A love for cars was shared with his friends beginning at a young age, but Dustin Mauger's career plan began to take shape during his time at Boyertown High School and the Berks County Career and Technology Center. "A lot of my friends were into cars when I was growing up," said Dustin, 2013 high school graduate and liberal arts major at RACC. "Then in 8th and 9th grade, they start showing you the tech program and you get to take a field trip and pick two programs to visit."
Halfway through his freshman year, Dustin applied to the Automotive Technology program and was accepted. "They have a garage with bays and shop cars that are donated for us to work on. They try to set it up as much like a regular shop as they can," he said.
As part of the tech program, Dustin split his sophomore and junior years between the high school and the CTC. He would head to Boyertown and catch an early bus out to the CTC, and then be bused back to Boyertown for afternoon classes at the high school.
Dustin said he learned how to perform maintenance work like tire rotations and oil changes, as well as larger repairs like timing belts and oil pumps. "Besides the garage, there was a theory room that served as a classroom. We had books and regular classwork like essays," he said. "I preferred learning about cars for an hour over some of the other high school classes."
By his senior year, Dustin had interviewed and been offered a co-op at Tri-County Toyota. He was assigned a mentor from the dealership who showed him the ropes. "It was a lot of oil changes and tire rotations - basic stuff - when I first started so they could see what I knew. As you start getting better, they might say, 'You're going to learn how to do this today,' and show you something new and more advanced."
By the summer after his senior year, he became a full-time employee at Tri-County Toyota. He has earned his emissions and inspections license, as well as his refrigerant handling license. "They do what they can to keep you since you already know their system and how they like things done," he said.
During his high school years, Dustin found himself with a unique opportunity. The Anti-Defamation League picked 20 ninth graders to serve as peer leaders and teach younger students about diversity and bullying. The peer leaders participated in three days of training on the "No Place to Hate" program.
"We would go classroom to classroom and do activities and show video clips," he said. "One activity would be to break them into groups and give each group a lemon. They had to study the lemon and then we put all the lemons in a pile to see if they could find their lemon. It was great for diversity.
"The teachers told me that thought I connected with the students and would make a good teacher," he added.
Now Dustin is well on his way to combining his love of cars with his interest in teaching. He is considering Temple University's career teaching program after he finishes his degree at RACC. Dustin is one of the President's Scholarship recipients, a prize awarded annually at each Berks County high school. The scholarship covers two years of tuition at RACC.
High school seniors can apply for RACC Scholarships here.