Trading Years of School for Years of Joy

Azura McGlothlin always thought she had a plan for her life. She graduated high school with a 4.7 GPA while playing soccer competitively. She was accepted to Baylor University on the pre-med track. Even after the first semester she was doing well in school but when she went home for Christmas break, she started to rethink everything.

“I was on the premed track and started to realize it wasn’t something I wanted to do the rest of my life,” she said. “It wasn’t something that fit me because I like to live my life and be comfortable. Going to medical school and being on that track until your late twenties and in your thirties, you finally start making enough money to actually pay off your debt and start living your life. That wasn’t something I would enjoy.”

Azura had been taught her whole life that the only way to be successful was by going to college.

“That was the only way you could survive. That was always what I was told and what I always thought was the truth,” she said. “I am glad and grateful that I did well in high school, so I had the options. I had the choices, I had the offers to play soccer in college, but I decided I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to start working and moving my life forward.”

Azura began to investigate other careers that would give her a faster start. She explored welding, law enforcement, game warden, and auto mechanic; she even took a mechanics course at a college closer to home. It still wasn’t a fit. She knew she wanted to work with her hands and a traditional college didn’t give her the opportunity to do that. Through an online search, she found UEI College’s Oceanside campus and decided to give it a chance. Just over a week later, she was getting started in the Automotive Technician program.

“I loved the hands-on aspect of it and also seeing how they were just like me being interested in cars and trucks, but they actually understood how every part plays a role in making one whole unit move,” she said. “It was so interesting to me. I wanted to be able to explain everything the way they did. I didn’t want to just say that’s a cool car or that’s a cool truck. I want to know how they work, how to fix them, everything in between.”

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“She’s smart and she has a drive that most people don’t have,” said George Hammel, Azura’s instructor. “She is very enthusiastic about getting stuff done. She has a lot of positive points. It’s fantastic. Any time I need to get something done she is right there saying no problem, I will get it done.”

Azura was only a few months into the program when she began noticing more of the vehicles around her. Her genuine passion for what she was learning helped her make a connection with Revolt Systems, a shop in Oceanside, California that works on Tesla vehicles. By chance, Azura met some of the shop’s staff at an In-n-Out and struck up a conversation. After a shop tour, they offered her an internship. That experience gave her the courage to apply for an internship at Tesla and just four months into her automotive training program, she was accepted.

Tesla’s paid program teaches students how to make all kinds of repairs on Tesla vehicles. At the end of the four-month program, there is a chance to be hired on full-time.

“It’s amazing. I’m so grateful,” Azura said. “When I started with UEI I had a plan to get a job and start working near the end of the program. I figured I would only have three months left and that’s about how long it takes to get acclimated to a new job and then I could start my career from there. I’m only in unit 4 and I got my first job in mechanics three units in and I’m going to start by my 4th unit. I set a goal for myself, and I actually got it. It’s really cool.”

A year ago, Azura recalls scrambling, worrying about the years of schooling and debt ahead of her. After taking a step into the unknown to pursue a passion, doors have opened that Azura never expected.

“Now that I’ve figured it out and I’m about to start my first real job, I feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident in what I’m doing now because I know it’s something I enjoy,” she said. “Even if four years from now I decide this isn’t what I want to do, I kept moving and found something new to try. This is something I enjoy right now so why not just go with it.”

“Ultimately there are opportunities in mechanics to make just as much money now and to be just as comfortable now as someone who goes all the way through college and takes up years and years of their life to get a degree and then go into a job that they don’t even enjoy that much,” she continued. “For me, living a life that’s more fulfilling and seeing the numbers because I’m going into the career now, is just something that fits me better. I wish more people knew it was an option.”

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