Honor student plans career as auto mechanic

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2003

She’s not your typical Cinderella, and she’s not a Joan of Arc – she’s Cam Wesley and she’s somewhere in between those two stereotypes.

Cam is a new auto mechanic employed at the Greenville Wal-Mart’s Tire and Lube Express, and according to her boss, Kerry Wagoner, she’s a great mechanic.

But there’s a lot more to Cam than meets the eye – she’s not just some tomboy who grew up to be a grease monkey.

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She graduated in the Top 10 of the 2003 GHS senior class, claimed the Highest Average in 12th Grade English academic award and served as parliamentarian for the GHS VICA club.

But the high school scholar wasn’t interested in the normal path for academic achievers – her future, she knew, was to be found at the end of a torque wrench.

&uot;I decided when I was 14 years old that I wanted to be a mechanic,&uot; Cam said. &uot;I grew up working on cars with my dad at home. He would let me help him, and then when he finished fixing one up, we would go riding around. I loved it.&uot;

So the then-10th-grade Fort Dale Academy student decided to make a move to ensure that she could pursue her passion.

&uot;They didn’t have vocational classes at Fort Dale,&uot; Cam said, &uot;and I just wanted to be a mechanic so bad. I knew I was going to have to go to school for it. My boyfriend told me about the classes at GHS, so I decided to change schools and take the automotive technology course.&uot;

Cam graduated from GHS having completed the automotive technology course with a straight &uot;A&uot; average, and is awaiting her ASE certification.

She plans to work at Wal-Mart and earn enough money to attend the Nashville Auto Diesel College in Tennessee.

&uot;My interest is in high-performance engines,&uot; Cam said. &uot;The college offers several in-depth courses on brakes, transmissions, and a high-performance engine course. The teachers there are highly certified and have worked with NASCAR or in other high-performance arenas. It’s a great school.&uot;

The college program, which includes general instruction and the high-performance instruction, takes about 14 to 15 months to complete and will cost approximately $20,000.

&uot;I’m hoping I can earn enough money to attend the college in the next couple of years,&uot; Cam said. &uot;They didn’t have scholarships for this type of college available, so I’m going to have to come up with the money on my own.&uot;

Graduation from the college will open a lot of doors for Cam.

&uot;The school has a 99.9 percent job placement rate,&uot; she said. &uot;They have recruiters from dealerships and others in the auto industry who interview the graduates. You can pretty much pick any job you want.&uot;

Although Cam holds her own in the male world of mechanics, she also turns a lot of male heads with her good looks and pretty smile.

&uot;Although I love working on cars, I really consider myself as &uot;prissy and girly&uot; as any female,&uot; she said. &uot;My co-workers at Wal-Mart didn’t recognize me when I stopped by on my way to the prom. I love to dress up.&uot;

Cam said that being a mechanic is a challenge, and that she thinks the definition of auto mechanics is changing.

&uot;The engine systems that they install in cars these days are extremely complex,&uot; she said. &uot;You have to be smart to work on them.&uot;

Cam said that her parents completely support her in her decision to become a mechanic.

&uot;My dad thinks it’s great,&uot; she said. &uot;We talk about work together when I get off work each day. Although my mother is concerned about my being harassed by men at work, she knows this is what I want to do and wants me to be happy.&uot;

Cam plans to eventually open a high-performance shop.

&uot;I would love to do custom jobs with super turbos and such,&uot; she said. &uot;When I finish taking the college courses, I will be qualified to do that.&uot;