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Waubonsee Student Torres-Escobedo Overcomes Barriers, Chases Dreams While Excelling in Automotive Technology Program

J. Eduardo Torres-Escobedo

J. Eduardo Torres-Escobedo has never shied away from big dreams.

However, it took a semester of English 102 at Waubonsee Community College before Torres-Escobedo realized his dreams might not be as far away as he had first believed.

“Coming from a different country, I didn’t consider college because, with my language abilities, I didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “But after I finished that class, English 102, I said, ‘You know what? I can actually do this. I can finish this.’”

In the months and years since, Torres-Escobedo has used that realization to shift his future into gear, letting out the throttle a bit more with each passing day in pursuit of desires that are no longer idle daydreams, but concrete possibilities within reach, as one of the top students in Waubonsee’s Automotive Technology program.

For such dedication and drive, Waubonsee is pleased to recognize J. Eduardo Torres-Escobedo as the college’s Featured Student for the month of May.

From his earliest memories, Torres-Escobedo has known he was intrigued by the way things work, disassembling and reassembling various
contraptions, and in the process, often modifying them to make them
better.   

But a career powered by a college education seemed such a long way off when he first immigrated to the United States a little over a decade ago.

Coming to Aurora to live with his mother, Torres-Escobedo began working in a restaurant and discovered how stark a language barrier can be.

“It was really frustrating not being able to communicate,” he said. “So, I had this dream of going to school, but how could I do that, when I couldn’t even communicate here? I gave up my dream of school, and decided to keep working.”

While in the U.S., Torres-Escobedo married Maribel Gonzalez, and together, they have two daughters, Amarylis and Athziry, now 10 and 7, respectively.

For the last eight years, he has worked full-time in a warehouse in Aurora.

His outlook changed, however, about six years ago when his mother began attending English as a Second Language classes at Waubonsee, and asked him to come with her. When he began attending the remedial English classes, he was surprised to find a number of students in the classes who had lived all their lives in the U.S.

“It let me see there were some real possibilities here,” he said.

It wasn’t long before the desire to continue his education reignited, and from there, Torres-Escobedo began taking more and more classes.
Subsequent skills and placement testing, along with guidance from Waubonsee counselors, prompted him to enroll in Waubonsee’s Automotive Technology program.

And Torres-Escobedo quickly recognized a path forward in his life.

“I’ve always liked to create things, to modify things,” he said. “But this wasn’t only about fixing cars. There were endless possibilities here.”

Ken Kunz, Professor of Automotive Technology, said he has been amazed by Torres-Escobedo’s capacity to learn, his seemingly innate skills with automobiles and other devices, and his dedication and persistence in furthering his education.

“It’s so great to watch him learn,” said Kunz. “He’ll take on any challenge presented to him, and he goes full-throttle to his end result. He never gives up.”

But Kunz said he most admires Torres-Escobedo’s pride in his work.

“He doesn’t let anything leave our shop without exhausting attention to detail,” he said. “He’s willing to own his work, to autograph it, and that’s really great to see in any student.”

Torres-Escobedo recognizes his skill with a wrench, among other tools. But automotive repair and modification is just one among many career options open to him, he said.

He noted a particular interest in working with renewable energy, as he said such technology holds promise not only for his new home in the U.S., but also for his ancestral homeland in Mexico.

He hopes, however, to parlay his education into a future in manufacturing something to make the world better.

For now, he intends to continue working toward an associate degree, and, from there, a bachelor’s degree, and perhaps more, at a four-year institution.

“I want to get into the field, be able to change things, and make things better,” Torres-Escobedo said.