“Construction is in my blood,” says Cesar Mejia Gomez, which is just one of the reasons that he loves his job as lead carpenter in CSUDH’s Facilities Services department.
“I enjoy that I can make a difference for our students,” he says. “The work I do helps students enjoy their learning process more by beautifying, transforming, and maintaining our classrooms and other important areas of our campus. It gives the campus a more welcoming feeling.”
Gomez’ days usually begin by checking for new work requests that have come in for him or the staff he supervises. Then he’ll either head onto campus or go to his shop in Facilities Services to work on current projects. Gomez often heads off campus to procure materials for the office’s various repair and construction projects, as well.
Gomez has been at CSUDH for 12 years, working his way up from laborer to being in charge of the carpentry shop. He’s proud of the work he’s done to keep the campus up and running, saying, “I’ve been able to impact the lives of many of our students and staff by providing quality repairs, renovations, and beautifying different areas of our infrastructure, while delivering great customer service.”
A native of El Salvador, Gomez started in construction work when he was a child in his native country, working for his uncle Jaime, a general contractor. He fled El Salvador during the 1980’s due to the nation’s bloody civil war, initially immigrating to Mexico. Gomez crossed the border into the United States illegally, but obtained permanent residency five years later–and became a U.S. citizen five years after that.
Gomez’ early years in the U.S. were marked by a series of jobs–from dishwasher at Bob’s Big Boy to restaurant chimney and exhaust system cleaner. He found his way back into the construction trade thanks to a TV cabinet he built to try and earn some extra cash. While shopping the cabinet around, Gomez stopped to get gas for his truck.
At the gas station, Gomez noticed a black truck just pulling out that sported a sign advertising construction services. Gomez ran over, knocked on the truck’s window, and told the man driving he was looking for a job. Gomez showed him the cabinet he had just built, and a week later the man called an offered Gomez a job as his helper.
The two built the company up over the next eight years, and Gomez went into a 50/50 partnership running it. Three years later, Gomez decided to branch out and form his own contracting firm. He ran that company for 20 years, and soon after leaving that behind, he landed the job at CSUDH.
When he’s not working, Gomez loves music and enjoys singing karaoke. His favorite place to hang out is at home with his family, and likes to put his skills to work fixing up his house or taking long walks with his wife on the beach or around their neighborhood.
Gomez feels blessed to have a beautiful family and a job he knows contributes to the learning environment at CSUDH. “I love my job, I love what I do, and I love the people around me,” he says. “I don’t see myself working somewhere else–our campus has become my second home!”