Omar Sanchez is rising up the ranks at the Riverside Transit Agency.

The San Bernardino resident honed his skills in the Automotive Technology Department at San Bernardino Valley College, where he learned everything from "electrical and mechanical diagnosing to simple inspections on a vehicle," he said.

While at SBVC, Sanchez enjoyed being able to read about each topic in textbooks while also "getting hands-on experience," he said. "It was a great time learning a little bit of everything in the various classes I attended. The courses most definitely sharpened my skill set as well as taught me new techniques. It prepared me for the real world."

Armed with his certification, Sanchez applied for an entrylevel job at the Riverside Transit Agency, and was hired as a servicer. The RTA promotes from within, and in just three months, Sanchez was offered a mechanic job, and he now works as a Level C Heavy Duty Mechanic. This fast career advancement, he said, is "thanks to my education at SBVC."

Sanchez has found that "a lot of the habits and practices from the classroom setting can be transferred to the professional level." He's able to quickly pick up on things, and "quite often, I tell myself, 'Wow, I learned how to do that at school already,'" he said. "That makes me more effective and valuable to my employer."

Looking ahead to the future, Sanchez aims to become the "best heavy duty mechanic I can be," he said. "I want to progress my career in this field and hopefully one day teach others and pass down my own knowledge."

Omar Sanchez, Class of 2023