Faces of CNM: Damian Rodriguez

Dual-credit student Damian Rodriguez is still in high school but already has plans to own a trucking business
March 09, 2022

Damian Rodriguez grew up working on big rig engines so it only made sense that he gravitated toward the Diesel and Equipment Technology program when he began taking classes at CNM as a dual-credit high school student.

Damian currently attends Southwest Learning Center charter school and decided to get a jump on college by taking general education classes at CNM. After completing the necessary prerequisites he had time to enroll in the Diesel and Equipment Technology program and has already earned a certificate.

“My dad has his own truck driving business, so I grew up working on trucks and knowing how to move them, so the program helped me a lot when it comes to fixing semi-trucks or anything that runs on diesel,” Damian says.

Even though he was the only high schooler in the program, the 18-year-old says he enjoyed working side-by-side with his older peers and especially appreciated the guidance from his instructors who helped him increase his professional knowledge. Damian also liked being able to work on state-of-the-art equipment.

“I had the chance to work on a variety of ­different equipment, so it really helped me become a well-rounded technician,” he says.

Next, Damian plans to complete an associate degree in Diesel Equipment Technology and get his Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) through CNM’s Truck Driving program. With those two things in hand he’ll be able to both drive and fix a wide range of semi trucks.  

But first, Damian, who graduates from high school in May, is headed to the SkillsUSA New Mexico State Leadership & Skills Conference in April where he will compete against other high schoolers from across the state.

"I’m excited because not that many high schoolers went through the diesel program, so if I win at state I’ll go to Atlanta and get to compete against the whole nation,” Damian says.

As for what the future holds, Damian would like to start his own trucking business someday or possibly pursue his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering since he already has quite a bit of college credits.

Damian says he highly encourages high school students to take advantage of dual credit classes if they have the opportunity. Tuition and textbooks are free to high school students taking CNM dual credit classes. 

“It’s a great way for high school students like me to get ahead and try things out instead of waiting until after you graduate to figure out what you want to do,” he says.

Learn more about the Diesel and Equipment Technology program here and the CDL program here.