Hoosier Workers: Ramiro Delgado, The Apprentice

Sep 30, 2021

Ramiro Delgado poses for a portrait behind the loading bay where he reports for his apprenticeship with the building maintenance team at Indianapolis Public Schools.
Credit Justin Hicks / IPB News

For the month of September, we're bringing you stories of workers across Indiana, about what they do and how they find meaning in their jobs. This week, Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Justin Hicks profiles Ramiro Delgado. He’s a junior in high school in the Modern Apprenticeship Program. The day we caught up with him, he trained with Keith Fondaw, a steamfitter with Indianapolis Public Schools.

"It’s a little chilly this morning because the boilers have been down," Keith Fondaw said, explaining the plan for the day's work. "So we will go down in the dungeon and have [Ramiro] unwire that."

"I feel like I’m passionate about HVAC because, there’s like a whole system to doing it," Ramiro Delgado said. "Once you diagnose it, you can get the problem out of the way. There’s something else, you can do that. It’s more like a puzzle; you get to solve it.

"Right now, it’s measuring 30 degrees of water and that’s not really accurate," Delgado said, explaining what he and Keith are working on. "So we – right now – think it’s the sensor, but we want to make sure that way we don’t have to replace anything big.

"I feel like, if I get into it early, I’m going to get used to it. I’m probably going to like it more. Cause I know some people who don’t like their jobs. I don’t know why they’re working there. They should just get a job they like, so it doesn’t feel like work.

"Keith actually, like, teaches me and goes step by step. I actually understand it. Even if it takes like a week to understand it, I’d rather do that than not know anything. Keith, he was telling me too, each day I learn something new. Because as time progresses, the technology gets advanced [and] you have to learn that and keep going."

"It lit, you can hear it lit," Fondaw said, teaching Delgado how to fix the boiler. "That rumbling sound, that’s the pulse boiler, so we know there was fire there, but the flame rod just can’t see it. So we’re going to turn this guy off."

"I would like to mentor my brother," Delgado said. "He’s actually 7 right now. I actually want him to do good in life and, like, know as much as I do. So he gets a head start, he knows what’s going on in life, who to stay away from – all that. He doesn’t know what he wants to do, basically. He just wants to have fun [and] live his childhood.

"I do not feel like I’m a child. I mean, I feel like I should be able to drive anywhere without somebody being like, oh where [are] you coming from? Or you’re supposed to be in class right now? If they only knew that I had an apprenticeship."

"Hey Ramiro, if you would, hop up there and pop those wire nuts off," Fondaw said, asking Delgado for help repairing the boiler.

"My dad, he works hard," Delgado said. "Also my mom. They’re a big inspiration to me. They just show me how to work hard. They show me if you want to get something, you have to work hard for it. It’s not, like, handed down to you. I feel like if you work hard enough and pursue what you want to do and you’re good at it, you can do a lot of stuff.

"My parents grew up in poverty, so they didn’t have much. Right now we’re not so rich, but also we’re not struggling. We’re like middle class right now. I’m going to try to get them to high class. I want to buy them a house – that’s something big big. Hopefully I can like, achieve more, and throughout time goes I can give them more and more. I have a car at 16, [but] I don’t think they even had a bicycle at 16. That’s something to think about.

"I hope my parents are proud of me. I hope so."

Ramiro Delgado told his story to workforce reporter Justin Hicks. Contact Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.