San Jon grad set to fine tune car crafting

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a series about graduating seniors in high schools around Quay County.

By naming their son Chaz and their daughter Sahara, Bert and Kathi Sherwood ensured their children would have unique names growing up.

Likewise, Chaz is working toward a career where he can guarantee vehicles that are just as unique.

Sherwood is one of 19 seniors who graduated Friday night from San Jon High School. He plans to work for the next few months to build up tuition for Universal Technical Institute, which has partnerships with NASCAR, BMW of North America, Ford Motor Company and many other automotive companies to provide specific product training.

Bert Sherwood said he’s always tried to let his son have a sense of independence but have his parents to fall back on.

“I try to support him in anything he wants to do,” Bert said. “There are occupations out there that are dead ends, so I tell him what the best routes are for him. The military would be a good place. UTI would be a good place.”

Bert has also taught Chaz to stay with a job that offers incentives. Bert has worked with the New Mexico Department of Transportation for nearly 14 years, while Kathi works for the New Mexico Tourism Department at the Glenrio Information Center.

If and when Chaz ends up at UTI, he’ll go through a 54-week training course, which will enhance things he has been learning for the last seven years. Chaz first became interested in working on automobiles at age 11 when he watched his grandfather at work in the garage.

“(I like) the way you could take something that looks bad and make it look good,” Chaz said. “Working on cars for me calms me down.”

It’s also kept him pretty busy during high school. The garage where Chaz first watched his grandfather became a low-cost (or no cost) garage for many classmates at SJHS.

“ I think I’ve hooked up everybody’s stereo in the high school,” Chaz said. “I’ve hooked up a lot of people’s audio systems. They’re pretty much my friends, so I do it for free.”

Chaz said he got a different feeling when he worked on the car he drives now. About a year ago, an out-of-state couple traveling had their 1989 Cadillac Deville break down between San Jon and Tucumcari.

The couple made some deals in the area to get a more reliable vehicle to finish their trip, and sold the Deville to Chaz for $500. He rebuilt the engine, touched up the paint and added lights, a DVD player and a Playstation2 video game system inside.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to have (all of the interior features), but it makes me feel better that I worked to have that in there,” Chaz said.

And when Chaz does work, Bert has always tried to teach him there are no handouts.

“We’ve stressed that to him for the last four years,” Bert said. “We’ve made him understand if he wants something, he’s going to have to work for it.”

That kind of lesson, Chaz said, makes success more satisfying when it’s acheived.

“You did it and you appreciate it more.”