In the early days of her career, Evelyn Nagornyy has already faced obstacles on her path to fulfill her dream of working on the pit crew for a racing team.
But thanks to a donation from Dick Hannah Dealerships, buying a tool kit will not be one of them.
Nagornyy, a first-year student in Clark College’s automotive technology program, and other students enrolled in the school’s Dick Hannah Initiative for Technician Education at Clark College, received basic tool kits valued at $4,000. College President Bob Knight and Dick Hannah, founder and owner of Dick Hannah Dealerships, presented gleaming red tool kits to the students in a brief ceremony at the college’s automotive shop.
“We’re really helping educate and train,” Knight said. “It’s going to better our community.”
The program, which began earlier this year, pairs automotive technology students with the dealership to give them experience in the shop, as well as a beginning set of tools to help in their classes. In exchange, students must complete their degree program and serve an internship in a Dick Hannah shop for six months after graduating.
For more information on the Clark College Automotive Technology program, visit www.clark.edu/academics/programs/automotive or call Michaela Loveridge, student recruitment and retention specialist at 360-992-2551.
Before they start taking classes and throughout their degree program, students also have paid internships at Hannah, giving them hands-on experience. Doing so “creates a bridge to industry,” said Jason Crone, and instructor and program coordinator for the automotive technology program.
“Students get a foundation in the industry before they start taking classes,” Crone said.
Gary Schuler, corporate director for Dick Hannah Dealerships, said the company benefits as well. Schuler worked with the college to launch the program, and said by investing in students, the company guarantees it has a trained workforce in the years to come.
“We’ve been really good at growing our own,” Schuler said.
Hannah echoed Schuler.
“To find a quality technician is practically impossible,” he said, adding that the program is helping the dealership grow.
Nagornyy, notably the only woman in the room, had never worked on a car before beginning the program at Clark College. It’s been more challenging than she expected, she said, and her parents were skeptical at first.
But Nagornyy’s passion for cars and years watching her godmother work on her 1966 Ford Mustang have fueled the 19-year-old forward in the internship.
“That’s what started that curiosity,” he said. “It just kind of bloomed.”
Having tools removes a significant barrier for Nagornyy, who estimated her college costs at $12,000.
“This is the best basic kit,” said Nagornyy, looking through the tools in her new box. “This helps substantially.”