How CNM Helped This Retired Police Officer Start a New Career In Welding

Kenneth Gonzales graduated with top marks from CNM and is now teaching welding to high school and college students in Socorro
September 27, 2022

Like son like father isn’t how the saying goes, but it’s how things worked for Kenneth Gonzales. 

Kenneth, a dedicated police officer who spent a total of 21 years in law enforcement down in Socorro, New Mexico, was ready to retire from that job but knew he wanted to continue working in the community. He saw how successful his son had been after graduating from CNM’s Welding program and figured that was a strong path forward.

“Straight out of CNM my son found an incredible and high-paying job and it was clear that CNM’s Welding program was one of the best,” Kenneth says. “I had welded my entire life and grown up with my grandpa and my dad welding, but I needed to take my skills to the next level.”

Kenneth enrolled at CNM in 2019 and spent one term on campus. But then COVID hit and everything went online for a period. Such a hands-on program could have floundered under the pandemic restrictions, but Kenneth says that thanks to the dedication of the CNM Welding instructors, he and the other students continued to receive high-level training.  

“I was welding at home, but all the instructors were incredible. They shared their phone numbers with us and we were able to text over photos and they immediately gave us feedback and tips that kept us moving forward. The instruction, even when it was remote, was second-to-none,” he says. 

After the COVID restrictions lifted, Kenneth came back on campus for two terms and continued perfecting his skills. He went on to win the Ron Hackney prize for Welding, which is given to a top-caliber student who maintains a high GPA and demonstrates excellence in character and leadership. 

After graduating, Kenneth worked as a welder and then was approached about teaching. He started by teaching welding classes at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech) and then took on a class at Socorro High School.

The High School quickly saw the value of his instruction, and soon Kenneth was brought on as a full-time welding instructor. And that’s where he is today. He works with high school students throughout the year, still teaches classes at NM Tech, and has also started helping CNM students who are from Socorro and want a little extra welding practice. 

“I sell CNM every day to my students because I know how valuable it is,” Kenneth says. “ I also know that a four-year college is not for every student, but all students can find a home at CNM in welding or whatever they choose to study. CNM is an incredible resource and we’re so lucky to have it right up the road.”