Who says it's a man's job?
MC alumna proves herself in male-dominated career
“We’ve never had a female do this.”
That’s what Rebecca Garcia was told when she applied for her first job in the aviation maintenance industry. However, after one week on the job, there was no doubt that she could do the job and do it well!
Growing up in Lamesa, TX, Garcia helped her family in their auto maintenance business. She found that she had a natural talent for working on cars and enjoyed helping family and friends with their vehicles in need of repair. She graduated from Lamesa High School in 1998 and found herself wanting to experience city life, so she spent 8 years managing Starbucks in Houston and Dallas.
“I know how to make all the fancy coffee drinks and I’m really popular around family holiday gatherings,” said Garcia with a laugh. “Everyone wants me to make a special coffee beverage.”
In 2011, Garcia decided to move back to Lamesa and worked as a correctional officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the Preston E. Smith Prison Unit. She still enjoyed auto repair as a hobby and soon decided it was time to learn about bigger engines, so she enrolled in Midland College’s (MC) Aviation Maintenance Technology program.
“I was the only female in the program, but there was no special treatment nor discrimination from the instructors nor the other students,” explained Garcia. “It was a wonderful setting, and one of the instructors, Chad Farris, even helped me land a job working at Basin Aviation. He recommended me to the aircraft maintenance manager at Basin, and I got a position as line personnel.”
Garcia said that at first the manager at Basin Aviation was a little skeptical about hiring a female, stating that it was an extremely “physical” job. But after working there for a week, he quickly changed his mind, and Rebecca Garcia worked at Basin for approximately three years—while she was attending Midland College and then after she received her FAA certification.
She said that the skills she learned in MC’s Aviation Maintenance program have given her a successful, rewarding career. She not only credited her instructor Chad Farris with helping her land the Basin Aviation job, but also praised him as a teacher.
“Chad is an amazing instructor,” said Garcia. “Even though we had the technology, he stressed the importance of doing things by hand. Technology may not always be available, so he emphasized learning how to do things without relying on power tools.”
Garcia obtained Midland College Aviation Maintenance certificates in Powerplant and Airframe in May of 2014 and passed the FAA airplane mechanic certification exam in June of 2014. Upon receiving her certification, Basin Aviation management promoted her from line personnel to aircraft mechanic. Then, in April 2015, Garcia went to work for Deerhorn Aviation as an aircraft maintenance technician (AMT).
“Deerhorn is a great place to work,” stated Garcia. “As usual, I’m the only female AMT, but no one seems to notice. I’m treated just like any other tech. Deerhorn has even sent me to several special classes in Wichita, Kansas, where I’ve learned to work on different types of aircraft. Now, I work on everything from small Cessna 150 charter planes to large commercial planes. Deerhorn has a contract with Midland International Airport to repair commercial flights, so I get to go to the air terminal on occasion and work on the larger planes. I specialize in King Air and PT6 engines.”
So what does a woman who works on large aircraft do for fun? She dances! For the past two months, she has been taking ballroom dance lessons and is enjoying learning how to waltz, salsa and rhumba.
“I’ve been dancing all my life,” said Garcia. “I’ve just never had lessons. My entire family dances. In fact, my 4-year-old niece Zaelynn wants to go to a dance every weekend!”
When she isn’t dancing, Garcia still enjoys working on the smaller engines of cars, and she has a part-time job at Auto Zone.
“I mainly work at Auto Zone so that I can ‘shop talk,’” stated Garcia.
A woman of many talents, Rebecca Garcia also enjoys pistol shooting and cooking. She equates the pleasure of cooking to repairing an engine.
“Cooking is just another way that I can craft something in my own way with my hands,” explained Garcia. “I was born to turn wrenches and work with my hands!”