Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Campolindo High ROP student hones his auto repair skills over the summer

Nick Holbrook
On a very warm July afternoon, Campolindo High School student, Nick Holbrook, was found in the bustling Nick’s Mercedes Service repair shop, located in Lafayette.  Dressed in the shop’s mechanic uniform, Holbrook was assisting one of the shop technicians with a transmission flush and ignition tune-up on a mid-2000 Mercedes.  Holbrook, an incoming high school senior, is working at his first ROP internship this summer at Nick’s Mercedes.  It is the repair-shop’s first experience of offering an ROP internship as well. 

Steve Boone, Holbrook’s ROP Advanced Automotive Technology teacher, at Campolindo, recently checked in with his student at the work place: “Nick [Holbrook] is doing fine and still has the excitement in his voice when he talks about the shop.  Nick Wilhelm (proprietor of Nick’s Mercedes) and the rest of the employees are wonderful people, and they tell me how great Nick Holbrook is, working and learning in their shop.  Nick's mentors are Andre and Jerry, who are the full-time technicians at the shop. Nick [Holbrook] only had wonderful things to say about these guys.” 
In his classroom, Boone says that Holbrook is one of his hardest workers in the shop.  “He goes right to work and always tries his best.  He is eager to learn and always willing to give a hand to anyone working on a car.”

Holbrook reports that the internship has been, “Awesome!  I have been learning so much this summer.”  Holbrook said that he will be taking ROP Advanced Automotive Technology II this coming fall at Campolindo. 

Wilhelm said that Holbrook’s internship has really worked out well.  “He and I talk every day about the cars in the shop and the repairs we are providing.  Yesterday, I worked one-on-one with Nick [Holbrook] for two hours on a car.  He is a quick learner, and he’s getting a lot of hands-on experience working with Mercedes models that range from 1980-2007.”

Boone recalled that earlier this year, Holbrook came to him a few times after class asking questions about the possibility of a summer internship.  “I answered his questions and he took a liking to the idea, even though I was pushing him to take an unpaid internship.  With an unpaid internship, I can get the local auto shops in the area interested in working with us, because ROP will pay for the work-site insurance coverage that is needed while the student is being trained.”

Boone asked Holbrook to come up with a list of auto-repair shops he would like to work for.  Holbrook came back with a prioritized list, with Nick’s Mercedes on the top.  “I called them up, talked to them about Nick [Holbrook], and how he wanted to intern in their shop.  Soon after, they all met together, along with Holbrook’s father and Contra Costa County Office of Education Principal of Student Programs Sally Savage, to discuss and finalize the internship contract.
The entire staff at Nick’s Mercedes is still amused – as well as impressed – with Holbrook’s arriving to work on time, but exactly a week early.  Apparently, he wanted to time his bike ride from home to work on a weekday morning, just to make sure he knew how long it would take him to show up on time, when he officially started his internship.

What sparked his interest in working with cars?  “Before entering high school, I enjoyed taking mechanical things apart, figuring out how they work, and then putting them back together,” said Holbrook.  Though he never worked on cars, he was hooked after taking the Beginning Automotive Technology class, also taught by Boone.  After he finishes high school, Holbrook said he would like to attend an automotive technology school.  “My goal is to work for an independent car repair shop, just like Nick’s Mercedes,” Holbrook said with excitement in his voice.

Thanks to an encouraging ROP teacher, internship opportunity classes, and, of course, his supportive family, Holbrook’s goal will certainly be achieved in the upcoming years.  And maybe someday, another Nick’s specialized repair shop will be opening up in the area.

(l-r) Nick Wilhelm, Nick Holbrook, Steve Boone
The Contra Costa County ROP serves 11,000 students with classes in 33 high schools throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties.  Currently, there are 361 state-of-the-art career-development classes in this program.  ROP focuses on career preparation, hands-on experience, and academic excellence to prepare students for success in college and future careers.  ROP provides students with the newest equipment, rigorous academic standards, and classes in emerging technologies.   All of the ROP classes, internships, and programs are directed by and funded through the Contra Costa County Office of Education.  For more information about ROP, visit their website