Programs that Work: SCC Public Works Student Richard Trujillo Student Spotlight

September 30, 2021

When Richard Trujillo graduated from the Fire Academy at Mt. San Antonio College in 2007, he thought he was on the road to success. But after failing to quickly secure a coveted firefighter position, the realities of supporting a family of four set in. Richard didn’t just need a job, he needed a career and he needed it fast. 

Today, Richard is a scheduling inspector for the Orange County Public Works Department, scheduling the heavy equipment that is needed for public works projects throughout the county and he owes all to Santiago Canyon College’s Public Works program. 

After starting in a clerical position to pay the bills, Richard followed the advice of his manager and started taking classes at Santiago Canyon College in the hopes of qualifying for a higher-paying position.

“A lot of our inspectors get hired here because of taking these classes,” says Richard. “That’s what my manager told me—all of our construction inspectors have the certificate.”

SCC’s Public Works program offers certificates in Construction Inspection, Construction Management, and Environmental Compliance and is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of entry-level positions in the Public Works field and, for persons working in the field, to give them specialized knowledge they need to advance their careers. After moving online during the pandemic, most classes have since returned to campus. 

According to program facilitator Carlos Castellanos, Santiago Canyon College is the only higher education institution to offer a Public Works program in Orange County. 

“The majority of our students are either making a career change into Public Works or they’re looking to get a promotion,” Castellanos said. 

According to Castellanos, graduates of SCC’s Public Works program, which has been in existence for close to 30 years, are employed throughout the region. 

“In Southern California, our program is well-recognized and has a really good reputation because so many of our students are working for the cities,” he said.  

Richard would agree. According to Richard, the classes he has taken, which covered everything from the principles of project management to business writing, have helped improve his understanding of public works administration as a whole and have made him a more well-prepared employee.

Richard especially appreciates the support he has received from his instructors, all of whom work in the field of public works.

“They help you out a lot,” Richard said. “They have a lot of connections. They’re there to help you pass the class.”

Richard will be earning a certificate from Santiago Canyon College this December and plans to continue his education at California Baptist University. Eventually, he hopes to move into project management roles within his department.