Esteban Montero Chacon found his future through the Lane Community College Energy Management Program. He was a stay-at-home dad in Costa Rica when he began the journey that led to his enrollment in the program. It was fully online and offered a career path that matched Esteban’s interests in alternative energy and energy conservation. He enrolled. This spring, he completes his two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Energy Management, and he already has a job.
Esteban’s career path took some interesting turns before he found energy management. First he trained as a mechanic but concluded that it wasn’t the right fit. Then he became a Spanish-English interpreter and went where he was needed, including the Central American Free-Trade Agreement negotiations in Nicaragua in 2002. By 2010 he was a certified medical interpreter and pediatric interpreter.
In 2013, Esteban stayed home to take care of the kids including an infant daughter, while his wife returned to work as an information officer with the regional U.S. Agency for International Development’s office of foreign disaster assistance in Costa Rica. Esteban used his spare moments to read about alternative fuels and energy consumption. In 2015, the family decided to take a vacation in Oregon. “We all fell in love with the Willamette Valley,” he said, and the family started making plans to relocate.
When Esteban’s youngest daughter started preschool, Esteban got a job as a diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in San Jose. Meanwhile, he looked for opportunities in Oregon and found the LCC Energy Management program. “I knew immediately this was what I wanted to do.” He called program director, Roger Ebbage. “Roger was so encouraging. He was flexible about me being abroad. He made it easy for me to access everything I needed.”
For the next year, Esteban balanced learning, working and family. The family always had dinner together. Saturday morning pancakes became an occasion. They finally moved to Eugene when Esteban was in his second year of the energy management program. It wasn’t long before Ebbage told him about a job as an energy auditor at Homes for Good, Lane County’s nonprofit housing agency. Esteban applied and was hired. He was just promoted to Energy Services Director. “The people I work with are great, and I get to help this community that has been greatly welcoming to me and my family.”
Now Esteban has his degree, his family, a home in Oregon, and a meaningful future. “Energy is one of the pillars of our current way of life, yet we tend to take it for granted,” he says. “Without the technology to harness energy, there would be no public transportation, no food chains, no international treaties or travel. We use energy every day, but we are not aware of how much we use, or the impact it has on the environment.” Energy management provides a way to “balance the energy we use to be comfortable, with the footprint we leave on this planet.”
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