HVAC Student at FCC Pembroke Pines Selected for FAPSC Scholarship
At 38 years old, Antonio Cortes said he was tired of bouncing from job to job. From working customer service and retail to his most recent positions in building maintenance, Antonio said he was ready to buckle down and focus on a specific profession – one from which he could build a long-term future.
“Through my work in building maintenance I became familiar with HVAC and it interested me,” Antonio said. “So it was really the best route for me. Plus, I dabbled in it here and there in my job, and some in my family are plumbers, electricians and so on, who know a little about the field.”
Antonio graduated from the program in June and has already earned a full-time position he loves at a local company that provides HVAC service, maintenance and installation.
But, he still has school loans to pay for, which is why it came as a pleasant surprise when he learned last month that he was awarded at $1,000 scholarship by the FAPSC (Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges) Foundation.
FCC is a member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC), which serves as an advocate for career schools and colleges in the state. The FAPSC Foundation is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded for the sole purpose of providing tuition assistance to qualifying individuals interested in pursuing education through FAPSC member schools.
Three times per year, the Foundation awards 10 students with scholarships from among its member schools. Antonio was selected from the applicants in the spring cycle for 2021 for a $1,000 scholarship.
Being named a recipient of this financial assistance was welcome news for Antonio, who said the scholarship nearly cut his student debt in half.
“It’s a huge boost, and oh man, I was ecstatic when I heard I’d gotten [the scholarship],” he said. “One thousand dollars … for some people that might not be much, but for me, it’s a lot. It’s pretty much like winning the lottery.”
Inspired by Family, Trained for the Real World
Antonio dropped out of high school as a teen but was later able to earn his GED. Now in his late-30s, his oldest son is about to start college, and this got him thinking about the possibilities that may exist within his own future.
“I kind of wanted to start a career finally,” he said. “I was tired of just having a job. I wanted something I could start a future from and something I could eventually retire from. Also, the fact that I have kids of my own, and one of them is starting college, inspired me to get an education and further my career.”
Antonio said he was drawn to FCC because it offered hands-on career training in HVAC. And, he said the school – especially the instructors at the school – definitely delivered on this training.
“The teachers there are the best I’ve ever had by far,” he said. “Their attention to detail, the amount of attention they put into us – they were very thorough and easy to understand and follow. And, the hands-on experience … they were side-by-side with us every step of the way.”
Pembroke Pines HVAC instructor Dean Richards, he added, was especially adept at preparing Antonio and the other students to be ready and able to work immediately after graduation.
“I can’t even put into words how good of a teacher he was,” Antonio said. “After lectures, he would stay a little later and would put me on a machine and have me working. We’d do some creative work with copper pipping and work on the strategies of how to apply what I was learning to day-to-day work in the field.”
“Antonio was an outstanding student that never missed a day. He embodied what you want from a student and a future HVAC technician,” Dean said. “Antonio was the first one at class and last one to leave. He is a remarkable team player that was always willing to help his classmates.”
Thanks to FCC and its instructors, Antonio said he was indeed ready to confidently begin working in the HVAC field immediately after graduation. This proved ideal as he was hired as a service, maintenance and installation technician almost immediately.
While still early in his career, he said he already loves the direction he’s going.
“I’ve only just started, and they’ve already entrusted me with a truck of my own,” he said. “And soon, I’ll be going on service and maintenance calls on my own.”
“From all of us at FCC Pembroke Pines, congratulations to Antonio for all he has achieved and for being selected as a recipient of a FAPSC Foundation scholarship! We want to thank the Foundation for awarding a truly deserving student,” said Gregory Falcon, Executive Director.
“The FAPSC Foundation was founded for students just like Antonio. The sole mission of the foundation is to offer scholarship possibilities to students attending FAPSC member schools,” said Linda Weldon, FAPSC Foundation Executive Director. “Each cycle, as I read through the applications and accompanying personal essays, I am touched by these stores. Each is unique to the individual but there is a common thread that is woven through them all—the importance of education and training to facilitate change for them and their families. Many have lost jobs due to Covid and are using this opportunity to move into fields they have only dreamed of. Many are single parents and often even supporting other members of their family. Many are first generation college students and they are anxious to set an example for their children.
“It is the sincere hope of the Foundation that the $1,000 Scholarship that has been awarded them will send the message that they are not alone. That there are others out there who want to help them achieve their goals,” Linda added.
To learn more about the FAPSC Foundation visit fapscfoundation.org.