Report Card: Feeling at Home in the Shop
By Ed Sunkin
Juanita Dodson said the decision to enter the automotive field was an easy one – given that she likes to work with her hands and is motivated to learn new technologies.
When Juanita Dodson of Red Boiling Springs, TN, first started in this field, she always felt like she was the “oddball.”
“I was the only woman in all my classes and the only woman at my work,” she said.
However, after receiving a scholarship from the Car Care Council Women’s Board, she was amazed at all of the industry’s support and realized she wasn’t alone. In fact, she would find her career choice to be one that truly fits her lifestyle and talents.
Dodson recently graduated from the automotive technology program at the Tennessee Technology Center at Livingston, TN. Prior to graduation, she became employed at a trucking company First Fleet and became a diesel technician.
“I really enjoy electrical work, but, since I have been working on semi-trucks, I have developed a love for diesels,” she said. “I have learned how vital diesels are to this country and I would love to build some that are completely green for two reasons, one the environment, and second, to reduce the country’s need for foreign oils.”
Dodson said the decision to enter the automotive field was an easy one given that she likes to work with her hands and is motivated to learn new technologies.
“When I found the auto tech shop on the school campus, I felt right at home,” she said. “I have two older brothers who were always taking things apart and trying to put them back together. Often they would make me help and I remember the sense of accomplishment and the pride that comes with fixing something that is broke.”
Dodson said she is very interested in alternative energy, and would like to further her career by studying engineering and learning more about green energy. Her career got a financial boost last year when Dodson received the 2008 Car Care Council Women’s Board $2,500 post-secondary scholarship.
Dodson said she also wants to encourage more women to get into this industry. “I can honestly say that if you work your butt off, you will earn respect from others,” she said. “I think any woman/man can do this work if they set their minds to it and just keep going.”
In the meantime, the single mother of three children spends a majority of her time outside of school involved in their activities, including Girl/Cub Scouts, basketball and volunteer work. She and her family regularly volunteer at local schools and nursing homes, and they played an integral part in the 2008 tornado relief in Macon County, TN. Dodson also enjoys landscape photography as her favorite hobby.
“I have three awesome children and I always tell them not to be intimidated by the world or the people in it. All the great things in life are hard to get, and never quit because as hard as it seems, this too shall pass,” she said.