Female auto collision student enjoys rigors of the program

LEVELLAND -- When Alexandria Dominica Hernandez entered the Automotive Collision Program at South Plains College, she knew she was prepared for success. The Whiteface graduate said throughout her life that she needed to hone skills that would make her career path. The first step began with independence.

Raised mostly by her mother, Darsy Villarreal, Alexandria and her brother Joe both share a love of cars and trucks, she said. While Joe prefers to restore older models trucks, Alexandria said she enjoys repairing cars.

“I like to fix cars that are really messed up with dents and hail damage,” she said. “My dad (Jose Hernandez) got me interested in cars when I was around 14. I’ve learned how to fix the little things, and now I’m ready to fix the bigger problems. My mom’s boyfriend, Brent Hulse, also helped me get into vehicles.”

HernandezAlexandria said her mother often told her to learn to be confident and rely on herself. She came to SPC armed with a skill set and an ambition to study the automotive collision repair business.

From the beginning, the freshman said she didn’t let the fact that she was the only female in a class with nine guys.

“The guys are nice but I try to do things by myself, and I try not to ask them for help,” she said.

Alexandria said each day in the program is full of new learning experiences. She enjoys the hands-on aspect of the program where she can apply what they are studying in the textbook to real life fenders, door and hoods.

“Most of the time we are already doing things in the shop before we read about them in the book,” she said.

The self-paced atmosphere of the lab allows Alexandria the opportunity to observe the skill level of her classmates to make sure she is equal to the task. She said there are two guys in the class who are more experienced than the rest of them. Her instructor in automotive collision repair is Jim Wisian. She said he is a great instructor and he encourages them to learn at their own pace so they are ready to progress to the next objective.

Presently, Alexandria is studying to earn her Certificate of Completion in Automotive Repair. She said she one day wants to own her own shop. She plans to find employment in the area once she’s completed her studies.

As the only female in the class, Alexandria said she knows she sticks out. However, she would like to see more females in the program.

“I hope to inspire women to not be afraid to get their hands dirty,” she said. “Life is not always cupcakes and rainbows – you should do your own thing. I am.”