Monday, 15 January 2018 10:02

Techs of Tomorrow: Mexican Immigrant, Graduate of IL College Fulfills Dream of Becoming Painter

Written by Victoria Antonelli
Luis Gutierrez moved to the Aurora, IL, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico at the age of 2.  Luis Gutierrez moved to the Aurora, IL, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico at the age of 2.

Luis Gutierrez moved to Aurora, IL, from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico at the age of 2. When he turned 16, he got his first car---a 1986 Buick Regal---which he dreamed of turning into a Low-Rider.

“When I tried to fix up my Buick, I kept getting ripped off because I didn’t know how to do anything myself,” Gutierrez explained. “After high school, I realized I had to do something with my life, and told myself, ‘Why not learn how to paint and do body work on my own?’”

He added that his love for cars started at a young age.

“I began my search for auto body schools after graduation, and enrolled at Waubonsee Community College [in Sugar Grove, IL] in 2011,” Gutierrez said. “I was 20 years old at the time, and now I’m 26.” 

Gutierrez said he chose Waubonsee because he knew people in the collision repair program who spoke highly of the courses and instructor, Andrew MacDonald

 “Waubonsee was also in my price range,” he said. “Because of my immigrant status at the time, I could not receive grants.”

Gutierrez said he enjoyed the hands-on aspect of his classes the most, especially in the painting and body work courses.

“The most challenging part of the program was going into it having no idea what I was doing,” he said. “I’ve never really been a book person---I’ve always been more hands on---but regardless, I didn’t have any experience working on cars, so I was a little nervous.”


Gutierrez said his greatest achievement was learning and implementing the right procedures for working on vehicles. 

“MacDonald understood my learning style and went out of his way to help me,” he said. 

“Luis was a very conscientious, hardworking and punctual student,” said MacDonald. “His potential was apparent right from the start.” 

Right after graduation in 2012, Gutierrez started his first collision repair job at a local body shop. 

“I received a phone call from Luis shortly after he entered the workforce,” MacDonald said. “He stated that the shop he was working at did not do things the way I taught him, and he did not like the results of their methods. I told him that any start is a good start, to remember what I taught him and to hang in there.”

After working at that shop for two years, Gutierrez transitioned into his current job as a professional painter at White Eagle Auto Body, where he has worked for three years.

“I love what I do,” Gutierrez said. “It doesn’t feel like a job anymore.”

Now that he’s accomplished his goal of becoming a painter, Gutierrez said his next dream is to own his own body shop. 

“Luis is a prime example to my present students that if you are persistent and wait for the door of opportunity to open, good things will happen,” MacDonald said.   

Gutierrez is also a member of a custom car club called Soul Assassinz. 

“We haven’t been able to do much recently because of the weather,” he said. “But in the summer, we attend car shows and participate in other outdoor activities.”


Gutierrez said the club was created by his father-in-law in the 2000s.

“We have a wide variety of cars---not just Low-Riders,” he added. “We also have a kid’s chapter with Low-Rider bikes and children’s antique pedal cars.”

For more information on Waubonsee Community College, visit www.waubonsee.edu.