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MMI Grad Emory Rouhselang Moved Cross-Country to Get His Education

Oct 29, 2021 ·

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When people pursue a passion, it often requires sacrifice and dedication to achieve what they’ve set out to do. Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) graduate Emory Rouhselang can certainly relate to this sentiment.

Emory’s journey took him from northwest Indiana to Phoenix, Arizona, where he completed the Motorcycle Technician Training program alongside his stepdad, Rory Cavanaugh, aka “Popz.”

Keep reading to find out more about Emory’s move, his experience with the program and the Harley-Davidson specialized training he took!

A Growing Love for Motorcycles

Emory grew up in Dyer, a town of about 16,000 people in northwest Indiana, and spent his time on 4½ acres that he describes as his family’s “own little slice of heaven.” He took more of an interest in motorcycles when Popz entered the picture in 2010 and brought with him a new Harley-Davidson Wide Glide®. Emory’s parents bought dirt bikes for him and his brother to learn on, and after getting his driver’s license at 17, Emory received his motorcycle endorsement. He traded in the dirt bike for a Buell Blast and eventually a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster Hugger™.

When talking about the introduction of motorcycles into his life, Emory says, “I soon realized that the lifestyle was set apart from normal life, and there was a thrill like no other.”

He says it was around sophomore year of high school that his parents were hinting at the idea of him going to college, but that “(I) wasn’t particularly fond of going to school for another four or more years for something I wasn’t entirely interested in. When the school had college fairs, and groups from all over came, I never did see anything that stood out. That’s when Popz brought up MMI.”

Emory says Popz had planned on attending MMI years earlier, but life had gotten in the way. As a longtime motorcycle rider, Popz wanted to have the knowledge of taking them completely apart and putting them back together. He was also a die-hard Harley-Davidson rider.

The enthusiasm and passion Popz had for motorcycles — and Harley-Davidson in particular — had an influence on Emory, who says he was convinced there couldn’t have been a better brand. MMI stood out since it offers specialized Harley-Davidson training. He adds that attending MMI “seemed like the perfect choice to escape having to go to college and being able to work with my hands.”

The Start of a New Chapter

Attending MMI was a decision that took some time to prepare for, since it would require a move from Indiana. Emory says, “We sold what we could at a flea market over the course of a year, and what we couldn’t sell we donated or threw away. I think we got rid of over four tons just from what we threw away. It’s amazing how much a family can accumulate.”

During the road trip, Emory says there were more issues than he could count, from failing fuel injectors on his parents’ truck to a wheel bearing meltdown on the trailer they were pulling. Despite these struggles, they did eventually make it to Phoenix!

Emory and Popz attended classes together from start to finish while also holding down full-time jobs outside of school. Emory worked in the auto care center at Walmart, where he was able to become familiar with how tire machines worked — a skill he said was a big advantage for changing motorcycle tires at school.

He also says, “It was a fun job where I was able to become more familiar with basic car maintenance. I ended up working alongside several other people that were attending MMI, and my boss had even graduated from UTI.”

Specialized Training and the MMI Experience

Balancing work and school took lots of hard work and time management, but Emory and Popz both completed the Motorcycle Technician Prerequisite (MTP) program and enrolled in the Harley-Davidson Late Model training program to get the chance to gain experience working on their favorite brand.

After graduating from the Late Model program, both enrolled in the Screamin’ Eagle® and Early Model training. “We were both challenged with the curriculum, but it was definitely worth it,” Rory says.

MMI’s manufacturer-specific training allows students to get more hands-on experience working on specific models. MMI is the only technician training school offering a Harley-Davidson specific elective curriculum aligned with Harley-Davidson University™.

The Late Model program that Emory and Popz took focused on the service and repair of late-model Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and dealership operations. The Screamin’ Eagle® program helped get them familiar with the Screamin’ Eagle® line of bikes, and the Early Model training program worked to expand their knowledge of the maintenance of Harley-Davidson vehicles dating to 1936.

Emory says that overall, he had a great time while attending MMI, adding, “I (also) enjoyed the moto courses we took before Harley started, because we were able to expand what we would be working on to dirt bikes and different manufacturers. We had some truly outstanding teachers that made that experience that much better. Every teacher seemed devoted to their work, and some went above and beyond to give a little extra help when we needed it.”

Emory took the time to call out some of his favorite instructors, including, “Jeff Nitzel, David Dyck and Jason Montgomery.”

Making More Moves

After they graduated in 2019, both Emory and Popz kept a close eye on MMI’s job board. They didn’t plan on living in Phoenix, and Emory’s parents were leaning toward moving to Tennessee.

Emory and Popz sent their résumés to several places in eastern Tennessee in case something opened up. Emory says MMI was very helpful with assisting him in building and sending out a résumé, as well as setting up a Skype interview with a dealership.

Eventually, they were contacted by Bootlegger Harley-Davidson in Knoxville, Tennessee, to talk about the possibility of coming aboard. It wasn’t long after that, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut everything down, including the dealership.

“No one knew what was going to happen in the near future, but we packed up anyway and moved to Tennessee in hopes this would all work out,” Emory says, adding, “Shortly after we did get here, businesses reopened and we were both able to conduct formal interviews in person.”

Popz got a job at Bootlegger Harley-Davidson in the parts department, while Emory started working at Bootlegger as a porter. He and the service manager talked about how there was a waiting game to see what would happen due to the pandemic.

Then things began to shift. “Slowly, I was able to work on bikes and buy tools in the process,” Emory says. “Small things like tires and oil changes led up to where I am now as a technician, doing just about anything they throw my way.”6

He adds, “I get to work with some great people that help me out if I’m ever in a pinch and have some great technical knowledge under their belts. I mainly work on touring bikes, which seems fitting for the area. Tennessee is full of winding back roads, and the touring bikes have the largest gas tanks on top of being the most comfortable for all-day riding.”

Apart from wrenching and working on customer bikes, Emory says the coolest thing he’s gotten to work on is his own bike. “I bought it just over a year ago now, and I’ve spent a lot of time customizing it slowly. Whenever I get bored, I think of something else I can do to make it look different or faster.”

Advice for Aspiring Motorcycle Technicians

Emory’s story shows that with hard work and dedication, you can find success in a field you’re passionate about. Both he and Popz gained an education that allowed them to find jobs working with a brand they both love.1

When he’s not working, Emory says he’s usually spending time with family or riding. There’s always something to do in Tennessee, he says, and “Every now and then we’ll go out toward the mountains for a drive or find new places to eat. I’ll throw my kayak in the water every now and then if I want to cool off or explore a nearby lake.”

Though he’s settled in nicely to his role at Bootlegger Harley-Davidson, Emory says he has more goals for the future, including becoming a master technician. “It’s a distant goal that I have no intention of completing anytime soon, but I’m looking forward to all the experiences ahead.”

Emory offers some advice for those wanting to pursue the same career path based off his own experience starting as a porter: “Some dealerships are only looking for experience, so if you can find somewhere to start, even if it’s not the position you want, it could be a huge benefit to you. Even if you’re not where you want to be, you’ll meet plenty of people that could point you in a direction you might want to go.”

Train for an Entry-Level Career at MMI

Did Emory’s story inspire you? If you’re interested in pursuing a similar career path, getting the right education and experience can make a big difference. The Motorcycle Technician Specialist training program offered at MMI can help give you the foundational knowledge you need to pursue an entry-level role.

You can also pursue specialized training like Emory did, by taking Harley-Davidson training or exploring the other brands MMI has relationships with: Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and BMW Motorrad.

Get more information when you connect with an Admissions Representative today!

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1) MMI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

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.

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