Ever since Jordan Shaw can remember, he’s been interested in mechanics – whether it was toy cars as a toddler or, later, when he was working on the family van.
And now, the 17-year-old Elgin Park Secondary student is taking that passion for taking things apart – and fixing them – and turning it into a career.
Shaw was one of a handful of students from the school chosen to participate in a competitive district-partnership program between the Surrey School District and Kwantlen Polytechnic University that will see him complete his first year of post-secondary at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary – then, later at KPU – while finishing up high school.
“I’ve always liked fixing stuff and taking things apart,” Shaw said last week, as he prepared to begin the program. “I remember, when I was three years old, I would have (remote-controlled) cars that I would crash down the stairs and try to fix them.
“I guess that’s what got me into it.”
Shaw first heard about the program through his career-education department head, Camila Muir, who noted the program is a foot in the door to post-secondary.
“They’re already signed up, they have a student number,” she said. “It’s a big benefit, especially for parents, because the (first year of) post-secondary tuition is paid for by the Surrey School District.”
With more students like Shaw looking to begin a career in trades, Muir said the demand for this kind of program is high.
“It’s not a ‘dummy program,’ as people in the past used to associate trades with,” she said. “These kids have to do well in math for sure, they have to complete a math test, a panel interview and have community and teacher references.”
One of Shaw’s references comes from mentor and shop teacher Johan Mynhardt, whom the teen credits with encouraging his passion for mechanics.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mechanic until I started this class,” he said. “He’s a great teacher – really funny and helpful.”
Prior to taking automotive in Grade 10, Shaw was already honing his skills as a mechanic. At 12, he was tasked with maintaining the family’s “road trip vehicle” – a 1990 van.
“I had to keep it going,” he said. “I did a lot of researching on my own, YouTube videos and then this auto class that I started taking.
“We ended up selling it for $1,000 more than we bought it for.”
While attending the program at Lord Tweedsmuir, Shaw will complete in-class work and then work in the shop on muscle cars that are involved with the drag-racing team. Then, in June, Shaw will attend KPU, where he plans to complete his post-secondary education.
Following school, Shaw has his sights set on opening his own shop.
If all goes as planned, he may even have some in-family help.
Pointing to a Volkswagen Bug at the Elgin shop, he notes that his younger sister, Avalon, 15, is focusing on fixing it up.
“I may have gotten her into automotive, too,” he laughed.