Meet Dereck Chetram, October's Student of the Month
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Meet Dereck Chetram, October’s Student of the Month

Meet Dereck – He’s a senior at Thomas Edison High School in Queens, NY, and the October Student of the Month!


Dereck Chetram is a senior at Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School, in Jamaica, Queens, New York, and a seasoned collision repair technician even at his young age. He’s considered a leader in the classroom and a committed volunteer with SkillsUSA.

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How did you get started in the collision industry?
My dad has been a heavy man, doing chassis repair for about 22 years now. As I was growing up, I would see him working and going to shops. He never hesitated to take me places when I would ask. So I’ve just been around the industry and met a lot of people along the way. It’s just one after the next, something has always given me a step up into the industry and I like doing it.
I work at Gotham City Collision. My bosses have all given me a helping-hand. I do pre-scans, post scans and do diagnostic work for them. Occasionally, when there’s higher end cars with ADAS I program the systems for them. It’s helped me be a better worker and having work experience really does help in the world. When I meet people that I don’t know, I’m able to speak to them with confidence because I’ve been in that position.

Have you been able to translate your job back into your classroom?
Going to Thomas Edison high school, I’ve been able to develop leadership skills and problem-solving skills, and it’s just tremendous help being next to my instructors Mr. Roopnarine and Mr. Kalloo, along with Mr. Haripersaud.
When I go into the classroom having my prior knowledge from my job, as well as Mr. Roopnarine knowing what I’ve done before, and him working very closely with me is, whenever I see a kid working on something and I’ve done it before – and not saying that I excel at it because there’s many things I still have yet to learn – but he gives me the opportunity to teach somebody, because his very model is, “If you can be able to teach somebody what to do, you’ll become a better worker yourself.” That’s how I became a leader in the classroom.

Have you been able to stay active with your education even though your classroom has been shut down during the pandemic?
While I was at home during the COVID-19 we got locked down really hard here. So I decided for the safety of my family and myself, I’d rather stay in the house.
At the start of June, I started thinking about going back to work because I did feel myself slacking off. I’d go in the backyard, help my dad with one or two projects, but there’s only so much things he had stored up around the house, it wasn’t much to do. So towards the end of June, I decided that I needed to go back and start working.
It was really tough going back to work for 40 hours a week. But I made it happen, thanks to a lot of my co-workers and my boss, especially the occasional text from Mr. Roopnarine saying, “How are you doing, kid? Are you okay?” It’s just been a challenge, but the things that really kept me going was knowing that there’s always something better to do and something more to learn.

Speaking of learning, what’s next?
I’m not sure yet. As a first-generation American I want to be one of the first people in my family to go to college. So that’s definitely a goal for me.

Dereck’s Instructor, Barry Roopnarine says “Dereck is in his 3rd year of the collision program at Thomas A. Edison CTE High School. In his time here he has demonstrated true leadership skills in and out of the classroom. When we went into lockdown for COVID he continued learning his trade and as soon as he was able to he quickly returned to his internship at Gotham Collision. Dereck’s dad is a collision repair technician and has work alongside with me to help him become the best technician he could. Not only is he technically sound, he is also a member of SkillsUSA where he spends his weekend and free time doing various community service events in the neighborhood. It is refreshing to see young people with a passion for the collision industry and Dereck continues to demonstrate these traits in and out of the classroom.


To nominate a student for the Continental Student of the Month program, visit

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