By TAYLOR ROBINSON
When 31-year-old Washtenaw Community College auto body repair student Jacob Truckey applied for the Hire Our Heroes scholarship mid-way through the winter semester, he had no idea that he would be the winner of $3,000 worth of 3M and Snap-on tools.
“My jaw dropped,” Truckey said. “I remember thinking ‘there’s no way it’s that much money in tools.’”
Scott Malnar, auto body repair instructor at WCC for nine years, turned on a little camera the first day of the spring 2015 semester and told Truckey he had won the award. Malnar has told his students about different opportunities when it comes to scholarships and grants.
“I know that it’s really going to motivate them and give them that extra boost they need,” Malnar said.
Hire Our Heroes is one of the many scholarship opportunities offered through the Collision Repair Education Foundation. According to Malnar, the scholarships can range from $200 cash, to full-rides, to thousands of dollars worth of tools for the auto industry.
Hire Our Heroes is particularly directed to veterans who served in the military. Truckey was enlisted in the Marines for four years and finished up his time roughly two years ago. After coming across a WCC booth at Detroit’s Autorama, he decided to check out the auto body repair department. Now, Truckey is just one class away from receiving his certificate and is completing the 3+1 program with Eastern Michigan University in occupational technology management.
Truckey’s hope of working on muscle cars has become possible, particularly through the program at WCC. The auto students are currently working on fully restoring a slick, red corvette.
“I want to end up owning my own shop down south,” Truckey said. “I want to move somewhere like Arizona and open my own custom performance shop.”
Because of the scholarship awarded to Truckey and the tools he received on July 13, he is well on his way to making sure his dream becomes reality.
Brandon Tucker, WCC’s dean of advanced technology and public service careers, stressed the importance of partnering with external companies for students to get the help and support they need, not only during their time at WCC but also for their future careers.
“We do a great job educating our students in the classroom and the college has great facilities. But, externally if we don’t have any partners or employers to connect them to, then all they have is great training,” Tucker said. “I know our faculty as well as our staff is always out there looking and saying ‘Hey, do you need any help or can benefit our students?’ Just like the Collision Repair Foundation did in this case.”
The partnership with the Collision Repair Foundation has helped to support many students at WCC at contributed to their success.
“I think this award to Mr. Truckey is a great testament to us having students that were connected with the right resources,” Tucker said. “I know we are excited for him and are going to be calling on this organization for years to come.”