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UTI graduate Jackson Chartier has a passion for cars but pursuing a career in automotive and diesel technology wasn’t his plan. Until now.
Even though he spent his childhood working on Corvettes, Skylarks and custom street rods with his father and grandfathers, attending a school for automotive wasn’t part of Jackson Chartier’s original plan.
But it’s part of his Plan B. And he brought his A-game.
Judging by his collection of awards, Jackson doesn’t have anything but an A-game. He was captain of his high school cross-country team and a varsity wrestler. He also won a team dedication and spirit award and received multiple scholarships—including one from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation (more on that later).
It’s an impressive list that’s evidence of Jackson’s determination, and a list that becomes even more impressive once you learn he has accomplished all these things despite having to live with a major distraction. Jackson has cerebral palsy (CP), which affects body movement and muscle coordination.
Jackson won’t tell you that CP has held him back. He actually gives it credit for his persistence. “I can either use my CP as an excuse or as motivation. I’m not sure if I would have been able to accomplish all these things without it, as weird as that sounds.”
He also gives CP credit for ruining his Plan A. “I wanted to be an Army Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and I started preparing myself when I was in the seventh grade. I knew I had to be fit and strong, so I got fit and strong.”
Unfortunately, Jackson’s disability made him ineligible to serve but he didn’t dwell on the disappointment. Instead, he shifted gears and kept his foot on the gas. His affinity for cars and anything mechanical made pursuing a vocational school and a career as an auto and diesel technician an easy decision, not to mention those types of skills are in high demand. It was the perfect Plan B.
While still a junior, Jackson spent his mornings training in the automotive technology program at College of Lake County near his home. He attended his regular high school classes in the afternoon. By the time he was a senior, he had added a part-time job at O’Reilly Auto Parts to his schedule. That same year, when searching for automotive schools, Jackson became aware of Universal Technical Institute and the programs it offered.
“UTI gave a presentation at school and I was immediately impressed. They use late-model technology and have a bunch of relationships with manufacturers. Plus, they’re accredited,” says Jackson. “I really liked the fact they’re an ASE test center and the Lisle campus is a pretty easy drive” from home.
It all made sense. In less than two weeks, Jackson completed his campus interviews and made his decision to enroll in UTI’s Automotive Technology II Program.
As expected, Jackson was eager to begin his training at UTI but something unexpected happened. His high school guidance counselor asked him if he had heard of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation scholarships.
Jackson learned his being a state qualifier in the SkillsUSA Illinois competition demonstrated a commitment to hard work—making him just the type of student the mikeroweWORKS Foundation likes to support.
Following his counselor’s suggestion, Jackson applied for the Work Ethic Scholarship and, to his surprise, was named a recipient. “I’m not even sure I would’ve applied for the scholarship if my counselor didn’t urge me to,” Jackson says. “Then I won. It was a total surprise.”
Jackson graduated from high school in June 2016, and within a month was attending UTI classes and working as an Express Lube Technician at a local Nissan dealership.1 He had considered taking similar training programs at both two- and four-year schools but recognized that UTI had state-of-the-industry technology and that he could be prepared to work sooner.
Being as ambitious as he is, Jackson decided to supplement his auto technician training with diesel training, which UTI offers in a combined program. The Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training programs that UTI offers also were appealing, especially the Mercedes-Benz DRIVE program.15 Jackson always had admired the brand and its engineering. His dad even had an R350, which Jackson would tinker with.
So, that Plan B? Jackson has followed it to perfection. He was a top performer in the Automotive and Diesel Technology II program and later this month he’ll be moving from the suburbs of Chicago to Grapevine, Texas, to attend the highly competitive Mercedes-Benz DRIVE program at the manufacturer’s brand new facility.
Jackson’s family has a saying: “There is no can’t, only I can!” Jackson is quick to add, “And there really is no Plan B. Whatever you’re doing today, that’s Plan A. You only get out what you put into it: work hard and work smart. But it certainly helps when you have support and resources like those provided by UTI.”
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, and to review the applicable Gainful Employment disclosure, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
6) UTI graduates' achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.
Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved to operate by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.