Residents at Otero Earn HVAC Certifications at Latest Graduation
The Otero County Prison Facility in Chaparral, New Mexico, recently held a graduation where residents earned nine certifications in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC program. Resident George Tice spoke at the graduation.
“And I think I speak for all of us,” he said, “when I say thank you to all of those responsible for allowing us the privilege to do this.”
The HVAC program was made possible through a partnership with the nearby Dona Ana Community College, which certified the new technicians. Bobby McKenna is another resident graduate.
“It’s a big thing,” he says. “It’s a giant accomplishment that we’ve done. Especially for me. Going through it, seeing that graduation was just unbelievable.”
With family members unable to attend the graduation ceremony in person, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were able to join via Zoom.
“You could tell the family members were excited,” says HVAC instructor Fernando Gonzalez, “and they had a great time watching their family members graduate.”
At the graduation podium, George Tice continued his praise of the facility for making the HVAC certification program available.
“Warden Martinez, it would be interesting if we could take everybody that is sitting in here and everybody that is watching and walk them outside to the HVAC building so they can actually see the building, see all the tools that we have in the tool shed out there, see the training aids, the air conditioners, the heaters, all the audio visual aids, the books and all the materials and furnishings out there. And then, if you could tell us what it gets to each one of those approved, funded, purchased, delivered, and secured. Then maybe everybody could get a little glimpse of what you have done to make this program happen.”
“I feel this is just the beginning of something big,” explains Instructor Gonzalez. “I mean, my goal for this program is to be a very stable program and hopefully have a lot of graduates from this program, so we can help them succeed in life; give them an opportunity to get a job once they get out of here and to get them ready to get back into society.”
“It is a very strong course,” says Bobby McKenna, “and it’s very mentally challenging, but it’s good to set you up for when you get out. Thank you for bringing this here and giving us the opportunity to be able to prove ourselves, and to be [treated like] adults and to help us be more productive citizens.”