Claire Uhler, York, Nebraska
Field of Study: Automotive Technology

Women in Auto Tech Scholarship Winner

I have grown up working on and around cars all my life. My father worked in the automotive industry for several years as a certified GM technician and service manager before taking the opportunity to become an instructor for the Automotive Technology program at Southeast Community College (SCC) in Milford, NE. Over the years, my dad’s influence has nurtured my love for all things automotive. Since the 1st grade, I’ve wanted to be a mechanic like my father. I’ve spent most of my life under the hood, wrenching with my dad, learning from both my mistakes and my small victories. Whether it’s old cars or new cars, carbureted or fuel injected, a project or a finished product, I love it all.

I have had many opportunities through my father to learn and experience things many others my age don’t get to and I am inexplicably grateful. This in no way means that I know everything or am an expert. I’ll readily admit that there is an abundance of things that I have yet to learn and I’m excited to attack such learning with vigor both at SCC and beyond. On many evenings, you can find my dad and me out in the shop, working together on whatever project is at hand; currently, it is my 1979 Dodge Magnum. Working on cars is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve never looked back.

The automotive industry is full of challenges and innovation. Technology has undoubtedly changed over the years and with such changes the demand for skilled technicians has skyrocketed. As my Dad says, “If you’ve got a skill and want to work, the sky’s the limit.” This absolutely rings true within the automotive industry. If you have a skill but are lazy, you’ll find a job. If you have a desire to work and learn but no skill, someone will hire you and invest in you to develop your skills. However, if you have both skill and a desire to work, you’re desirable and valuable to an employer. I know that I have the ‘wanting to work’ part. I’ve wanted to be in this industry for over 10 years and it’s never changed. Now, I need to continue the ‘learning the skill’ part. That’s why I’m attending Southeast Community College.

In addition to my Automotive Technology A.A.S degree, I will also pursue my Operations & Service Management A.A.S degree. For the last many years, I’ve expressed interest in entrepreneurship and a desire to be a business owner someday. With the dual-credit classes I’ve taken in high school thus far, I have enough credits to make graduating with 2 degrees in 2 years possible. That is why I’ve chosen to get the second degree. It is within my ability to do so and it is something that will help me as I seek to make my long-term goals a reality.

My future career goals and plans are to gain experience in the automotive industry. I am eager and excited to work in this field as a skilled technician, ideally in the York area. My sister intends to go into the Auto Collision Industry and gain experience in her respective field. Ultimately, after years of experience, I want to take up the hat of shop owner. Emma (my sister) and I both have a desire to own an auto repair facility together, ideally with a focus on the restoration and preservation of old cars. It’s something I’ve been working towards even now, and something I will continue to work towards both at SCC and beyond. I want to own my own shop, hire my own employees, and create a culture that promotes work ethic and a desire to improve. I have job-shadowed several industry experts in this field and have done my fair share of research. From my own projects I work on at home to the projects I have helped my father with, I know what I am getting myself into with this career.

I am willing to take the necessary steps, and make the necessary sacrifices, to ensure I make my career goals a reality. I am highly motivated, enthusiastic, and hard-working. This goal of mine is something I have wanted for a very long time and will do everything in my power to achieve it through struggles and hardship, through victories and success. If, by nature of circumstances, an opportunity for an entrepreneurial pursuit doesn’t present itself, I have heavily considered the value of giving back. If the opportunity arises, I would be inclined to apply to be an automotive instructor at Southeast Community College in Milford, NE. Whichever happens, I intend to stick with the automotive industry for the entirety of my working career.