Auto technician inspires eighth-graders to reach their dreams through hard work

students listening to auto technician speak to them

If you read about the 1940s tractor engine rebuilding project in Jonathan Clemmons’s technology classes, we are pleased to report that the engine is off to the press.

While the eighth graders wait for the engine to return to the middle school, they learned about technical education and careers in automotive from Kaytlin Prater, a recent graduate from Ohio Technical College and the BMW Automotive Service Technician Education (STEP) program. A new Minisink Valley resident, Kaytlin is just starting a career in auto-mechanics at BMW of Morristown, NJ.

She shared her junior and senior year experience in a technical high school as the only girl in a class of 20, and as the only girl in a class of 500 at Ohio Tech.

Being dismissed and bullied on account of her gender didn’t keep her from always making the top of her class, earning her peers and teachers’ respect, and graduating valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. She was also the first female in 12 years to be accepted into BMW’s competitive STEP program where her top grades raised her to a category of one-in-four in the program’s long history. Kaytlin completed her associates degree and the STEP program in two years.

“What I learned early on is that you cannot care,” Kaytlin said. “You know what you know and what you’re capable of, not because of your gender, but because you work hard and prepare yourself. You can do it!”

Among her most transforming educational experiences Kaytlin highlighted being trusted with automotive equipment, and being given the ability to take things apart, make mistakes, and find solutions on her own.

A group of students involved in the engine project was so inspired by Kaytlin’s presentation, they asked her to stay on after school to work with and learn more from their visitor.