by Jennifer Mistrot and Elizabeth Cook

MERCED (KPIX 5) – Having many talents and abilities is a hallmark of all students of the students who rise above. But the same is true of being smart, focused and curious. SRA scholar Centurion Barron is no exception.

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

“I am more of a person on the ground. It’s exactly the kind of job I would love to do, ”said Barron. “I work on people’s cars for a side business… I want to help them because they don’t know it, like they could do it themselves, if that makes sense.”

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Barron was always ready to help others. When we first met him in 2018, he was an intern at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco behind the scenes of his engineering department. He worked with the other staff engineers on everything from building maintenance to woodworking.

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

Back then, work and school offered Barron a clear path to success, leading him away from a road he had seen others take.

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

Barron worked hard and dreamed big. He will soon be graduating in mechanical engineering. His professional resume shines with coveted internships with BART and other employers.

“I’m just super happy that I got through all the challenges and everything that happened,” said Barron. “I’m just super excited to finally be in my senior year. And I’m almost at the finish line!

And he always repairs cars, learns as he goes by researching online and watching YouTube videos.

After graduation, he will take home these self-taught auto repair skills, along with his college degree. But Barron admits 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,” Barron said of his internship. “I thought everyone was extremely, really nice. And I just imagine myself working there for a very long time. So this is definitely something I want to do.

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