Breaking The Mold – December

November 30, 2015

Whether she was playing in the mud as a child or spending time at her grandfather’s construction business, Northern Maine Community College automotive technology (AT) student Ali Goodwin has never had a problem getting her hands dirty.

From Southwest Harbor, Maine, Ali has fond memories of growing up around mechanics and heavy equipment, which led to Ali’s interest in the field. Prior to attending NMCC, Ali spent two years at the Hancock County Technical Center (HCTC) where she studied automotive technology. According to Ali, her family was surprised that she decided to attend the technical center to study this trade. Perhaps this was because Ali was also a cheerleader at Mount Desert Island High School, where she cheered at football and basketball games for four years. Although very different, Ali enjoyed being a mechanic and a cheerleader. “Doing both was interesting. People weren’t expecting it, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to think outside the box.”

From the moment Ali stepped on the NMCC campus, she knew that it was where she needed to be, stating that she felt a sense of belonging. “It feels like home.” Ali is used to living in a small community and prefers the small campus environment that NMCC offers. Ali applied at five different community colleges and was accepted to all of them, however, NMCC was her first choice.

Other than a few scrapes and scratches, Ali states that she has never had a bad experience in her program. Ali states that she gets along well with her peers and has developed friendships with them. “I act like one of the guys and I joke around with them. I get along better with guys than girls.”

Growing up around males and participating in the automotive technology program at the HCTC made it easier for Ali to enter a non-traditional field. According to Ali, she was the only female in her class to finish the AT program at HCTC.

Ali takes great pride in the work that she does and enjoys seeing vehicles that she has worked on out on the road and operating correctly. “It makes you feel good about yourself, knowing that the work was done right. I feel proud that I accomplished something. It’s a self-confidence boost.”

Ali works for her grandfather during the summer months as a mechanic, conducting oil changes on dump trucks and excavators, traveling to pick up parts for equipment, and completing other tasks that need to be done around the shop. Ali reports that this job has been a great experience for her, as she has had the opportunity to network with employers in the Bangor area. She has established strong business connections with a variety of people. In fact, one employer offered her a job if she gains more experience in diesel hydraulics.

In recent months, Ali has developed an interest in diesel hydraulics and is considering dual majoring in automotive technology and diesel hydraulics at NMCC next year. She feels that having knowledge and skills in both areas will benefit her professionally and broaden her career opportunities. When Ali graduates in May of 2017, she plans on obtaining employment at an automotive or diesel shop. “I want to find a good job that pays well and is close to home, doing what I want to do and enjoy doing.”

According to Ali, females may be at an advantage compared to men when it comes to size. Being small in stature, Ali can fit into tighter, more confined spaces that men generally can’t fit into. Height can be considered both a strength and a challenge. “It’s easy for me to stand under vehicles when they are on a lift and work on them, but sometimes I can’t always reach things.” Ali feels that women are perfectionists when completing tasks, another strength that they can contribute to the field.

Ali offers advice for females considering NMCC to pursue a non-traditional program, including being focused and motivated. “You’re there for you and to get an education, not to please everyone else. You are there for your future, to get a job and make a living.”

Ali’s tips for success: “Focus and make sure you do your homework. If you don’t understand it, ask questions. Don’t fall behind or drop out. You need to do this for your future.”