Juan Alcala grew up working alongside his father at their car shop. He was 6 years old when he developed his passion for cars.
“It’s in my blood line---there is something about cars I can’t look away from,” Alcala said.
Recently, he traveled to Kentucky with his classmates and competed in the SkillsUSA 54th Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in the collision repair technology category.
He won the bronze, beating student mechanics from across the nation.
Alcala returned to TSTC Waco as the first person since the 1990s to place in his category.
“It was astonishing. [It] caught me off guard [that] I placed and made history; it’s kind of cool,” Alcala said.
For Alcala, his biggest reward was not bringing home a medal, but making his mentors and his father proud.
“To me, it was a very proud moment for myself. I had finally met his expectations,” Alcala said. “He was very proud of me. It was the first time we’d ever done something like this.”
His instructor, Philip McKee, was not surprised Alcala placed at nationals.
“Craftsmanship of Juan’s work is probably the top here at the school, obviously---the best in the state of Texas---and I wasn’t really surprised at all that he placed at nationals,” McKee said.
Alcala said this is only the beginning of his journey.
“Only one thing we can do, and it is to better ourselves as we go along,” Alcala said.