PBSC automotive students receive Grainger scholarships
Ruben Cabrera and Mitchell Ramos, classmates in Palm Beach State College’s Automotive Service Technology program, have each received a $2,000 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow® scholarship from Grainger, a leading distributor of maintenance, repair and operating products.
The Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program, offered in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges, helps students earning an associate degree or certificate in skilled trades or public safety fields. In addition to the scholarship for tuition and books, recipients receive a Westward® professional toolkit upon graduation, tailored to their field.
Cabrera and Ramos are two of 165 students nationwide who earned Tools for Tomorrow scholarships in 2015. The scholarship is offered at 125 participating community colleges, chosen for the quality of their skilled trades and public safety programs. Each college is offered two scholarships per year, with applicants vetted by Grainger. In addition to having a 3.0 or higher GPA, students are judged by an essay, letter of recommendation and outside accomplishments or activities that show leadership.
Cabrera and Ramos knew early on that they wanted to pursue automotive careers. Cabrera, a graduate of Royal Palm Beach High School, plans to run his own automotive business. Ramos, a graduate of Park Vista Community High School’s Automotive Academy, was 12 years old when he started working on his father’s truck. “Automotive has always been in my blood,” he says.
For both, this scholarship will go a long way toward defraying the cost of the final stretch of the two-part Automotive Service Technology program. Each student delayed starting the program to earn money for the tuition. They have completed the first half and stressed that even with financial aid, there are a lot of out-of-pocket costs. The entire 18-month program averages $5,600 for in-state students, including the cost of books and safety equipment.
“Once you want to be a mechanic, you have to go to school and paying for it is really tough,” says Cabrera. “The fact that Grainger helps you continue your education and gives you tools…a scholarship like this is very good for people who want a future in the automotive field; it will help me a lot.”
While some students stop after completing part one of the Automotive Service Technology program, taking both parts prepares students for all exam areas leading to professional certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
“The more I know, the more it’s going to help me out in the field,” says Ramos. “And taking the full program, with the help of this scholarship, keeps me motivated, it keeps me going. It makes me happy knowing that my parents won’t have to help me pay for school—that I’m actually paying for school through something I earned.”
With the well-publicized nationwide shortage of skilled workers, Grainger and AACC hope to develop future leaders in the skilled trades and public safety. Since its launch in 2006, Grainger Tools for Tomorrow has awarded nearly $3 million for more than 900 scholarships, with half going to veterans. PBSC is among five Florida colleges participating, including Florida State College at Jacksonville, Miami Dade College, Seminole State College and Valencia College. This is Palm Beach State’s first year participating.
“Through the Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program, Grainger is investing in the future professionals in industrial skilled trades and public safety,” said John Barrios, Grainger’s West Palm Beach market manager. “We are proud to partner with Palm Beach State College and believe business and community college partnerships are one solution to building a stronger workforce.”