As a lifelong car buff, it should be no surprise Automotive Technology student, Ryan Hael, enrolled in the program at College of Western Idaho (CWI). However, up until 2022, he had been too nervous to pursue a career to further his passion.
“Coming into this field I knew very little about cars except for the simple stuff like oil and changing light bulbs,” said Hael. “I had a big love for cars my whole life, but it’s only been from a distance and seeing cool cars on the road, but it stopped there.”
Luckily for Hael, he has had a support system close by to help him take that leap into the auto industry. His mother encouraged him to further himself and his education by looking into what CWI’s Automotive Technology program had to offer.
After doing some research and checking out the Automotive Technology program’s orientation, Hael was sure the College was the place for him. He was drawn to the labs and classroom space students were able to utilize while in the program. He also was eager to take advantage of the program’s equipment, from the beginner tools such as sockets and wrenches to the more advanced resources such as a belt tensioner.
“I am extremely happy with my choice, meeting new people and seeing the passion my professors have for the automotive industry has increased my love for cars even further."
Through the Automotive Technology program, students learn about jobs like maintenance and light repair, electrical systems, engine repair, engine performance, automatic transmissions, and more. The program utilizes local partnerships, students in the program are even able to gain an internship and work at an industry repair shop.
In addition to the program's equipment and technology, students, like Hael, invest in their own tools and toolbox which they then take with them after completing the program.
“It is expensive, but it will pay for itself in the long run.”
Thankfully through the support of the Nagel Foundation, Hael was able to apply for one of their scholarships and use the funds to cover some of the costs of his tuition and tool fees.
The Nagel Foundation scholarship fund was established at the College in 2019 to keep the legacy of the Nagel Beverage Company alive by enriching and giving back to the community through education and service. To date, thousands of dollars have been awarded from the fund as scholarships to second-year career and technical education students.
Now in his second year in the program, Hael is grateful to the Nagel Foundation for supporting and believing in students like him. It has afforded him to succeed in the program by putting much of his focus on his studies.
“This scholarship has relieved so much stress off my back of having to try to apply for loans and struggling to scramble funds to pay for my tuition. This scholarship is also helping me be able to stand out in the automotive field by having tools that will help me work faster and do jobs that other technicians won’t be able to do without those tools.”
Being part of the CWI community has afforded him the ability to follow his dreams and learn more about a field he has had an interest in, but never felt confident enough to pursue. Thanks to encouraging family, instructors, classmates, and supportive community members, like Nagel Foundation, he feels like he can thrive in the program and is confident enough to become Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified and pursue a future career at a local car dealership.
“I can’t put into words about what I have gained through the Automotive Technology program. I have learned so many useful and impactful things that I can use to help myself and others for a lifetime. Because of CWI, I am bettering myself and able to do things I never thought I would be able to by myself.”
Scholarship applications for the 2023-2024 academic year at CWI are open through Nov. 30.