Painting His Path to Success
Drew Speight is one of those highly motivated students, who instructors quickly recognize. That’s because Drew demonstrated an intense curiosity and desire to be the best he could be in Stanly Community College’s Automotive Training program.
Drew, who grew up in Red Cross, N.C., was a junior in high school when he began thinking about applying to a traditional four-year college or other ways to achieve a career. “Friends and family were encouraging me to go the traditional college route,” says Drew. “But I loved cars from an early age and didn’t feel a college degree was going to help me pursue my passion for cars. And college is expensive.”
In high school, Drew participated in SCC’s Career & College Promise (CCP) program that allows students to take courses designed to prepare them for a career or to gain college transfer credits. Drew enrolled in SCC’s Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology Program that included the study of automobile construction and design, removing and installing parts, metalworking, cutting and welding different materials, frame measuring and repair, safety and painting.
Drew’s instructor and Automotive Training Program Director, Billy Huneycutt, quickly recognized that Drew was a natural at auto body work.
“It didn’t take long to realize Drew was gifted in this field because he excelled in every area of the program. He not only had the ability, but the focus and concentration that not everyone has.”
Because Drew excelled at autobody detail and painting, he was selected to compete in Skills USA where students from across the state showcase their skill level in a particular area. He placed second in the state in autobody painting.
Skills USA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry that work together to strengthen America’s skilled workforce. “I encouraged Drew to participate in this competition because I knew how talented he was, and this was a way to network with future employers who attend these competitions looking for prospective employees,” adds Huneycutt.
Drew participated in a second competition in South Carolina a few months later hosted by the Carolina Collision Association. He won first place in autobody painting that included a $1,000 cash prize. Because of his participation in these two competitions, Drew received multiple job offers. One of the attendees at the competition was a shop owner who recognized Drew’s talent and offered him a job on the spot, which Drew accepted. Today, Drew works at a well-respected autobody repair company in Salisbury.
“I am so happy that I chose to pursue my passion for cars,” says Drew. “I could not have achieved this level of success at such an early age without the support and education I received at SCC. I have my instructors to thank for not only preparing me to be the best I could be in my field, but for pushing me to network.”
Huneycutt says that the SCC “family of instructors” wants students to succeed at their chosen profession, but also as valuable members of the community. “I want my students to feel I am a friend and approachable about their school work, or if they need advice in another area of their lives. We encourage every student to pursue what makes them happy and not just chase a paycheck. We want them to have great career skills, but we also want to teach them great life skills. That’s what determines success.”