INA, Ill. (June 8, 2017) – For most Rend Lake College students, the road to campus isn’t very long, but for Spring 2017 graduate Fabian Jerves, the distance is nearly 3,000 miles. Jerves, originally from Cuenca, Ecuador, walked across the RLC Commencement stage last month with honors in three associate degrees and three certificates, and he’s far from finished.
In 2014, Jerves arrived in the United States with his family and father, who had been transferred to Continental Tire the Americas, LLC (CTA) in Mt. Vernon. It was at the facility where his father first heard about RLC and friends encouraged Jerves to enroll.
“I heard about Rend Lake College from my father’s friends at work and they recommended RLC to start my education. My father worked at Continental in Ecuador, but in 2014, he had the opportunity to work in Continental in Mt. Vernon for two years, and that was one part why we came to this part of the United States,” said Jerves.
Jerves first sat in an RLC classroom in the spring of 2015 to start working on associate degrees and certificates in industrial electronics (INEL) and maintenance technology, which he plans to use as a transfer student this fall at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
“Now, I’m planning to achieve a degree in industrial engineering at SIU,” he said. “I chose [INEL and maintenance technology] because, after talking with my advisor, we found that it was the best option to make it easier to transfer and get my engineering degree.”
He continued, “It has been really nice to be part of an American class, because it changed my point of view on how education is around the world. RLC taught me that there is always something new to learn, and that with effort, everything can be achieved.”
Needless to say, Jerves kept himself busy on campus. Specifically, he graduated with a 3.85 grade point average with an Associate of Arts, an Associate of Science, an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance Technology, and certificates in Industrial Maintenance Technology, Programmable Logic Control, and Robots and Automation. All of this, and balancing his personal life, brought unique challenges to the forefront.
“The biggest challenge has been adapting to the cultural differences with a language barrier and being apart from my family and friends in Ecuador,” said Jerves. “It is very similar, except that we spend more time with our family. Americans work from a very young age and while they are still studying, which is not common for Ecuador.”
As if that weren’t enough, Jerves also became involved in one of RLC’s most popular internship programs. The CTA Maintenance Internship program takes only the top students from RLC’s INEL and Maintenance Technology programs for a two-year, hands-on placement at the Mt. Vernon facility.
“Some of my classmates were part of the program. I thought that this experience could be meaningful for my professional career, and I had the opportunity to get experience in the real work place, plus practice what I have learned in school,” said Jerves. “That’s been my favorite part. Being involved in a practical system that we don’t have at my home country.”
He continued, “I think working at Continental taught, not only technical skills with different technologies, but also how to interact with people in a working environment. They gave me the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds to work together in order to achieve a common goal.”
Jerves said the internship program has already had a lasting impression. After graduating from SIU, he said he hopes to have the opportunity to continue his professional career at CTA.
“I want to stay at Continental because I think it’s a company that allows me to develop my career, and where I can learn something every day,” said Jerves.
It’s not all work and studying for one of RLC’s only South American students. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, and playing sports, specifically basketball and soccer.
Jerves added, “I want to thank the staff at RLC that made my time there very nice and guided me to become a professional. I want to thank Continental too, for the work opportunity, and my family for all the support that has made everything possible.”
Last year, Jerves’ father moved back to Ecuador while he finished his education at RLC. He did make it back in time to watch his son walk across the stage.