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Owner/OperatorGrump’s Rod ShopDallas
“I had been working on cars with my grandfather since I was four or five years old, and have been in fabrication most of my life. My grandfather suggested that I learned welding at Eastfield.
“This is a field where if I can dream it, I can draw it and build it. I’m not so good at the drawing part, but I can definitely build: I can mirror reality in whatever shape or fashion it takes.
“One of the things I’m passionate about is vocational education. I think we need to re-instill it in high schools and back down to grade schools, take an evolutionary leap back into time. Did you know that between 1976 and 1982, the number of vocational and technical programs went down 85 percent?
“It’s great to have intelligent capabilities, but if you don’t have the skills sets to back them up, what’s the point of going out into the real world? If you have a practical skill, you can always put bread on the table.”
Rafael Merren has owned Grump’s Rod Shop, a custom fabrication body shop, since 2007 and plans to earn Eastfield’s new Street Rod Fabrication certificate to continue honing his skills. He attended Automotive Technology classes at both Brookhaven and Eastfield Colleges, earning an associate degree from Eastfield in 2007 and an additional associate degree in Auto Body Technology from Eastfield in 2009. He is also a licensed private investigator and writer.