The Pandemic Didn’t Stop This High School Grad from Fast-Tracking His Career

Clarke County Man Beats the Odds and Finds a New Career Through Training with Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions

Luis Camacho-Bruno is so much happier pursuing his trades education than he was while working towards his engineering degree. The 2018 Clarke County High School graduate spent two years studying engineering at a four-year university.

“Then the pandemic hit,” he said. “It made me change my perspective on things.”

His father, Carlos, works in construction, and Camacho-Bruno enjoyed going to job sites with him as a child. “I’ve just been more of a hands-on type of guy,” he said. “I wanted to do something with my life. I found Workforce Solutions and fell in love with it, absolutely.” In fall 2020, Camacho-Bruno enrolled in two Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions courses – construction project management and the HVAC Level 1 Bootcamp. “I wanted more knowledge when it comes to the safer way to do things,” Camacho-Bruno said. “I’ve witnessed a lot of people who don’t follow certain rules that I’ve since learned taking this class. I want to make the workplace safer. Many companies are going more towards a safety culture.” Camacho-Bruno is passionate about Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions.

“I love the environment,” he said. “The people, the students. They make each class different and interesting, and it’s something that I can relate to. I’ve worked in construction since I was 14. These guys just bring back so many memories. I’m the youngest in the class and they teach me life lessons. I take in everything.” His parents are happy with the steps Camacho-Bruno is taking to improve his future.

“I would return home from school breaks upset,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with myself. But after this transition, I’ve been much happier. I love life.” Camacho-Bruno decided to pursue the HVAC apprenticeship to further his knowledge. “Being in construction, I want to know what I’m talking about when I present myself to potential clients,” he said. “HVAC systems are for your health. It’s the air you breathe. The better quality or the better your machine is working, the better it will be for your kids and yourself.”

The next level of his apprenticeship doesn’t start till later this spring and in the meantime, Camacho-Bruno intends to take a CAD course. He was able to take advantage of a scholarship from the Barbara J. Byrd Clarke County Student Success Fund and FastForward funding to cut his out-of-pocket expenses. “They have no idea how grateful I am for this opportunity,” Camcho-Bruno said about his scholarship to Sherry Pinto, operations and registration lead for Workforce Solutions.

It will take about two years for Camacho-Bruno to finish his HVAC program and earn his journeyman and master craftsman credential. He advises any high school student who is unsure about what to do for their career to check out the programs available at Workforce Solutions. “At least take a look at it and call Workforce Solutions, talk to people who have taken these classes,” he said.

Barbara J. Byrd Clarke County Student Success Fund

Thanks to an investment from Mrs. Barbara J. Byrd, which was matched by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, Clarke County residents enrolled in Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions programs are invited to apply for a scholarship. Limited funds are available, and the amount of the scholarship will vary.  Residents of Clarke County seeking financial assistance for career training programs and educational resources may contact Christina Huffman, [email protected]