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Friday, 30 May 2014 00:00

Rita Gonzalez from Rio Hondo, TX, Overcomes Hardships to Go After a Career in Collision Repair

When Rita Renee Gonzales was faced with the choice of giving up or continuing to fight, the 32-year-old from Rio Hondo, TX, opted to fight, according to Eladio Jaimez of the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) staff.

Gonzales has overcome health issues, recovered from job layoffs, and decided that it is never too late to return to school. Her tenacity has paid off, and the Collision Repair Education Foundation recently presented her with a $5,000 scholarship.

Gonzales is enrolled in the Automotive Collision Technology (AUB) program at TSTC and expects to graduate in Spring 2015.

The journey hasn’t been easy for Gonzales.


“I don’t know where I’d be without my family,” she said. “They’ve been so loving and supportive throughout this whole situation. They were the only ones around when I had no one else. Gonzales enrolled in the AUT program at TSTC and graduated in 2001 with a certificate. She immediately was hired by the Kellog Dealership in San Benito, TX, but was laid off soon after. She then worked as a heavy equipment operator. In 2010, she was laid off again.

The layoffs weighed heavy on Gonzales, but the biggest blow came when her health deteriorated quickly.

She wasn’t working and had no insurance. That’s where her family stepped in, helping her cope with the setbacks. “My brother and his wife urged me to go back to school,” Gonzales said.

“One day I just decided to go back,” she said. I earned all As in the fall and this spring.” Gonzales also serves as the vice president of the AUB Club.

“I’m optimistic now,” she said. “You learn from your mistakes and you learn from your struggles. You can choose to fold or you can choose to keep going.

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