08:16 AM

Exceptional Graduates: Once homeless veteran now candidate for Electrician Technology degree

Gilbert Davila overcomes adversity and finds the spark that propels him to graduation. This story is part of a series celebrating exceptional graduates from South Texas College.

Gilbert Davila says there are mountains and valleys that everyone has dealt with. He says he has been through his fair share of ups and downs.

Gilbert, originally from Mission, Texas, is a six-year military veteran who has traveled across the country during his time in the military.

“I went to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training, from there I went to Fort Lewis in Washington where I worked for six months, and then California,” explained Gilbert. “It was definitely a learning experience.”

Gilbert says after his time in the Army, he found a job as an electrician, but soon after, lost his job due to a work accident and couldn’t afford necessities.

“I was living in my car for about three months up in Austin, Texas,” said Gilbert. “I wasn’t scared or anything, it was just hard. I never thought I would end up homeless.”

“I would get jobs for a day or two just to have money to eat, but that was about it,” explained Gilbert. “I just did the best I could, but it just seems like I had no let out.”

It was soon after he had moved back to the Rio Grande Valley that Gilbert decided to turn his life around and enrolled at South Texas College in the spring of 2016.

“I knew getting my education would help me get my life back on track. I was told to follow my dreams and come back to school, so that's what I did,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert is now a student at STC pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology.

“I chose the electrician technology field because of my strong background and I know the jobs in the field pay well so I won’t have to worry about going homeless again.”
Gilbert Davila

The electrical technology program at STC will prepare students to install, connect, test, and maintain electrical systems for a variety of purposes, including climate control, security and communications.

Electrician instructor at STC, Felix Sandoval, says the electrical technology field provides students with a steady income that they can rely on.

“These jobs are in high demand right now,” explained Sandoval. “Salaries can range anywhere from $12-$50 an hour.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of electricians is projected to grow nine percent from 2016 to 2026.

“I chose the electrician technology field because of my strong background and I know the jobs in the field pay well so I won’t have to worry about going homeless again,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert is a lot closer to achieving his dream of graduating this May and says he would like to get his masters electricians license.

“I hope to take the test to be a general electrician this summer. Hopefully with that master’s electrician license, I can possibly start my own business.”

Gilbert says he is now charged up and ready to look forward to a brighter future.

“I have come a long way since living in my car, I am ready for new beginnings,” expressed Gilbert.

Gilbert says he wants to set an example for not only students, but many other military veterans who are struggling or going through the same situation.

“We all have our own mountains and valleys to go through, but it’s important to keep pushing forward to get where we want to be,” said Gilbert. “I can say that it’s getting better for me. I’m up on that mountain and I’m almost to the top.”