With nearly a full load of classes at Cuyamaca College and a full-time job to help support his
family, Edgar Torres was stressed out enough, even before his 2003 Chevy Impala started having issues.
For Torres, going without a car isn’t an option. He lives in San Ysidro with his parents, a sister, a nephew and a niece, and works as a security guard in El Cajon in addition to attending classes at Cuyamaca. He knew he had a big – and expensive – problem on his hands when his car’s intake manifold began leaking. An auto tech student at Cuyamaca, Torres usually takes matters into his own hands when it comes to car problems, but this was no simple fix.
“I was worried about what I could do when someone in my automotive class told me about a Dreamkeepers grant he had gotten through the college,” Torres said. His father is disabled and his mother works as an elementary school aide, so Torres, 29, the primary breadwinner for his family.
“I was like, whoa, I could use some of that help,” he said, adding that a payday loan would have probably been his only other option to fix his car.
When he received the welcome news that his application for a Dreamkeepers grant had been approved, Torres was ecstatic. The grant covered the $500 car repair bill and also provided him a gas card to help pay his travel expenses.
“There are so many students with needs,” said Torres, who is working toward earning the advanced automotive certification to become a technician. He aspires to start up an automotive brake shop of his own and then someday, expanding his business into a franchise. “I am so very grateful and appreciative to have been considered for the Dreamkeepers program.”
After two years at Cuyamaca College, Torres is looking to transfer to San Diego State University as a business major to obtain the know-how to become an entrepreneur. And somewhere down the line, he hopes to return to a community college, next time to teach in an automotive program.
“You have to just keep your eyes on the prize,” he responded when asked what he thinks is the secret to success.