Jinelee Galindez' Path to Auto Technician

Cluttered with Hardship

"I was simply trying to survive"

ATLANTA, GA (August 3, 2022) – At age 40, Jinelee Galindez is not having a mid-life crisis. She’s having a mid-life resurrection.

Growing up in Brooklyn the oldest of seven children, Galindez readily admits that her family was low poverty. She bounced around in school a lot – so many different elementary and middle schools, she can’t even count them all. Her life was complicated as was she.

A smart student, she was constantly bullied because she liked school, sports and cheerleading. Friends accused her of not knowing who she was or what she wanted. A self-described nerd, she grew up very angry. 

“I was always fighting,” she says. “I was angry. I got into trouble on the streets. I pushed back when pushed. Life was not easy. I was simply trying to survive.”

Life did not get easier as she entered adulthood. She bounced around the service and hospitality industry trying to make ends meet. She had three children. In 2017, her house burned down. She was forced to live in a hotel with her three kids and new-found soulmate, Jerry. In 2018, they decided to move to Florida.  There, he took classes to become a chef while she continued to work as a server in the restaurant industry. 

Then Covid hit and they both lost their jobs. She tried to find work, but her car didn’t work. She didn’t have any money to repair it. So, she jumped online and began googling how to fix a car’s thermostat. She figured it out. 

Soon she was tinkering even more with her car. Jerry told her he’d never seen her so passionate and committed and happy as to when working on that car. He encouraged her to go to school to learn more.

She hesitated. Afterall, she was not a teenager anymore. She was still just trying to survive. And survive she has. 

She walked into Universal Technical Institute one day just seeking information. She walked out signed up for classes. 

“I was really scared,” she admits. “I didn’t know hardly anything about cars. I was older. I was a female. There was no one around me that looked like me in any sense. I spent the first couple of days crying in the bathroom. The teacher had to come get me.”

That teacher, Jeff Herman, ended up being her salvation. 

“He wouldn’t let me fail. He kept encouraging me. He kept telling me I could do it and that I needed to believe in myself. He was patient with me as I asked questions. Lord, did I ask a lot of questions. He taught my first class (Engine 101) and also my last class at UTI. I told him I’d never be here without his constant encouragement.”

Galindez admits to facing bias. 

“There was fear, intimidation. But I just hung in there and tried to prove that I belonged and show them how far I’ve come. I think I eventually gained respect. One younger student told me that he had learned a lot by just watching me prepare and ask questions.

“I eventually got to a calm where I realized I really could do this. I had fought through a lot of tough times, but here I was. The young me would have fought and screamed and not known what to do. Over time, I learned how to respond better to all of that. Sometimes, you simply have to get out of your comfort zone to be successful.”

In addition to the inspiration that partner Jerry and teacher Jeff provided, Galindez claims to be a music junkie and finds listening to her play list a way to reenergize herself. 

“Music inspires me.” she claims. “I write a lot of stuff down. I keep a journal. Perhaps one day I’ll write a book.”

It, no doubt, would be a true success story.

[Galindez says her go-to song is “Grateful” by Neffex. Click here to better understand her journey]

About STEAM Sports Foundation


Recognizing workforce and economic development as integral parts of corporate growth, STEAM Sports Foundation with its focus on scholarships for marginalized demographics, works with companies, educators and sports groups to develop initiatives around science, technology, engineering, arts and math that prepare and excite America’s youth in an effort to create tomorrow’s vibrant workforce.

STEAM Sports Foundation is a leading agent and advocate for change. In its effort to support racial diversity, equity and inclusion, the Foundation believes very strongly in providing unique career opportunities to those who previously were not encouraged to explore these innovative fields or believed those opportunities did not exist for them. 

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