YUKON — The number 79 is written large on the white board in the Automotive Service Technology classroom at Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Holt Campus.
It’s a source of pride for several dozen students enrolled in the program — pride in teamwork and individual achievement.
Seventy-nine is the total number of student certification exams passed in automotive service excellence.
The tests provide students with their first industry-recognized credentials.
“We just can’t get the full ASE certification until we have worked in the field for a year,” said Yukon student Jacob Manuel.
Manuel, 21, has completed five of nine student ASE certifications while attending just a half-day at Canadian Valley since August.
Without the credentials, auto service technicians are required to work two years before qualifying to take full ASE exams.
“I hope to take one more exam before the year is over,” Manuel said.
Manuel enrolled at Canadian Valley using the Next Step Scholarship, which provides free tuition to adults under age 24 who live within district boundaries.
“I like cars,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I like working with my hands. I like repairing something — and if I can see the outcome of it working — it’s pretty satisfying.”
Manuel admits his success in the classroom might not have happened just a few years earlier while he was attending high school.
“Everybody is different,” he said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do then. I feel like if I took this class when I was in high school, I probably would not be doing as well as I am.
“I don’t know that I would have the maturity or the work ethic. I finally realized I am not going to get anywhere unless I do something.”
The end is in sight, though Manuel won’t officially complete the class until next fall.
Justin Roberts, one of two Automotive Service instructors at Canadian Valley, said the tests are nearly identical to the full-blown ASE exams, though on a smaller scale.
“These are tough tests,” Roberts said. “The prerequisite for taking the student ASE tests is passing state competency tests, so the students who complete both come to understand discipline.”
Manuel said he envisions himself working on fleet vehicles.
“A lot of kids are in a class because they have to,” Manuel said. “A lot of them wake up every day thinking they have to go to school.
“Every day I wake up and think to myself that ‘I get to go to school.’ I want to be here to learn. It’s very fulfilling.”
Bill Kramer is communications and marketing coordinator for Canadian Valley Technology Center.