LA JUNTA – Rocky Ford native Juan Ramos grew up working on cars, so when he decided to attend college to study automotive technology, not very many people were surprised. Some however, questioned the need.
“People asked me, ‘Why go to college when you already know how to work on cars?’ said Ramos.
Ramos was already well on his way to his college degree before he even graduated from high school. On the advice of Rocky Ford Junior/Senior High School counselor, Nancy Jenniges, Ramos completed many of his college classes during his senior year of high school.
Having two semesters’ credits out of the way, Ramos completed an Associate of Applied Science in automotive technology in May 2013. He continued an extra semester to complete prerequisite classes for a bachelor’s degree.
To those who question the need for college, Ramos replies, “The knowledge you have may be enough to do some things, but college broadens your knowledge of different ways to fix things. It develops your critical thinking skills. You learn why you do something in addition to how.”
Ramos is now pursuing Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications while working for R & J Auto in North La Junta. “I want to work and learn what I can for now and later transfer to CSU – Pueblo’s Automotive Industry Management program,” Ramos explained.
Ramos speaks highly of the automotive technology program at OJC. “I had a scholarship to a technical college in Denver, so I went up to look at it. The classes were really big and there wasn’t much of a chance for each student to get hands on time in the shop. I decided to complete my degree at OJC because there is more individual attention and more time in the shop,” said Ramos.
In addition to Doug Gabehart, auto mechanics faculty, Ramos credits the TRiO program; Nancy Mitchell, Perkins and Career and Technical Education Compliance director; and the staff of the Student Success Center with assisting him in reaching his goals at OJC.
“Before I started college, I didn’t know how much technology was involved in automotive work,” said Ramos. “People don’t understand the knowledge base in math, chemistry and technology that is needed. That scanner that a mechanic plugs into your car doesn’t tell them what is wrong. It gives the mechanic values that can be used to get an idea of what might be wrong. After that, there are other tests that need to be done to find out what is the cause of the problem,” added Ramos.
“Mr. Gabehart has always told us, ‘Completing this program is not going to make you a mechanic. You need to keep learning throughout your career.’ It’s true,” said Ramos. “I still come back and ask him questions. I have also learned from him and Steve (Walker of R & J Auto) that mechanics need to be friends and help each other out, not think of each other as enemies or competitors.”
Ramos’ love for auto mechanic work beams from his face as he describes why he enjoys his career. “It’s always different. Every day you learn something new. Even when you are doing the same thing, it’s still new because you never do anything in exactly the same way. Every day I am excited to see what is going to happen,” said Ramos. “When you pull apart a car and put it back together and it works, there is such a feeling of accomplishment,” Ramos added.
To learn more about the Automotive Technology program at OJC, contact Doug Gabehart at 719-384-6871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OJC alumni are invited to update their profiles at http://www.ojc.edu/ojcAlumni.aspx to keep their connection to OJC current. Include information on how you put your own OJC education to work and you may be contacted for a future feature story. If you know of an OJC alumnus who would like to share his or her story, please contact Sue Samaniego at (719) 384-6821 or email@example.com.