Pembroke Pines Student Takes His Shot in the HVAC Program, Earns Home Depot Foundation Scholarship
As Michael Miranda grew up splitting time between living in Florida and the Bronx, NY, he got to know a number of people – both friends and acquaintances – who he generally considered to be high-quality handymen. And, he was always impressed by their eagerness to share what they knew.
It’s something he’d like to emulate one day.
“When I was young growing up, and even recently these last couple of years, you always run into a few people here and there who genuinely want to pass their knowledge down to you,” he said. “I want to be in a position to do the same at some point.”
Currently a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) student at Florida Career College’s (FCC) HVAC Program in Pembroke Pines, Michael envisions one day opening a community workshop that teaches kids ages 13 and older the basic fundamentals of handyman work – skills like drywall, basic electric, HVAC, and so on.
“It would be my way of returning the favor – of giving back to the next generation so they have knowledge they can use and grow from, and maybe use it toward establishing an essential career,” he said. “These are skills and jobs that never go away once you learn them.”
Michael recently shared this vision in a scholarship essay, and it led to what amounts to one of his first contributions toward his goal – a $2,000 scholarship from The Home Depot Foundation’s Path to Pro Scholarship by SkillPointe Foundation.
The Home Depot Foundation’s Path to Pro scholarship program is part of its commitment to invest $50 million in training the next generation of skilled tradespeople while bridging opportunity gaps. Financial assistance for students entering or currently enrolled in building construction trade programs, such as FCC’s HVAC program, represent $250,000 of this total commitment.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry is facing a growing labor shortage in 2021 despite boasting nearly 300,000 career openings which offer competitive incomes.
TAKING HIS SHOT IN THE HVAC FIELD
Michael, 32, began his work career in the customer service sector. Having always enjoyed fixing things and working with his hands, however, he eventually changed careers to become a traveling handyman.
“I always had this inner pride whenever I’d fix something or make something,” he said. “It’s the instant satisfaction that hey, I did something right. It’s the ego boost and confidence enhancement of knowing there was a problem and I was able to fix it.”
Though he loved the work, Michael said traveling state to state to take on random jobs started to get exhausting. Plus, he wanted to settle and make a more stable life for himself in southern Florida. Exactly how he would do this came into clearer focus for him one day after work.
“That day, I came home from work early, and it just clicked,” he said. “Something had to change. I’ve always wanted to go into HVAC, and I decided to take my shot.”
His shot involved reaching out to Florida Career College in Pembroke Pines, which he knew offered HVAC career training. That same day, he enrolled in the school, worked out his financial aid, and set up a class schedule.
He started his first class, Basic Refrigeration Theory and Application, in April of this year.
“It didn’t take me off-guard or anything, but the place is really nice, the staff is very professional, and they go out of their way to let us know information and help us out,” Michael said, pointing out a member of the faculty urged him to apply for The Home Depot Foundation’s Path to Pro Scholarship. “It’s one of the best, most quality college experiences I’ve had. Here, they remember your name. I can meet one staff member one time, and they’re remember me the next time they see me.”
According to members of the Pembroke Pines faculty, Michael has indeed been memorable as a standout student.
“Michael is the one student in my classes that carries himself in a humble way, speaks up at the right times, helps other students around him, and over time, consistently impresses me with his acquired knowledge in HVAC,” said Luis Medina, an HVAC instructor at FCC in Pembroke Pines.
REAL-WORLD INSTRUCTION FOR LARGE-SCALE GOALS
Furthermore, Michael said he appreciates that his instructors, Luis Medina and Dean Richards, focus as much on practical learning as they do on classroom theory and instruction.
“They both have been on top of the ball,” he said. “They hit us with real-life scenarios even when they’re addressing curriculum. They’re really good interpersonal instructors. They give us the real.”
“Michael is an outstanding student, very smart, highly motivated, and a team player,” said HVAC instructor Dean Richards. “He is a model student who we are very proud of.”
When he completes the FCC HVAC program, which is projected to happen in early 2022, Michael says he would like to focus his work in commercial systems and contracts. As far as focusing on a type of system – AC or refrigeration versus heating and ventilation – he remains open.
“I’m pretty fresh in it,” he said. “I just know that I want to do it on a bigger level in commercial.”
And, of course, he looks forward to developing his concept for establishing a community workshop for teens once he’s settled into a career. Giving back is important to Michael, and winning The Home Depot Foundation’s Path to Pro Scholarship by SkillPointe Foundation only helps to hasten his ability to do so.
“The scholarship ended up paying off the balance I owed the school,” Michael said. “It definitely gives me a lot of breathing room, so I’m definitely grateful for this.”
“Michael shows the attributes we all want in a Florida Career College student,” said Gregory Falcon, Executive Director of FCC’s Pembroke Pines campus. “He is a very caring individual who does not miss an opportunity to show his value as a student. With exceptional attendance and extremely high grades, he has made a name for himself in the HVAC program.”
About The Home Depot Foundation
The Home Depot Foundation works to improve the homes and lives of U.S. veterans, train skilled tradespeople to fill the labor gap and support communities impacted by natural disasters. Since 2011, the Foundation has invested more than $375 million in veteran causes and improved more than 50,000 veteran homes and facilities. The Foundation has pledged to invest half of a billion dollars in veteran causes by 2025 and $50 million in training the next generation of skilled tradespeople through the Path to Pro program. To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation visit HomeDepotFoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @HomeDepotFound and on Facebook and Instagram @HomeDepotFoundation.