SAN ANTONIO – When you walk into Southwest Legacy High School you may notice something a little different about it. One of the classrooms looks like an automobile repair garage, and it is.
The classroom garage is home to the auto tech department, where students spend four years learning how to work on automobile engines.
"Just got hooked and sometimes I would just even pretend to be a mechanic when I was a child," said Areas Velaz, a senior at Legacy High. Now, he's turning that childhood fun into a serious career path.
"I am not afraid to get my hands dirty, not afraid to get little nicks and bruises," said Magdalaena Ruiz-Marro, a Legacy High senior.
Ruiz-Marro is one of the few females in the program hoping to get into the automobile engine repair business.
As a matter of fact, she wants to own a business to make sure the prices are set so that women feel as comfortable as men when they are getting auto work done.
The students graduate from the program with several certificates and an opportunity to make a good living. The starting salary ranges from $40,000 to $70,000 a year.
Southwest High School is host to an agriculture mechanics program and a veterinarian department.
"I love my cats, my dogs, but the larger animals are a little bit more complex. They have more to it. It's more really hands-on and you have to be a little stronger," said Maria Vera, a senior at Southwest High.
Vera wants to work with livestock, pigs, cows, and horses.
She and her classmates spend part of their time testing fecal matter for worms and parasites, which is part of the job.
When she shows up at a ranch or farm to help animals, the fences holding them in could have been welded by senior Andrew Rodriguez.
"You can work on machinery, work on trailers, the electrical part. You can work on a variety of things," Rodriguez said.
He is currently working as an intern for a big company, getting valuable experience welding big machines, such as tractors. He will have a certificate when he graduates and will be ready to go to work.