Students Rising AboveBy Elizabeth Cook

by Jennifer Mistrot and Elizabeth Cook

MERCED (KPIX 5) — Having many talents and abilities is a hallmark of all Students Rising Above scholars. But so is being smart, focused and curious. SRA scholar Centurion Barron is no exception.

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Barron’s knack for mechanical engineering drives his ability to fix just about anything, including cars owned by friends and family, who often pay the 22-year-old UC Merced senior to perform basic maintenance, like oil changes, on their vehicles.

“I am more of a hands-on kind of person. That’s exactly the kind of job I would love to go for,” said Barron. “I work on people’s cars for a side hustle … I want to help them because they don’t know that, like they are capable of doing it themselves, if that makes sense.”

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Barron has always been willing to help others. When we first met him in 2018, he was interning at San Francisco’s Ritz Carlton Hotel behind the scenes for its Engineering Department. He worked along with the other engineers on staff on everything from building maintenance to wood working.

“You’re always working on a different project,” said Barron at the time. “New things are always coming up in the hotel.”

Back then, work and school provided Barron with a clear path towards success, steering him away from a road he’d seen others take.

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“[I was seeing and] experiencing everything around me that was going on,” recalled Barron in 2018. ” I want[ed] to do something different, make my future better.”

Barron worked hard and dreamed big. He’ll soon graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His professional resume shines with coveted internships at BART and other employers.

“I am just super glad that I made it through all the challenges, and everything that has been going on,” said Barron. “I’m just super excited to finally make it to my senior year. And I am almost at the finish line!”

And he is still fixing cars, learning as he goes by doing online research and watching YouTube Videos.

After graduation he’ll take those self-taught car repair skills home, along with his college degree. But Barron confesses he left his heart in San Francisco at the Ritz Carlton where he hopes to land a permanent job.

“I really liked the environment at the Ritz Carlton,” said Barron of his internship. ” I thought everybody was extremely, really nice. And I just picture myself working there for a very long time. So that is definitely something that I want to do.”

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Elizabeth Cook