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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Husband and wife double team the Online Construction Management program

February 11, 2015
Online Construction Management graduates Rupi and Jose
Husband-wife Construction Management team claims their hard-won reward at graduation.

Rupi and Jose Garcia have been together for 15 years and married for 12. They share the ups and downs of raising a family and running a business, so why not a “classroom” as well?

“It was my idea,” enthuses Jose, who started his own construction business, Zion Builders, in 2007, and where Rupi also works. Jose wanted to take the next step toward becoming a civil engineer, as well as sharpen his knowledge beyond what he had picked up in his 25 years in the field; and he wanted Rupi to understand what he had to deal with at work every day.

It was a great idea for both of them, and the 14-month online Construction Management program paid off in many ways.

“Now I can step out in the field and know what is right and what is wrong with the project; and I can bring up important issues,” says Rupi. “I’m a better backbone for Jose; and if he is behind on something he knows that I can step in and take over.”

Jose has complete confidence in his newly minted partner. “It’s pressure off my back because she understands what I’m doing,” he says. “She can see what I’m seeing and I know she knows what she is doing. Now I can breathe and it’s awesome”

There was another benefit to the Construction Management program that Jose had not anticipated.

“I thought I was organized, but the class brought me back down to reality that I was nowhere near to knowing how to organize a business the right way – and that’s the key to making it,” says Jose.

The Construction Management program is fast-paced, and keeping up with school while working full-time and raising Yazmeen (9) and Andy (6), was very difficult for the Garcias.

“Alex (Nolasco, Student Advisor) kept us pumped up and always reminded us of the reason we started this insanity,” says Rupi. “I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and tell the kids they needed to further their education if I didn’t have a degree under my belt.”

Much to their surprise, both Jose and Rupi made the Dean’s List. “They had their challenges in the program, but never once did they give up,” says Alexandria Nolasco. “They helped and motivated each other along the way and together, with their family, they did it.”

The Online Construction Management program was definitely the way to go for the Garcias. “You don’t have to have a scheduled time to be somewhere,” says Rupi. “After the dishes are done and the kids are in bed, I can sit down to do school work for an hour or two.”

Jose, who was born in El Salvador, and Rupi, American born of East Indian descent, were a good study team, too. “I could rock it out in math and he could help me with concrete,” laughs Rupi.

They graduated last September and walked across the stage to get their diplomas with the Rancho Cordova campus graduates on November 14th. It was a proud moment.

“The kids were very happy and they had these little sparkly eyes going,” says Jose. “They will remember us doing this and why we are doing it. That’s what I was looking for.”

But, their story does not end there.

Jose came up the hard way, digging ditches for a plumber and moving up the ranks until he was the manager for a home builder. After Jose started Zion Builders and got his contractor’s license, they did it all: custom home builds, reconstruction, flips – just about everything. Jose had to figure a lot of it out on his own, and he would like to help young people to get a foothold.

“A lot of people starting out in this business struggle and go under,” says Jose. “There is a right way to go into business and stay in business.”

“This degree is a step for me to become a civil engineer,” he says. “As a company owner, my end goal is to be an instructor who takes internships and teaches this program in the field. Teaching is my thing and I love it.”

Rupi has her own teaching moments. “Work hard, play hard, I always tell my kids,” she says. “We will work our butts off, then have fun.”

She turns serious when she speaks of her husband. “He is my best friend and is there for every one of my steps, pushing me along,” says Rupi. “We know the best and the worst of each others’ lives, so we each inspire each other to rise as high above that as we can.”

It is all in the teamwork.

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