For second-year Brookdale student Elizabeth Kruse, college is already starting to pay off.
The 19-year-old Automotive Technology major is currently enrolled in the college’s GM-ASEP program, which allows students to spend half of each semester working at a General Motors (GM) dealership or an AC Delco repair facility.
This summer Kruse is working alongside a team of qualified technicians at L&M Auto Center in Lincroft, earning a salary and college credit as she learns the ins and outs of the automotive field.
“I really like it,” said Kruse, of Freehold Township. “Everyone at the shop is supportive and will always call me over to teach me about things that I’m not familiar with. The fact that I’m getting paid makes it that much better. I hear students talking all the time about how hard it is to get a job in the field they want, and here I am going to school for what I love, I have a job in the field I want and I am getting paid. It really makes me happy at the end of the day, and there’s nothing else I can ask for.”
On campus, Kruse has also made a strong impression with her instructors, lab assistants and advisors. Following her first year in the Auto Tech program, automotive coordinator Ivan Anderson decided to recommend her for the prestigious GM Women’s Retail Network Scholarship, which recognizes and supports high-achieving female automotive students at colleges across the nation.
“When that scholarship came to me, I thought of Elizabeth immediately,” said Anderson. “GM-ASEP is a very demanding program. She is tackling it with grace, always scoring very high on any submissions and even assisting in the tool room outside of class. She was recently involved in a motorcycle accident – when she avoided a deer that jumped in front of her – and she came to work in the tool room while still in a cast.
“That is the type of person she is,” Anderson added. “She has unmatched perseverance and shows a level of reliability that is rare. She has a smile on her face all the time and rises to any challenge you put in front of her. She is nothing short of fantastic.”
Those attributes helped Kruse win the Women’s Retail Network Scholarship, earning $2,500 towards the rest of her Brookdale training.
“It’s kind of crazy to me that I got accepted. It just seems so unreal,” said Kruse, who first discovered her passion for automotive work as a young teenager, helping her father repair a 1972 Chevrolet Nova in the family driveway. “I truly feel honored that I was selected for the scholarship.”
Following graduation in 2017, Kruse said she plans to get right to work as an automotive technician. There she hopes to join a long line of Brookdale automotive graduates – like L&M Auto Center co-owner Lenny Cardone – who have already made the transition from aspiring mechanic to professional success.
“The Auto Tech program has changed my life,” she said. “It’s introduced me to some of the most amazing people, the best technology and a chance to do what I love. It’s safe to say that joining the auto program was one of the best decisions of my life.
“This [GM-ASEP] program kick started my career,” she added. “It really helped me get my foot in the door, and it got me the in shop experience of what it’s going to be like. Without the GMASEP program I don’t know where I would be, but I probably wouldn’t be working in a shop and I definitely wouldn’t be enjoying life as much as I am right now.”
Learn more about the Brookdale Automotive Technology program here.