How This CNM Graduate Turned Two Degrees And A Certification Into His Dream Career

Ricardo Leon felt stuck in his career and was ready to make a change. Now, he never gets tired of going to work.
December 06, 2022

Art has always been Ricardo Leon’s passion, and this year it became his career, too. With CNM degrees in Anthropology and Fine Arts, plus a Bench Jewelry certificate, Ricardo landed his dream job as a full-time jeweler at Turquoise Skies. 

Before becoming a jeweler, Ricardo worked in construction and mechanics. These jobs supported Ricardo, but he wasn’t happy.

“I decided I needed to make a change and I needed to make art full time. Making art on my bed just wasn’t going to cut it anymore,” Ricardo says. 

Ricardo started in Fine Arts at CNM. Two terms later, the pandemic hit and his classes moved online. Ricardo was about to complete his degree when he found CNM’s Bench Jewelry classes. 

“The jewelry class was one of the few art classes offered online that I hadn’t taken already,” Ricardo says. “Plus, we could set up our own jewelry benches at home, so I was able to get ‘studio’ time again.”

Ricardo graduated with his Fine Arts associate and his Bench Jewelry certificate in January 2022, and then earned his Anthropology associate in May 2022. With his education and his hands-on skills, he quickly moved into a jewelry career. 

“I was able to get the position at Turquoise Skies and start working immediately. I understood all but three of the machines, and one of them was the cash register,” Ricardo says with a laugh. “The CNM jewelry classes really provided the perfect training environment.”

Along with southwestern turquoise jewelry, Ricardo likes to practice ancient jewelry making techniques with a modern twist, blending his anthropology, jewelry, and art knowledge. 

At 41, Ricardo is thankful that CNM offered him a way to change his life. 

“It took me a long time to get the motivation to go back to school, and I knew that changing myself meant going back and getting an education,” Ricardo says. “Between the fine art, jewelry, and anthropology programs, I was funneled into something that I have wanted to do since I was a teenager.”