2003 Sunnyside High School graduates Jacob Hazzard and Ryan Johnson have earned scholarships while attending Universal Technical Institute to study automotive technology.
The young men scored in the top 10 percent on a national placement test to attend their choice of the nationwide network of technical schools, said Brett Schutte, a UTI educational representative.
"They are representative of the quality students we've come to expect from Sunnyside," Schutte said.
Schutte was in Sunnyside last week not only to make the announcement about the two young men's good fortune, but to also honor long-time auto shop instructor Nick Paulakis. Paulakis, who has taught auto mechanics at SHS for the past 22 years, received a pin set, in the form of a gear shift, as well as a plaque from UTI.
"Nick continues to turn out the kind of students who are making the choice for careers in the automotive industry, from technicians to detailing an auto design," Schutte said.
Schutte visited Sunnyside High School last week to make the announcement about the graduates' good fortune while giving a recruiting speech to Paulakis' current group of auto shop students.
"Hazzard and Johnson are both attending technology training programs at the Arizona campus," Schutte said. When they complete their training, which may take as long as 12 to 20 months, they will be able to go to work pulling down salaries of up to $24 a hour, he told the students.
Technicians with factory training can command salaries even higher, he added
"As long as there is a need to fix cars, truck, boats and motorcycles, there will be a need for highly trained technicians," he said.
Schutte encouraged Paulakis' students to work on maintaining good grades, not just in auto shop, but in all their classes, to maintain a good attendance record and to keep their driving record spotless.
"Employers look at all of those areas in addition to your training when it comes to hiring the best person for their business," he said.
"As an employee in a highly competitive field you'll need every edge you can get to get the job," he told the students.
Hazzard and Johnson are among more than 18 SHS students in recent years who have gone to UTI and into careers in the automotive industry, Schutte said.
"They are among the thousands of young people who are learning that the days of the shade tree mechanic are a thing of the past, Schutte told the current crop of gear heads. "You can't get the same on the job training you could get in your father's day," he said. The training available in technical schools is a fast way to become employable, he added, encouraging the students to carefully consider their career plans.
"Make sure you can get a job in the area you choose," he said.
There is a lot of money to be made in the automotive technology, he said.
"And a long as people drive cars, there will be a need for highly skilled technicians," he said.