Your Car is Telling You Something

CTE Students

Shaina Griffin’s interest in automotive issues started when she was about eight years old. Her uncle had a Chevy Nova from the 1960s that she had early exposure to, and in the years that followed, as family vehicles encountered problems, she always seemed to be on the scene helping. “At first it was handing tools to people,” explains Shaina, “But as I got older, I listened and watched people diagnose problems and do repairs. From an early age I understood common car issues and how to fix them.”

Shaina is one of two female students in MCC instructor Taylor Wolfe’s one-year automotive program, which covers steering, brakes, suspension and engine performance. Students work on their own vehicles, each other’s vehicles, and also those brought in belonging to MCC employees. “The variety is important. The more diverse the vehicles are, the more we learn to recognize issues with many types of cars and trucks.”

Shaina’s college journey wasn’t typical; after giving birth to her daughter, she took time away from high school, circling back later to complete her education through the College and Career Readiness program at MCC. Once she had her high school diploma in hand, it was time to choose a career path and she always knew it would be automotive-related. “Automotive technology is obviously about maintaining and repairing vehicles, but it’s also about problem solving,” explains Shaina. “You need to be curious and have perseverance to do well in this field. You also need to use all of your senses; the car is telling you something, you just have to smell it, hear it and feel it.”

Shaina hasn’t encountered much push-back to her being a woman in a mostly male-oriented field. “It really is about your abilities. If you can fix the car, that’s what matters.” She also likes working with men, she has been tomboyish her whole life and appreciates there is little drama in a service center. “Mr. Wolfe keeps us all on track in class, step by step. He is such a great teacher, he treats us like adults and always encourages us to try things on our own before he steps in to offer another option.” Shaina also credits her husband and family for supporting her journey and education.

Shaina has advice for all of us regarding our car choices. “I drive a 2007 Saturn, probably one of the few left on the road,” admits Shaina. “I bought it in the rain, which was a bad decision in itself.” That being said, Shaina is capable of maintaining her vehicle and keeping it in running order. For the rest of us, she suggests we speak with our mechanics before buying. “They can tell you exactly what not to buy. They know what they are constantly repairing and how serious the problems are, just ask them what to stay away from!”