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TijuanaEwing

Degree or certificate program at CLC: Mechatronics technology; graduated from the certificate program in 2015.

Hometown: Born in Chicago; later moved to Waukegan.

Occupation: Working as a security guard as she searches for a mechatronics position.

Interests and hobbies: Traveling, cooking, Internet surfing and spending time with her kids.

Tijuana Ewing

I’m a single mother of two children, and I juggled work, school and family responsibilities to earn a CLC mechatronics certificate. Mechatronics is a challenging field that allows you to work with both your hands and your mind. The field combines mechanics, electronics and computer technologies to create “smart” products that range from industrial robots to automatic teller machines. The backbone of mechatronics is a programmable logic control system, or PLC, that runs computers, lights and motors. A big part of a mechatronics technician’s job is installing, fixing and troubleshooting PLCs.

One of my favorite instructors was John Malinowski, who taught two of my mechatronics courses. He took a hands-on approach to make sure that you understood the concepts. He’s also well-organized, and his sense of humor helped make the class enjoyable. In one of his classes, we designed robots on the computer using CAD software, built the robots and raced them.

Margie Porter, chair of the program, understands the challenge of juggling a job, college courses and raising a family. She helps you build your self-confidence in learning the material. When the workload got a little intense, Margie always reassured us that we can complete the program. She was always willing to provide any help outside of class or connect me with other resources.

At CLC, the smaller class sizes allow you to have a good working relationship with the instructors. Previously, I attended a four-year Midwestern university that included courses in large lecture halls. It’s shocking to see the difference in atmosphere from that university and CLC.

The college’s online courses are also a convenient option. While I was enrolled at CLC, I juggled a nearly full-time job as a security guard along with raising my two kids alone. An online course in manufacturing allowed me to study at home and work around my busy schedule. The course also was a good way to practice time management and setting priorities.

I was so excited and honored to receive the Tools for Tomorrow scholarship. It took a big financial load off my shoulders. In the application essay, I wrote how a career in mechatronics would open doors to job opportunities in many industries, from car manufacturing to food. As a mother of two kids, ages nine and 14, I also mentioned the importance of being a positive role model. I want to show my children that getting an education is important, and it’s never too late to go back to school. Education is the key opening up more doors for yourself.

I’ve made friends inside and outside of my courses. In the mechatronics program, I was a part of a cohort, in which I took the same courses with the same group of students throughout the program.  It was a great way to get to know others. It’s nice to see the variety of students attending CLC, especially the number of working adults.

My advice to a new student is to plug into the many resources that are available, from the counselors to the writing and math tutors to the many campus clubs. There’s a welcoming demeanor at the college. People at CLC are willing to go above and beyond to help you navigate and find the resource that you’re looking for. It’s a great community to be a part of.