Each academic year in November, December and April, many colleges with football and basketball programs celebrate their incoming student-athletes when the students sign a letter of intent. Colleges often host an event that makes the athletes feel like they are part of the team, even before they start classes. At Waubonsee, that happens not just with student-athletes, but with student-auto technicians.
At a ceremony on March 8 more than a dozen area high school students signed letters stating their intent to study at Waubonsee. This was the first time that the Automotive Technology Program has hosted such a signing event. With a set up like a major college athletic program, complete with a table on a stage, shirts, hats, professional video recording and a large crowd, the students were welcomed into the college and the Automotive Technology Program just as any blue chip recruit is welcomed into a 4-year college.
The signing ceremony was part of the college’s annual open house for the Automotive Technology and Auto Body Repair Programs. Industry leaders, tool vendors and representatives from local auto service centers were on hand to congratulate and talk shop with the students.
The crowd gathered in the auto shop training center created an energy that the students felt.
“It made me excited to come here,” said Sam Bellafiori, of Oswego East High School.
The connection to athletics was clear.
“It makes athletes and mechanics the same,” said Javier Galvez, also of Oswego East.
The students who signed commitments, all high school seniors, appreciate the benefits and value that they will get at Waubonsee.
“It is close to home and with better opportunities,” said Chaz Garcia of, Kaneland High School.
Anna Barr, of Oswego East, especially appreciates the value of the credential.
“Here you get a degree. You can’t get that from all the other places.”
In addition to talking to seasoned auto technicians, vendors and Waubonsee faculty, the signing students had the opportunity to talk with current students of the Automotive Technology Program. One of those was Jeremy Grant of Millbrook. Grant will graduate after the fall 2018 term and transfer to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Until then he is a witness to the new students to the value of the program. He has completed two levels of the college’s Mopar Career Automotive Program LOCAL, a new program launched at Waubonsee last August. He will tell incoming students about the long-term benefits of the Mopar training modules.
“The modules allow you to keep updating your skills. You can keep logging on after graduation and keep accessing the modules.”
Joe Marcinkowski, of Batavia, is also a current Waubonsee student who appreciates the value of the ability to get the latest and best information about the vehicles he works on.
“I love the factory access to service procedures. Nothing better than getting information from the manufacturer.”
Marcinkowski served eight years in the Navy as a corpsman before starting college and he deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. While in school, he works for the postal service as an auto technician keeping the mail trucks running. When the new students start class in the fall, Marcinkowski will be ready to help them because of his experience both in working on vehicles and in navigating life after high school.
Waubonsee’s Automotive Technology and Auto Body Repair Programs are nationally recognized and the graduates are sought after around the region. Visit www.waubonsee.edu/autotech and www.waubonsee.edu/autobody to learn more about these two programs.