College of the Canyons student Zoey White was four classes away from completing her animation degree at COC before she decided to switch gears and immerse herself in the world of automotive technology.
“I was going through a lot of personal troubles trying to figure myself out, my true wants and needs,” White said in a news release Wednesday. “I had a small bit of motivation, but was highly lacking in direction.”
Although the young student had always enjoyed art, she would soon begin to discover that animation wasn’t the right path for her. Instead, White opted to head into the world of automotive technology, which reminded her of the times when she’d watch her mother work on the family car or teach herself how to fix certain household objects in an effort to save money.
“That motivated me in a way I never imagined and sparked an interest in me like I hadn’t had before,” White said. “The more I watched her and had people tell me it was something I couldn’t or shouldn’t do, the more I was determined to do it.”
White’s resolve was further emboldened after an interaction with a man on-campus who watched her add coolant to her car in between classes. Despite White’s polite refusal for help, the stranger kept asking her if she knew where the fluids went, how much to pour and if she knew what she was doing.
“He stayed and watched me until I was practically done and for some reason it bothered me,” White said, adding, “I realized I wanted to know more. I wanted to make more people look like he did when he realized I truly wasn’t clueless. I wanted to surprise more people. I wanted to do something not many women want or even think about doing. I wanted to be a mechanic.”
White said in the release she was determined to move back to her home state of Illinois with a degree in hand, so she threw herself into her automotive studies. And since she
had completed all of her general education classes, White finished her degree coursework in three semesters.
“COC was the means to my success by putting the opportunity in front of me and making things available to me,” the soon-to-be graduate said. “My family was more of my pusher and motivation in those terms because my goals became finishing school, getting out on my own, getting a steady and good job, and furthering my education down the road when I can afford to do so.”
After finishing her studies at COC, White, who will be crossing the college’s commencement stage on Friday, May 31, moved to Sullivan, Illinois, and works for Hydro-Gear, a leading manufacturer of precision drive solutions that makes transmissions for companies such as John Deere.
“Getting a degree kind of motivated me to want more and made me realize I was more capable than I had previously realized,” White said before she offered up advice to students who find themselves in a similar situation.
“I would tell them not to give up because the path we are destined for is not always clear and easy to understand,” she said. “It will not always be easy, but when you achieve what you were meant for it will all be worth it. A popular quote I like comes to mind, ‘Not all those who wander are lost.’”