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Tuesday, 16 May 2017 18:00

Student Goes From Sheet Cake to Sheet Metal

Written by Sarah E. Reynolds


Painted Fender By Thia Carter
Gold medalist Thia Carter shows the fender she used in her job skills demonstration at the Maine SkillsUSA competition. She will take her demo on the road in June to compete in the nationals in Louisville, KY.


Thia Carter, of Camden, ME, has been an auto body repair student at Mid-Coast School of Technology for less than two years, but she has come a long way in that time – far enough to win a gold medal for her job skills demonstration in the SkillsUSA Maine competition, held at the United Technology Center in Bangor March 2 and 3.


Carter, who is taking a post-graduate year at MCST this year, said she got interested in working on cars a couple of years ago. As a senior, she transferred from the baking and pastry program to auto body repair after talking to teacher Danica Wooster, who encouraged her to give it a try. Carter said she got some flak from boys in the class, and felt “weird” at first, but then she decided she didn't care. When the boys saw that she knew about as much as they did, the harrassment stopped. Having a female teacher also helped a lot, she said.


“I've always been fascinated with transportation,” Carter said, talking about what drew her to the program. She added that she is attracted to the artistry of painting cars and also likes helping people. When she was interviewed, she was working on a car that was donated to the Knox County Homeless Coalition, which it was going to provide to one of its clients to help them get to work. The mechanical side of cars holds less appeal for her, she said, though she has to use some mechanical knowledge in doing body work.


When she took first place at the state SkillsUSA competition, “I was so psyched... I was over the moon!” Carter said. “It was a sense of accomplishment.” She demonstrated the process of painting a car, showing each layer of paint on a cut-away model she had created, and explaining its function. She plans to tweak her presentation in preparation for the national competition in Louisville, KY, June 19 to 23.


In order to attend the national competition, Carter, like all the competitors, must raise $1,500, half of which had to be raised by April 7, with the rest of the money due a week or two before the competition. MCST students are selling T-shirts with business sponsorships to raise money and doing digital photo conversions of paintings. In addition, students will be holding fundraising events, to be announced. Carter had $300 in business sponsorships as of mid-March, and planned to send a letter to family and friends asking for their help as well.


“The national competitions are an amazing experience for these students,” Wooster said, so donations to individual students or to the MCST team are appreciated. Contributions for the team can be sent to the school.


Carter would definitely encourage other girls to come to MCST for auto courses. “The teachers here just pour in the love and support,” she said.


Wooster attested to how far Carter has come, saying she can now just tell the student to do something, and Carter goes and does it with no further direction. If someone else in the class needs help, Carter steps in and shows them what to do.


Beginning this fall, Carter plans to be a student in the criminal justice program at Washington County Community College in Calais.


We would like to thank VillageSoup Knox for reprint permission.



CAPTION - (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)

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