Q&A: Female mechanic defies expectations, social pressures

Photo by David Silva/The Et Cetera

Kimberly Fernanda Lopez will be the first female student to graduate from the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training, a two-year program toward an Associate of Applied Science in automotive technology for future Honda and Acura service technicians. Having tinkered with cars since she was young, Lops plans to pursue a career in automotive exterior design. Reporter Jacquelyne Rojas sat down with Lopez and to discuss the obstacles she has faced and her plans for the future.

Q

Why did you choose Eastfield College?

A

Well originally, I was going to move to Universal Technical Institute after I graduated high school, but it was going to be around 30 to 45 grand for one year… and another 10 grand for the housing. Basically because it’s more financially stable, economically easier to pay for than when you’re going

to school for only one year and have to pay so much money. This is more fun, too.

Q

Why did you choose the automotive program?

A

My parents had me at a very young age. My mom was only 19. My dad was 20. They weren’t exactly making it rain, and they were just going to work to feed me and pay the [rent] and whatnot. My dad is not a mechanic, but he likes cars, and he would always install radios and stuff like that, tinker with cars. So he thought, ‘If I can save up 20 bucks by not taking you to the baby sitter and just bringing you with me, and if you just sit there and not do anything, that would be great.’ But of course I didn’t just sit there, I’d be like, ‘What are you doing? Hey, what does that do?’ So my dad was the main resource.

Q

Did anyone disapprove of your decision to become a mechanic?

A

My mom actually wanted me to go into cosmetology saying, ‘You can do my nails, mija, fix my hair!’ And I was like ‘No, I’d rather stick to cars.’ My mom said to me, ‘You shouldn’t be there, that’s not what women should be doing.’ Her motive was traditionally Mexican. She’s told me many times, but I always tell her that it’s the job, and I like it.”

Q

How do you feel knowing you’re the first female to graduate this program? ?

A

OK, honestly, I don’t really care toward that. It’s not really about, ‘Oh, first female! Woo-hoo! Give me props, and hey, I’m in the room, so watch out.’ I’m not big on titles or being the center of attention; it’s more of I enjoy doing it and I want to do it right. Apparently it’s a big deal, but I don’t see it’s a big deal.

Q

What does the future look like for you?

A

What I really want to do is exterior design. I want to design the body and the shape of vehicles, do more inspiring designs. I am still going to keep going on with college, graduate with my associate as well as get my bachelor’s. I have two options laying down right now. One is in the state of Utah. The other one is going to California, which I’m considering really hard because it’s really expensive. It’s called the Art Center College of Design and, it’s close to Los Angeles. It’s one of the schools that has had a lot of successful designers.

Q

What advice would you give other young women with similar aspirations?

A

Don’t let them get to you. If you plan on achieving greater things, don’t stay stuck here. Think ahead. For instance, back in February, one of them said that I was too short and that I wasn’t going to be able to graduate because I’m too short. I was like, ‘Watch me!’ So never let them get to you because if you do, that just labels them to get higher and farther out, and it’s not worth you breaking down and having to get back up. Asking questions is OK because sometimes other people have the same questions. When you’re in class, ask your mind out.

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