Adam Lopez is not afraid to change his mind. What some people see as “failure,” he sees as steps to where he needs to go. For nearly a decade, Lopez has been searching for a livelihood that not only brings home a paycheck, but brings him joy. Now, as he begins his career as an Electrical Technician, he finally feels he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.
Lopez joined the United States Marine Corps at 25 years old and served as a Helicopter Mechanic, then left five years later and took a job in manufacturing at SpaceX. After two years there, he started to look for his next move, but found himself stuck in the field of aviation manufacturing. This just wasn’t cutting it for him. “I wanted to find a job that would help people,” Lopez said. “I wanted to feel like I have a purpose in life again.”
He decided to get his bachelor’s degree in hopes that continued education would open the right doors for his career. Lopez earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Disaster Management in May 2022. But, something still felt off and he struggled to find work.
“I felt for a long time that a part of me was missing and a little lost for a few years,” he said. “When I got out of the Marine Corps, I felt like I was going in circles with no purpose and after going to college, it still didn’t make a difference in bettering my life. I was stuck in my aviation contractor job with no way out.”
Lopez sat back and thought about a time when ‘work’ was enjoyable. He remembered helping his dad with electrical work growing up – running wire, wiring houses, fixing plugs, switches, and power supply. He knew he enjoyed working with his hands and training others, and the job security of the electrical field would provide a certainty of work that he wasn’t experiencing in aviation manufacturing.
He found the Electrical Technician (ET) program at UEI College in Chula Vista. As soon as he arrived on campus, he knew this was the program and the place he needed to be. “The atmosphere, the instructors, and on-the-job training all brought me back to when I helped my dad,” Lopez said. “It also made me remember the people we helped. Seeing the joy on their faces when the lights come back on. This might seem like a small thing, but you never know. Maybe this is their first time having a place of their own, maybe it’s their first time having running electricity.”
Lopez completed the 10-month program at UEI and graduated in May 2023. He says he’s excited about all of the opportunities the electrical field has to offer and looks forward to continued learning throughout his career. He’s feeling confident in his job search and is waiting for the right opportunity to cross his path so he can show off his skills and work ethic.
“Now that I have an opportunity to become an electrician, it feels like a breath of fresh air and I am alive again,” Lopez said.
“I had the privilege to have Adam as a student. He was always 15 minutes early to all his classes and was the last person to walk out every night. In class and out of class Adam was always ready to help,” said ET Instructor Richard Gomez. “I believe someday I will be going down the street and I will run into Adam with his own company name down the side of his truck.”
His journey to the electrical field was a long one, but Lopez urges others to not be afraid to change their minds and take steps to build a life they love that includes their job. “Take a step back, take a deep breath,” he said. “You don’t know if you don’t like something until you actually step into the studies of that field and start working, sometimes you find out that it’s not for you. Some people assume that’s failing and it’s not. You’re not failing. You are finding what interests you and what doesn’t.”