Every individual truck driver has a distinct narrative surrounding their entry into the industry. The truck driving industry is full of compelling stories on how people found themselves in the driver’s seat. Some follow a family tradition, while others use the industry to transition from military service. Some have known they’ve wanted to be a professional driver for years and have made a conscious choice to pursue a career in the field.
But when unloading the journey of Rose Rojo, one of the five esteemed drivers acknowledged by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) as a 2023 Professional Driver of the Year, you’ll discover a rather unconventional route.
In 2000, Rose Rojo’s former husband enrolled in a trucking school. This was a time when the number of women joining the industry was very small.
“When I first started driving, whenever we arrived for a drop-off or pick-up, my ex-husband went inside and handled the business side of things,” she said. “He protected me from the awkward looks and snide comments. I just drove the truck… Today, I believe women make up about 12% of drivers, so it’s not as bad as it was, but we are still fighting to gain acceptance.”
Rose played a significant role in assisting her ex-husband in earning his CDL, as he was not fluent in English. She attended classes with him and helped him interpret the coursework. She retained and understood the material well, and when the time came for testing, the instructor told Rose, “You’ve already taken the class — why not go ahead and get your CDL?”
The rest, as they say, is history. Rose Rojo has now dedicated more than two decades to the trucking industry.
Rose and her ex-husband started their journey in the industry as an owner-operator driving team, predominantly transporting grain through the Texas Panhandle. After about six years on the road, Rose decided to step away from the trucking world and took up a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Texas. The allure of the open road called her back, and by 2010, she re-entered the world of trucking, driving for C.R. England.
Over the course of her career, she has worked with approximately four different carriers, including an eight-year stint with John Christner Trucking in Sapulpa, Okla. At Christner, she was nominated for TCA Driver of the Year, following similar accolades from the Oklahoma Trucking Association. Now, she drives for R.E. Garrison, an employee-owned carrier based in Alabama.
What captivates Rose the most about truck driving is the opportunity to travel, a passion close to her heart. Though the trucking profession is often perceived as solitary, Rose Rojo is wholeheartedly a people person.
She acts as a mentor for new drivers, enjoying the opportunity to share her experiences and wisdom, particularly with women considering truck driving. Additionally, she embarks on annual mission trips to Honduras, where she provides school supplies to children and aids in distributing essential items.
“I love helping people,” Rojo said. “It’s my goal to help those less fortunate than myself.”
Her ultimate passion, however, lies in supporting abused and neglected children. Having personally experienced child abuse, Rose can empathize with children who face similar struggles.
“I’m super proud of what I’ve overcome,” she said.
Rose is proud not just of what she has overcome in her personal life but also of her professional life and how the two are connected for her.
“From my background, going from foster home to foster home, I was able to become an owner-operator, owning my own business. You can do it. You have to keep that mindset. Nothing is impossible to achieve.”
When questioned about the challenges she confronts on a daily basis as a truck driver, Rose highlights the scarcity of secure truck parking and adequate facilities as a significant concern. While recognizing the importance of monitoring driving hours, she expresses her worries that truck drivers might sometimes be subjected to excessive regulation.
“With ELDs, once you start the clock you can’t stop it,” she said. “You are generally forced to do this or forced to do that. Let the driver choose, and I think it would be easier on drivers, and it would ease the problem of truck parking.”
In regards to her goals going forward, it’s simple to Rose.
“I’m just down to earth. I want to help … and make the world a better place,” she said.
Whether she’s steering a truck, embarking on journeys to Central America, or serving as a mentor to others, Rose has achieved remarkable milestones in her career, and her distinction as a TCA Professional Driver of the Year is well earned.
Source: The Trucker