Christian Rodriguez works to complete his composite project at the National Masonry Championships held in conjunction with the 48th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, held at H. Roe Bartle Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Christian Rodriguez works to complete his composite project at the National Masonry Championships held in conjunction with the 48th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, held at H. Roe Bartle Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Christian Rodriguez, in uniform, is shown with his mother, Beverly K. Noah who passed away in 2011. “She was one of my motivations in going back to school,” says Rodriguez. “She kept telling me that it is never too late to make something of yourself.”
Christian Rodriguez, in uniform, is shown with his mother, Beverly K. Noah who passed away in 2011. “She was one of my motivations in going back to school,” says Rodriguez. “She kept telling me that it is never too late to make something of yourself.”

He didn’t have a plan when he graduated from high school in Oklahoma, but he does now.

After a year of junior college, Christian Rodriguez decided that he was “not ready” for more school. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served three years in the infantry. Following his own military service, he temporarily moved to Washington, D.C. to provide care for his brother-in-law who had been severely injured in combat in Afghanistan.

Back home in Broken Bow, Okla, he thought about the G.I. Bill.

“My Mom was one of my motivations in going back to school. She kept telling me that it’s never too late to make something of yourself,” says Rodriguez.

“I thought I should take advantage of the G.I. Bill . . . and my mother did, too,” says Rodriguez. “I had done some construction. My brother builds homes. So, I enrolled in the masonry program at Kiamichi Technology Center, Isabel, Okla.”

“I was surprised. I was better than I thought I’d be!” Rodriguez reports.

His masonry instructor, Jeff Dunn, says he was a very good student. “He started as a full-time student; and after his first year, Christian finished second in the state masonry competition. He finished the program this year (2012), took first place in the state contest and competed in the national competition in Kansas City.”

Rodriguez called Dunn’s class a “great experience” and his trip to Kansas City for the SkillsUSA National Masonry Championships a “once in a lifetime experience.”

“He was an excellent student,” Dunn concludes. “I wish I had a room-full of students like him.”

The student-teacher relationship continues. “I’ve gone out on my own,” reports Rodriguez. “I’m trying to build a business. Mr. Dunn refers work to me that the school and his students can’t do.”

Dunn reports that Rodriguez has taken the initiative to print business cards, has decals on his truck and has even run advertising in the local newspaper.

In the meantime, Rodriguez is taking full advantage of the G.I. Bill by taking additional courses at Eastern Oklahoma University that he can transfer next year to Oklahoma State University where he plans to pursue a degree in construction management.

He’s also taking advantage of a savings program offered by his Choctaw Tribe. “The Choctaw Asset Building (CAB) Program is a two-to-one matched savings program for start-up businesses,” explains Rodriguez. “So, by the time I get my degree, I should have saved enough to buy the equipment I’ll need.”

Christian Rodriguez has a plan.