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Degree or certificate program at CLC: A.A.S, automotive technology; planning to graduate in May 2017.

Hometown: Palatine.

High school: Palatine High School, 2011.

High school clubs and activities: photography club.

Interests and hobbies: Fixing/tinkering with cars, attending car shows, photography, drawing and making lawn ornaments out of car parts.

Katelyn Kollin

Driving is a metaphor for life: If you want something, just put the car in gear and go get it because you can go anywhere. And I’ve been interested in cars since I was a little kid. Both my dad and grandpa were auto mechanics. Dad was a truck driver and a diesel truck mechanic. I would work with him in the shop, handing tools to him or pumping the brakes. I’m a problem solver and I like working with my hands.

At first, my dad was not in favor of me pursuing a career as an auto mechanic, but now, he’s proud of the progress that I’ve been making. There are also other women enrolled in CLC’s automotive technology program, and overall, we feel welcome.

All of the instructors at CLC have been very willing to help students and explain concepts, but Derrek Keesling stands out. He was my instructor for several automotive classes, including Introduction to Automotive Technology, Powertrain Controls, Auto Electrical I and II and Automatic Transmissions. He will stay after class or put in the extra effort to help you, and he explains everything well while showing you what he’s talking about.

CLC’s automotive lab, which has 12 repair bays with hydraulic lifts, has up-to-date tools and more than enough cars to work on. Students can work on many makes and models, from Saab, Hyundai and Toyota to Chevy, Ford and BMW. We’ve done wheel alignments, fixed electrical and powertrain issues, replaced shocks and have replaced or fixed automotive transmissions.

At CLC, my classes have usually  had less than 21 students, and some automotive courses have had as few as eight, which gives teachers more time to explain things. When we’re in the shop, there’s a maximum of three or four students per wheel or whatever portion of the car we’re learning about. Teachers and students can bring their cars in to the shop for students to diagnose and fix. We use the computerized scanning tool to troubleshoot a problem, using the process of elimination. If we can’t pinpoint the root cause of the problem, the instructor steps in to guide us.

CLC’s stackable certificates, which you earn after completing a group of automotive courses, are awesome. They show your progress toward an associate degree, and I keep each certificate in a photo album.

Besides the excellent instructors, the tutors in the Writing Center have been great in helping me organize my thoughts. Outside of CLC, I work full time for a car dealership as a combination of service writer and assistant service manager. When a customer calls or stops in to report a car problem, it’s very important to listen carefully and then write up the description clearly so that the technician can accurately troubleshoot the problem. On invoices and other documents, correct spelling and proofreading are very important, because when you spell something wrong on a $2,000 repair bill, it looks unprofessional. You need to give customers a perception of value. After completing the automotive courses, I’m totally more confident at work, especially when explaining things clearly to customers.

I’ve made a lot of friends at CLC. Here, everyone’s helpful, kind and warm. And it’s been great to meeting such a wide variety of students in my classes. One woman in an automotive class was retired airplane mechanic. The older students who have previous automotive education or work experience have helped guide us younger ones.

After high school, I completed my general education courses at another community college, then decided to check out CLC. I looked up online reviews, asked people who came here and then visited campus. I noticed that I could stop and ask anyone for directions because people were nice and helpful. At the other schools I visited, so many were “too busy” to help me. I got a good vibe from CLC. Outside, the campus has a beautiful landscape. While attending classes at Grayslake, I like to walk the nature trail past the ponds, past Willow Lake or simply sit in the grass.

My career goal to earn a bachelor’s degree in workforce education and teach auto mechanics at either the high school or college level. I like seeing that sparkle in someone’s eye when he or she sees the information come together. Cars are pretty much science on wheels. Energy gets converted into other forms of energy. Besides mechanical science, there’s the electrical aspect, with volts, amps and diodes. At CLC, I’ve learned how to take apart an alternator and starter and put them back together. I’ve also learned how to troubleshoot problems by recognizing telltale symptoms.

Use the many resources available at CLC, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one will judge you. Don’t be embarrassed or too shy to pursue help or an answers. Everyone at CLC is happy to help you, and you’ll make good friends here.