Augustina Mendez-Augustin works on the underside of a vehicle during her automotive apprenticeship at Blue Ridge Community College. (Photo courtesy of Rich Keen, Blue Ridge Community College Marketing and Communications Dept.)
From the young age of seven, Augustina Mendez-Augustin loved working on cars with her father, Manuel. Now, as a 20-year-old apprentice in the Apprenticeship Blue Ridge Automotive Program, Augustina attends class one day a week and works the balance of the week at her apprenticeship employer. This means she is earning a full, 40-hour paycheck and a certificate at the same time.
“I’m so grateful to Blue Ridge and Hunter Subaru for giving me this opportunity to work with cars, learn, go to school at the same time as work, then practice what we’ve learned at school,” she said.
Augustina is a proud automotive apprentice in Apprenticeship Blue Ridge, a program that offers automotive, business and banking, manufacturing, and plumbing apprenticeships.
Starting at Hunter Subaru working with the vehicle technicians, Augustina switched departments midway through her apprenticeship to give herself more variety, and now enjoys working in the automotive parts department.
“I just wanted to expand my horizons and check out other departments,” she added.
The skills she’s learned at Hunter Subaru have translated well into her everyday life, she said. Since working as an apprentice, she’s been more confident in her abilities and has even been able to mentor others using her new knowledge.
Many believe that a person working in the parts department only has to go pull parts for mechanics, something Augustina says is a common misconception. A typical day for her may include giving price estimates, picking the right parts, ordering parts, responding to customer emails, and learning where each part fits inside a vehicle.
Following her time as an apprentice, Augustina sees herself continuing to work in the automotive industry, as her growing fascination with vehicles and how they operate continues to expand.
Blue Ridge’s Automotive Apprenticeship program allows eligible high school graduates and adult learners to earn money and get experience for a job after completion. The program is a collaborative effort of Blue Ridge, Henderson County Public Schools, the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, Transylvania County Schools, Homeschool Association, and local automotive dealerships working together to support students.
The Automotive Apprenticeship program is a registered North Carolina Apprenticeship with the N.C. Department of Labor. To learn more about the College’s apprenticeship programs, visit blueridge.edu/apprentice.