My Story—Ralph Lopez

We had not a lot of freedom where I lived because we weren’t allowed to go outside much because it was kind of dangerous for us to go outside alone.

As a student, when I was young I really struggled. It was hard for me to do … it was hard for me to stay focused because I didn’t have any drive.

I first became involved with the Goodwill program because someone reached out to me. See, I didn’t get involved with the Goodwill until my junior year of high school. During my sophomore year of high school, I was already reaching that age where I continued to question what it is I wanted to do.

I sat down with my career counselor, and she asked me, “What do you want to do?” I told her, “I don’t know.”

She asked me, “What do you want to do? What do you like to do?”

I said, ever since I was little, I liked to put things together and take things apart. She said, “Well, that sounds an awful lot like a mechanic or an engineer.”

And so, ever since then, I kept looking around for opportunities. I went to expos and I took classes in high school like wood shop and robotics. I took those classes to see if that was something that I enjoyed, and it was. I kept looking into that, and one day, a note came to me from the career counselor. She said, “This sounds like something you might be interested in,” and it was the paper for the Goodwill Youth Aerospace Program.

I went down, and I met with a representative of the Goodwill. She gave me a packet and explained to me what the Goodwill was. She said, “This is a job training program to help you know what skills you need to be proficient in the aerospace community.” So I filled it out, and that summer, after I finished my junior year, I walked into the Goodwill, I did my interview, and I was accepted.  Ever since then it has been quite a journey.

The first year in the Goodwill program, I learned that there were quite a lot of things that were involved in not just the aerospace community, but the workforce in general. One of the first things that they taught me was soft skills. You need soft skills in order to survive. If you don’t have soft skills, then people won’t hire you.

What do I want to be when I grow up? Ok. I want to be an engineer. Right now I am in the Sno-Isle Skills Center. I’m doing precision machining, and I‘ve learned how to machine parts to a very very precise measurement. I’ve learned how to make them out of aluminum and steel. I’ve learned how to run the machines that I’ve seen people use in big companies. I learned how to run those machines. I’m also going to get involved with Everett Community College and pursue education there. I have one of five choices that the Goodwill has generously offered me.