Faculty Connections – Meet Carlos Villarreal

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Carlos, 65, from Weslaco, Texas, is an HVAC Instructor at the Tulsa Welding School & Technology Center in Houston. A United States Navy veteran, Carlos has been at TWSTC for about two and a half years.

Thanks for your time, Carlos. Tell us a little about your long and varied career.

I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and joined the Navy. I joined up in 1973 at 17. My parents had to sign for me and I got out in 1976. I served on the USS Enterprise, CVA(N)-65. After that I worked in the family trucking business for a while. I worked for K-Mart for ten years in management. I worked for a chemical plant for 13 years. I was a senior chemical operator my last four years there. I was usually in an office looking at, I don’t know, eight or ten screens! I also then took on the trucking company that I owned for eight years. I had four tractor trailers over the road.

I’ve been working in the HVAC field going on 15 years now. I spent about 10 years as an AC service technician before I came to teaching. I was actually doing AC work before I realized it. I used to fix the AC systems on my trucks! So, I guess it’s closer to 20 years!

Thank you for your service, Carlos. That’s quite a career! As a kid what did you want to be?

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Well, I grew up in a trucking family. My dad used to own trucks, so I figured wanted to be a truck driver or a truck company owner. I lived the dream off and of for a few years!

What made you go into teaching a few years ago?

This will be my fifth-year teaching. I work at another school for two years before I came to Tulsa, but I researched my present boss and decided to come work for him! But how I got into teaching originally, honestly, I actually just read about a teaching job on the internet as I was applying for jobs. I thought, “I could do this. I’ve been doing it in the field, so let me try it.” They took me in, they researched my background, the whole nine yards, and decided I was capable!

What do you like best about teaching?

I love passing on information and making sure kids don’t go through some of the stuff I went through! Of course, we all go through life experiences, but if I can prevent kids from going through some things I went through, well, that’s good.

Tell me something most people don’t know about you.

I’m an old athlete! I come from a family of athletes and they’re also all educators. I played basketball. I played AA baseball down in Mexico. I played softball, I played tennis. Now I’m just limited to swimming and playing golf because I blew out my right knee back in 1994.

If you could choose to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be.

President Obama, for insight into his Presidency. In my opinion he was just very bright. I guess I’m hooked up on people who can actually talk to people. I’m intrigued by people who are able to communicate, get their word out. Especially when I compare things to the last two years and then the previous four years.

Tell us about your family, Carlos.

My wife Oralia and I have been married for 37 years now. I have five grown kids. From my first marriage, I have a son and a daughter in their 40s, and from my second marriage, I have three daughters aged from 45 to my baby who is 35. I also have 15 grandkids, and two great-grandkids.

Wow, what a family! You get an unexpected day off, what would you do?

Work on the Honey-dos! You know, mow the lawn, edging, painting this, fix the door or the fence, go wash my car, clean the patio! But I’d also make time for my wife and make sure that she’s happy. She’s a stay-at-home wife, mother, grandma, right? So, so she’s cooked up all week, so I have to make time to take her out. Take her out to the mall, or to the beach, or fishing. Got to get her out of the house because keeping our home clean and up to date is a job. You know the saying, “Happy wife, happy life!”

What was your favorite part of the HVAC industry when you worked in the field for 10 years?

There are several facets of HVAC, right? Refrigeration technology. I’ve done commercial, residential, and industrial. But what I liked the most was industrial. Bigger equipment, bigger systems, bigger units, working a lot of hours, getting dirty, going home for two or three hours to sleep, then coming back and hitting it again.

What advice do you have for new students just starting out at TWS?

I’d start off by saying that I hope you guys understand and realize the commitment you’ve made. I hope that you have really done your due diligence and researched this career. Of course, you’re going into a very lucrative field. But to be successful what we need to do is sacrifice. You need to submerge yourselves into what you’re about to venture into. If you have the patience, this field will take you a long way. It paid for my kids’ education, braces, vehicles, the whole nine yards. So, I’m living proof. I’m also proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks, because I started in this field at an older age in my early 50s.

What was your favorite tool of the trade when you worked in the field?

Actually, it was my notebook. When I was taking classes I used to hold on to certain pages or make notes about things that I could refer back to. Should I have a question out in the field, I liked to try to research it and answer it myself before getting on the phone to call my boss or my foreman. So, that would be it my notebook. In fact, I still have it!

Did you go to school, yourself, to become an AC technician?

Yeah, I went to San Jacinto Community College, they call it Saint Jack.

If you could tell anyone “Thank you” for helping you become who you are today who would that be?

Well, that would be my two older sisters. Of course, all three siblings played a part because my parents were always working. So, my two older sisters actually raised me. Like any other normal kid, I was always getting in trouble, this and that. And they would line me up, feed me, wash my clothes, and keep the house going when my parents were working. All three of my siblings are educators.