Anna Miller will head to the national SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, KY, in June. She said that inspiration to pursue this career path comes from her dad and grandfather, who have spent much of their lives working in auto shops.
She has picked up skills on the job at 5th Avenue Auto Body and also from her grandfather, who used to own a shop in Quincy. He is “ecstatic” that she is following the family tradition, Miller said.
“He asked me to come in and paint a fender for him, and after that, I really got into it,” Miller said. “I painted my own truck, my own car. From there, I just fell in love with it.”
That was about two years ago, at 15 years old. Automotive quickly became her favorite class, offering a chance for hands-on learning.
West Upton, Miller’s auto shop teacher, said she is a joy to have in class and a self-starter. The skills needed to compete in that category came from Miller’s work outside of the classroom because the campus auto shop does not have the resources to teach that skillset, Upton said.
Usually, there are anywhere from 100--150 kids taking classes in the automotive program.
The fact that automotive classes and the competition have been male-dominated doesn’t faze her, Miller said.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “A lot of the time, people support me more than anything else.”
This was the first time that one of Upton’s students placed first in the category. Miller said she was shocked to win first place.
“I wasn’t expecting to win,” she said. “I was there to have fun and do the best I could do and enjoy the experience of being in Ontario. When they called my name for it, I almost fell out of my seat.”
Four days after graduating from high school, Miller will begin classes at Yuba College, where she plans to take automotive and welding classes and get her associate degree.
“From there I’ll likely be working in shops, working my way up, and hopefully one day owning my own business,” Miller said.