Vidal Villagran

Vidal Villagran

LCC's 2023 Transforming Lives Award winner

Vidal Villagran Receives 2023 Transforming Lives Award

Ever since I was a young boy in my home country, I have been passionate about auto mechanics. Due to my financial circumstances, it was impossible to study mechanics there. After emigrating to the United States, I found it necessary to work constantly to provide for my family. There was never enough time or money for college. Instead of pursuing my dreams, I continued to work as a roofer until I had an unfortunate on-the-job accident.

After my injury, Labor and Industries provided me with a list of options to pursue training while I recovered. I chose LCC because of their automotive technology program. Thanks to LCC’s I-BEST program, I was able to pursue my passion of mechanics while also studying English, my second language.

Three people were instrumental in helping me find my way: my counselor at Labor and Industries, the bilingual navigator in LCC’s Basic Education for Adults program, and the advisor at LCC who helped me choose my classes and educational plan. Without their help, I would not be where I am today. I have also received scholarship support from the Lower Columbia College Foundation.

I believe becoming a mechanic will change my life for the better, and provide a much more stable future for my family. It is something I am passionate about. Unlike roofing, automotive repair is not contingent on the weather. Work doesn’t stop if the temperature is too hot or too cold. The hours are more predictable, and the work is less physically demanding than roofing. No matter where I go in the world, working on engines is something I can do.

Labor and Industries has provided support for me to receive a certificate in automotive technology, and arranged for me to work at a car dealer. My plan, however, is to stay at LCC until June, 2023 so I can focus on the electrical side of cars. I plan to receive my associate degree in automotive technology in June 2023.  I believe electric cars are the future, and hope to eventually start my own electric vehicle repair and service business. Right now there are not a lot of mechanics that focus exclusively on e-vehicles.

Prior to my injury, an unfortunate incident that turned into something great, a lack of money and time prevented me from pursuing my dreams. My advice to anyone with a dream, including others who emigrated to the U.S., is to never give up. There is so much help available, especially at LCC. My experience has been incredible. There are a lot of people available to help and encourage you. There are challenges, of course, but there are also doors. You have to find it within yourself to continue on and not give up. My advice for those whose native language is Spanish is similar. Although it may seem like a long shot to even go to college because of the language barrier, there is so much help out there. If you have the desire, you will find the path. Ask for help, and find the strength within yourself to keep going.

~Vidal Villagran

Student Stories Contact:

 Wendy Hall, Vice President, Effectiveness & College Relations, Lower Columbia College

  (360) 442-2491