Meet Nick M.

Automotive Technical Services graduate

“It makes you feel good to help someone out.”

Sometimes, the path to your perfect career can have some twists and turns.

When Nick McSpedon graduated from high school in 2011, he took what he thought was a traditional route to higher education: acceptance and enrollment at a downstate, four-year private university. But, as a new college student, he didn't have much of an idea of what he wanted to study, and it showed.

"I kind of floated around for two years at Fordham (University), trying to figure out what I wanted to do," he said. "Middling grades, C-plus, B student, and eventually I dropped out and just went home for a while." 

With an interest in cars, but not a lot of deep knowledge on the subject, Nick found his way to Hudson Valley's Automotive Technical Services program in 2016. "I knew I liked cars, but I did really didn't know much about them, and I knew getting a trade might be smart idea. It's not something that gets outsourced," he said.

Now in his senior year, Nick smiles when asked if he's found the right fit in college. "I think it shows in the grades I'm getting - a 4.0 last year."

He's also found some mentors and friends among the faculty, who last year encouraged him to apply for the elite $2,500 Garage Gurus Scholarship from Federal Mogul. Only 12 scholarships are given out nationally each year, and when spring rolled around, Nick was chosen as one of the winners.

An entry-level tool kit for Automotive students costs around $6,000, so Nick knows where his scholarship money will be going. He's also taken advantage of other scholarships offered by the college Foundation and even earns a little money as a library peer tutor. Several times each week, he sets up shop in a Williams Hall classroom to help his fellow students with automotive electricity and math.

"It makes you feel good to help someone out. You can't always guarantee that they'll get the help they need, but you can try your best to help them and that's what I try to do," he said.

"Nick's one of the students in this program who has a real diagnostic mindset," said Professor Chris McNally. "He's not happy just fixing a problem. He wants to know why the problem happened in the first place and how to stop it from happening again."