Faces of CNM: Raul Ayala

Raul was accepted into schools like Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University, but he relied on his gut instinct and chose to be a CNM Carpentry student
March 22, 2022

Raul Ayala graduated with honors from UNM in 2017 and was accepted into graduate school at several prestigious universities including the University of California-Davis, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Georgetown. He thought he was going to become an academic but then changed his mind and instead enrolled in the Carpentry program at CNM.

“Ultimately, I realized that I would rather take a less conventional approach,” Raul says. “I also started to notice that some of the people who I admire the most are people who worked with their hands but were also writers.”

Taking a cue from famous writers who were also interested in carpentry such as Henry David Thoreau and Horacio Quiroga, Raul enrolled in CNM’s woodworking classes this past spring.

“I have a very broad set of interests and have always striven for that renaissance man ideal,” Raul says. “I knew I wanted to try something different and learn a skilled trade, so I decided to try woodworking.”

Although he's only been attending CNM for a few months now, Raul is already impressed with the value and quality of the Carpentry program. He especially appreciates having the opportunity to exercise his own creativity and apply that to his projects.

“I worked in a cabinet shop for a year and I learned a lot there, but there’s a place for learning and there’s a place for business,” Raul says. “When you’re in a learning environment like CNM, someone is there to teach you the techniques and you’re able to take the time to learn the details of the trade and explore.”

Raul plans to spend the next 18 months earning his certificate in Carpentry. In the meantime he’s making his living as a handyman assembling furniture and completing minor home repairs. The goal is to continue growing his business by incorporating the skills he learns in class. 

“You can’t outsource that kind of work,” Raul says. “If you need your cabinets fixed or a pipe bursts, you can’t just pick up the house and send it to China for someone to fix it. Someone locally needs to be there.”

Raul says he would still like to attend graduate school someday, but for the moment he’s excited to learn and help promote the importance of the trades. 

“I think there’s a false dichotomy that working with your hands is not working with your mind. But there’s actually a lot of reasoning and mental planning and calculations that go into trade work,” Raul says. “That’s something that I had to learn the hard way.”