‘Earning industry-recognized certifications’ – King nominated for Academic Excellence Award

Southeastern Community College automotive technology student Zachary King was nominated for the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award. Pioneering the revived automotive technology program, King will be the first student to graduate with automotive credentials after the program’s more than 30-year hiatus at SCC.

“While I was in high school, I discovered a passion for the automotive field while working part-time at Blacks Tire Service,” King said. “This interest continued, and I was ready to enroll in an automotive program after graduation.”

King explained that SCC’s automotive program started with limited resources but soon grew into a multi-garage program that makes use of three flex lab spaces on campus. He said that his instructor, Johnny O’Connell, has taught him the skills and safety needed for the industry.

“I am now excelling in this program, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and earning industry-recognized certifications,” King said.

O’Connell said attendance, attitude and growth were King’s best qualities. O’Connell explained he could rely on King to show up for class with a good attitude. He was impressed with King’s growth in class.

“That first semester was tough with getting him to speak up and participate, but now he is confident to get the repair work done, ask questions and work well with other students in the classroom,” O’Connell said. “He has one of the best attitudes of any student I’ve ever had and has never said anything back to me. I’m pretty hard on him sometimes, and he takes it and learns from it.”

Participating in the SkillsUSA competition in Greensboro in April 2023 was a significant milestone for King. As a first-year student, he ranked in the top 20 automotive students in North Carolina. He plans to participate again later this month.

“SCC has not only equipped me with technical skills and certifications but has also supported my education through scholarships like the SCC Success Scholarship,” King said. “The college has played a pivotal role in shaping my career path, offering me a comprehensive, hands-on learning experience in the automotive industry.”

King’s favorite part of the automotive program is learning how to work on many types of vehicles. He said he has learned more about EV technology in addition to regular gas-powered vehicles. When King graduates in May, he will be a certified Hyundai, Genesis and Ford technician.

According to the official award guidelines and criteria, each nominee must “be enrolled, have completed at least 12 semester hours in a curriculum degree program, nine hours in a diploma program or six hours in a certificate program, and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25. The Academic Excellence Award recognizes and encourages scholarship among the students in the North Carolina Community College System. This award honors students who have set the highest possible goals and attained the pinnacle of academic success.