A Few Years, a Lot of Life
Enrique Loza has crammed a lot of life into his 22-years. He worked part-time for a convenience store throughout high school, while he juggled studies and thought about college. “Everyone in my family – brother, sisters and my mom – has gone to college,” says Enrique.
But plans took a detour when just out of high school Enrique and his now wife, Saliena, found out their son, Aadyn was on the way. Enrique went to work for a local Hanford dairy, doing ‘outside labor’ for 60-hours a week. He buckled down.
The hard-earned income allowed his family to buy a house. “When my real estate agent heard I was only 20-years old, he said, ‘Whoa, you’re young,’” he laughed. “But I knew that houses were really at a low price, and with my work experience I qualified for credit. Now my house is worth $30,000 more than when I bought it,” says Enrique. The house was a good move – especially since their daughter, Aalyna, joined the family a few months ago.
But, college was never too far from his mind, and Enrique and Saliena had a deal. When she finished her Medical Assisting training, it would be his turn to go back to school. That was finally possible in October, 2012, when Enrique enrolled in the Visalia campus’s Industrial Technology program. Enrique’s older brother, Heriberto, had graduated from the IT program a few months earlier and encouraged him to do the same.
Enrique knew his brother was right when he got to Mr. Clyde’s class. “He makes sure that we get everything in our heads, that we actually learn something,” says Enrique, who especially likes the hands-on action in class. “He’s not just there for a paycheck,” he says. “He even gives us little McDonald’s gift certificates out of his own pocket, which makes us try even harder.” But, Enrique doesn’t need much motivation to work hard; it has been his natural characteristic all his young life.
Enrique is still working those 60-hour weeks; his only day off is Saturdays. He very much misses time with his family. “My boy is three; growing up so fast,” he says. “Ever since high school, I’ve been working so much to have more time with my family.” He has felt both desperation and inspiration along the way.
It is all about to change. “I have the work experience and now I’ll have the education to back me up and give me that extra punch on my resume,” says Enrique. He is ready for the new life ahead.
Like the mature-before-his-years guy he is, Enrique sums it up best. “I want to do better in life. I don’t want to just be alive…I want to live.” He has earned it.
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