Katie Juarez is an 11th grade automotive student at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Katie excels academically and in her automotive trade. A proud National Honor Society Member as well as a student ambassador for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, Katie is credited as a bright, positive person with a great attitude and drive to learn. As a part of the Bullard-Havens Automotive Work Based Learning program, Katie was hired this past spring by a local Land Rover dealership. Her mentor at Land Rover describes her as a great apprentice. Welcome to Katie Juarez!
Katie, what first inspired you to take automotive classes?
What first inspired me to take automotive classes was the amount of experience I had with cars growing up. I would often see my dad fix up old cars, old trucks, stuff like that. It made me want to learn and experience what it’s like to use my hands with a wrench and it just made me want to experience it and see what it’s like. I chose it because I looked up to my dad and it was something that I wanted to learn more about.
What has your journey as a Harbor Freight Tools for Schools ambassador been like?
The journey for me as an ambassador has been a very cool experience because I had the opportunity to meet the creators of the company and I got to meet so many other students across the United States. One thing about me is that I want to see more women in the industry. During an interview—I was so passionate about it—I was just like, we need more girls because I feel like if we have more girls, then that’s going to open a pathway for other girls to join too, because the trade itself is male dominated. I feel like if we add more girls to it, then it won’t be as intimidating.
How challenging has it been to get a taste of the workforce while in your junior year? Tell us a little bit about your internship.
As a junior in the workforce, it gets difficult because it’s the third year of high school and that’s the time where you must focus on college applications and you have to do this, you have to do that. So, it can get really challenging at times. When I first started working at Land Rover, I was kind of a little overwhelmed because I would miss some material or forget what I learned in class after spending a few days at the dealership. It’s been a little complicated, but now I’m learning how to balance it all.
What has been one of your favorite projects to work on in the past?
My favorite project to work on is changing brakes. When we first did brakes, we were on training carts. I remember my caliper wouldn’t go in. It just would not go in. I remember having a whole mental breakdown that I couldn’t do it. I kept getting mad because everybody else could! I knew that I could get it done but I needed to overcome the challenge first. Just the feeling of overcoming it was the best and now I do not even hesitate to do brakes and rotors anymore.
Can you tell us your plans for the future?
One of my plans is to continue to be a woman in a male industry. I want to push for that. I want to show people that girls can do it too. That we’re capable of doing the same thing as a male. I want to keep pushing it and open a pathway for other girls that want to learn how to do it. I want to keep learning about the automotive industry, because from my point of view, it changes a lot. A last goal is to open a business. I would like to start a woman-owned auto business.
Katie’s Instructor, Roxanne Amiot says, Katie is a wonderful student, and I’ve had many students over the years. She really takes initiative. She’s bright and she immediately caught my eye. She’s very positive. She’s very bright. She’s very articulate, and she’s just well-rounded in auto. She’s a perfect fit for your student of the month because she has all the pieces put together, and I’m so proud of her and what she does here in the school, but also at her dealership. She’s the full package.