Learning autos in high school, getting college credit from CCC


High school students Kami Lawrence (left) and Emilio Apodaca get college credit at Coconino Community College while enrolled in the Automotive program.


Flagstaff, Ariz. – Kami Lawrence is a senior at Coconino High School. She has taken Auto 1, 2 and 3, and she has received college credit from CCC for each class through the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology (CAVIAT) program.


“I’ve always had an interest in cars and to know more about them, what they’re doing when you drive down the road,” Lawrence said. “I’ve really ended up enjoying it.”


She also said that she realized it could be a career for her.


“And I’ll save a lot of money doing a lot of repairs at home myself,” she said and laughed.


Emilio Apodaca, also a CHS senior who has completed Auto 1, 2 and 3 courses, also received college credit from CCC through CAVIAT.


“I like doing things myself,” Apodaca said. “I like getting my hands dirty.”


He added that something he liked to do eventually started seeming like a possible career option to him.


Lawrence and Apodaca shared their inspiring stories recently to a group of educators and business leaders during a breakfast get-together at Coconino High School. The event was organized by Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona.


“We are enhancing the youth talent pipeline in Flagstaff by bringing employers and qualified students together for the benefit of summer internships, and ultimately, employment,” said Christina Caldwell, Regional Director of Community Development for Goodwill.


Bryan Locke, the CHS teacher in charge of Auto 1, 2 and 3, said that each class becomes progressively more involved in automotive maintenance and repair. Auto 1 deals with fundamentals like brake jobs and oil changes. During Auto 2, students tear engines apart and put them back together. The Auto 3 class deals with advanced skills like diagnostics and swapping out transmissions.


“We keep it fun,” Locke said. “It’s not just book work. It’s really about getting these kids excited early on.”


He added that both Lawrence and Apodaca are Automotive Service Excellence and Subaru certified. The certifications mean that Lawrence and Apodaca are well on their way toward working at a dealership or shop, with their basics out of the way.


“I’d put them up against any 25-year-old any day of my life right now,” Locke said. “They’re ready to work right now.”


Locke also said that the students have a level of professional skills that will help them no matter what they finally decided on in the future. Lawrence said that she already has a job at a local automotive shop.


“It’s given me a huge jumpstart,” Lawrence said. “I’ve learned a lot more than I could than just here.”


Apodaca plans on going to college, but he said that he’s fully aware the skills he’s been gathering are currently in high demand, and that may weigh heavily on his choices for the future. Lawrence said that her plans are to move to a larger market eventually, maybe even work the racecar circuit. Regardless, she’s open to all possibilities.


Adults, and high school students who have graduated, in Coconino County interested in getting new or further automotive skills currently have to leave the area for training. Coconino Community College would like to rectify that by offering automotive classes to adults, but funding continues to be an issue in making the wish a reality.



Wednesday, 18th April 2018

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  • Wednesday, 18th April 2018