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SAC Auto Tech Student Juan Meneses Puts His Career in the Fast Lane Student Success Profile
Inspired by the Japanese domestic market, muscle cars, and other exotic vehicles, 21-year-old Juan Meneses knew from a young age he wanted to work on cars. Today, with the help of Santa Ana College and a scholarship from OC Driven for Success, the nonprofit arm of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association (OCADA), Juan has started a career as an apprentice technician at an Aston Martin dealership stationed in Tustin and is ready for life in the fast lane.
From a young age, Juan always enjoyed hands-on work and got his start working on cars fixing his small, tight-knit family’s four vehicles. “I wanted to make things easier for everyone else,” explains Juan. “I wanted to know how I could learn to make things work, and what I could do with those skills.”
Working on his family’s vehicles inspired Juan to pursue an education in automotive technology. To make that dream a reality, Juan chose to attend the automotive technology program at Santa Ana College, where he has transitioned from general automotive studies to a specialty focus in Aston Martin luxury vehicles.
“I love it here,” smiles Juan, “I enjoy receiving hands-on learning from master technicians and I like the fundamental coursework and principles of my program. Santa Ana gives you the tools to succeed.”
One key to Juan’s success has been the support he’s received from OC Driven for Success, OCADA’s nonprofit initiative that is helping jumpstart the careers of would-be automotive technicians across Orange County. Through partnerships with regional high schools and community colleges, OC Driven for Success supports a number of regional initiatives aimed at supporting Orange County’s future automotive workforce, including offering over 60 scholarships every year to support students like Juan at all of the region’s community college automotive technology programs.
Another of OCADA’s outreach programs gave Juan and his friends a chance to attend a Raceway Drag Race where he observed the fastest cars he’d ever seen being raced, assembled, and taken apart. As he observed auto technicians rebuilding engines in the pit, he thought to himself, “working on one of those would be the dream.”
“OCADA brought a wider and more diverse community of experts to work on vehicles, including diesel, no gasoline engines, and gasoline engines,” says Juan. “Through that broad experience, I got a chance to see what interested me most.”
Santa Ana College’s Automotive Technology program offers state-of-the-art training from ASE and NATEF-certified master technicians and is designed to prepare students for careers working a variety of jobs in the automotive industry—many with high five and even six-figure salary earning potential.
In addition to an associate degree in Automotive Technology, SAC offers 11 career-focused certificates in specialty areas of modern automotive service and repair:
- Automotive Technology Associate’s Degree
- Advanced Engine Performance Certificate
- Alternative Fuels and Hybrid Maintenance Certificate
- Automotive Air Conditioning Maintenance
- Automotive Business Technology Certificate
- Automotive Chassis Maintenance
- Automotive Electrical Maintenance
- Automotive Engine Maintenance
- Chassis Service Certificate
- Drive Train Service Certificate
- Engine Performance & Electrical Certificate
- Engine Service Certificate
Along with an early interest in automotive technology, Juan is also inspired by child development and would like to eventually mentor juveniles involved with the justice system. At SAC, Juan credits various guidance counselors and admission directors for helping steer him in the right direction. As a result, Juan is also pursuing a degree in sociology.
“People are caught off guard when I tell them I’m in the Auto Tech program and the Sociology program, but you can do both. My advisors explained it would be more work, but it’s more than possible.”
“A key concept that helps me is being open to learning new things, and taking it one step at a time—that mentality has taken me to where I am now,” explains Juan.
Juan also credits SAC’s support staff for providing helpful guidance on how to start a fulfilling career in automotive technology. Learning new techniques can be a challenge but Juan appreciates the helpful support he’s received from his teachers like Instructor Mark Sosebee, a professor who previously managed his own auto body shop and now teaches students how to run their own.
Today, Juan is an apprentice technician with Aston Martin Newport Beach, with a focus on vehicle service, diagnostics, mechanical, and electrical work. A job he was offered by Santa Ana College, which allowed him to apply for the opportunity directly from the dealership.
For Juan, “learning something new every day” is the best part of his program and he enjoys the rewarding feeling that comes with being the expert customers trust to make their day easier.
“I want everyone to know, you can do what you love, and there is a guaranteed spot for everyone,” says Juan. “I’m no expert on cars, but I’m learning, so if I can do it, you can too.”
For more information about SAC’s Automotive Technology program, please visit sac.edu/AcademicProgs/HST/Auto/Pages/Automotive-Technology.aspx.