities Maintenance grad Jose Rodriguez-Camacho earns first-ever Grit award

Hard work and perseverance pay off for WCTC employee, alum and dad of three

Jose Grit award

In 2009, when Jose Rodriguez-Camacho was working as a staff supervisor with a contracted cleaning service hired by Waukesha County Technical College, little did he know his connection to the College was only just beginning.

He met Rhonda Howard, WCTC’s assistant director of facilities, who hired him at WCTC as a facilities worker and encouraged him to get his high school diploma. Rodriguez-Camacho had been out of school for a while, but he promised his parents that he would finish school one day. In 2011, he did. He received his GED -- and he gave his certificate to mom.

“I always knew it was important for me to go back and get my high school degree, and then I realized how important school really was. I realized I needed to step it up and go back,” he said.

He continued to work at WCTC, getting two promotions and taking on more responsibilities, and made a decision to return to school in 2014 -- this time, to earn a technical diploma in Facilities Maintenance. What he learned in the classes, he said, he could apply to his job each day.

“The instructors are amazing. They explain things in a way that makes it easy to understand, and they teach you everything – electrical work, math, plumbing – everything! You learn tips and tricks that you’d never known before, and it helps with your job duties on a daily basis,” he said. “It has really helped me come up with solutions to problems.”

Beyond the skills learned in the program, what also emerged was a greater sense of pride. With three young children – ages 2, 9 and 13 – Rodriguez-Camacho said it’s important to show them that hard work, persistence and a commitment to completing your education pays off.

“I feel proud of being a role model to my kids. Every day, my (9-year-old) son comes up to me and asks me all kinds of questions,” he said. “We talk about math, we talk about the Bible, and if I’m fixing something, he asks me questions. I help him out, and he helps me out a lot.”

This past December, Rodriguez-Camacho walked across the stage at WCTC’s winter commencement ceremony and earned his technical degree and a well-deserved recognition: he was the first recipient of a newly established WCTC award, the “Grit” award. This award honors a student who has sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals, and who has overcome obstacles along the way.

Rodriguez-Camacho is not stopping with just one technical diploma. He enrolled in the Organizational Leadership program, and he hopes to take on a management role within WCTC in the future.

“It is an honor to be a part of WCTC -- a great place to work and go to school. I have a vision and plan, and that is to keep going and never give up. I took a chance, and I want to make the most of my opportunities.”

Congratulations, Jose, on your well-deserved, award!