Trinidad State News

Female student nails it at Trinidad State Auto Mechanics Program

Valley Campus / January 20, 2015


Twenty-nine year old, Yolanda Archuleta, is having the time of her life as she returns to her first love, auto mechanics. She grew up around it as she spent time with her dad in his 14-bay mechanic shop in Alamosa which was known as High Speed Automotive. “Dad and I have been grease monkeys together ever since I was little,” said Archuleta.

This ambitious single parent of two children earned her GED when she was only 16 and then immediately enrolled in the Cosmetology Program at Trinidad State because she liked doing nails. But she learned that she didn’t like doing hair. After one and a half semesters, she dropped out of school to take a waitress job at the Inn of the Rio Grande. She quickly moved up the ranks to food and beverage manager and then to managing sales and catering. After the sale of the Inn six years later, she worked odd jobs for several years and then decided to follow her heart. She registered for the Automotive Program at Trinidad State. “At first I was terrified to be the only girl with all these guys, but they feel more like brothers to me now,” said Archuleta. “Tanner and Pickett (Trinidad State instructors) have been great to work with and I passed my finals last semester with great grades.” She went on to explain, “Automotive work is a lot like doing nails. There’s a lot of sanding, filing, and buffing to be done to get beautiful results.” Archuleta takes great pride in her work and somehow manages to do the work while protecting her beautifully sculpted and painted nails.

To help put herself through school, Archuleta is working at Oscar’s Restaurant. She will graduate from this program in May and plans to continue her education at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs in August. She will learn about auto paint and body work. Her dream is to open her own shop in Alamosa.

“The program here is great,” said Archuleta. “I’m learning a lot and I’d like to reach out to those girls who want to take it but are afraid. I’m glad another female started the program this semester.”

A second female, twenty year-old Mirian Faldo, who moved to Alamosa eight years ago from Fort Collins, began classes on Monday, January 12. Initially she wanted to study Graphic Design but didn’t do as well as she had hoped in the required classes. When asked why she then turned to auto mechanics, she said, “It’s kind of the only thing I’m good at so I thought I’d make a career out of it.” She too learned from her dad in his auto shop, but it was with her mom’s encouragement that she decided to register and begin the classes. With only two days of classes under her belt she said, “It was scary at first, but everybody is really nice and it seems like a great place to be.”

Tanner Kingery, Automotive Program coordinator and instructor, said about Archuleta, “She’s a great student. She strives to do her best and doesn’t think there’s a gender barrier in the automotive world. Her bookwork in the classroom is exceptional and she is progressing nicely in the shop. She’s real attentive and even with her pretty finger nails, she’s not afraid to get dirty. At this point I would say she is the top female student I’ve ever had in my program. I’m happy to have her in my class. I’m also excited about the addition of another female student, Mirian Faldo, who began the program this semester.”

Robert Pickett, the other full-time instructor in the program, whole heartedly agreed. “Yolanda shows extreme dedication under the hood of a car and her problem solving skills are growing. She is not only an asset to our shop, but will be an asset wherever she works after she graduates. We’re excited to see what the future holds for her.”

The Trinidad State automotive program currently has two high school classes that meet from 8-10 a.m. Monday thru Friday and three college classes that meet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Thursday. With five lifts and nine bays, the program can accommodate about 20 students per class.

To learn more about the program call 719-589-7025.