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Keep learning because you really can do anything you put your mind to

Recent STC Automotive Service Technology graduate Leandro Martinez says the key to success is, “You have to believe in yourself.” Like many high school grads, Leandro (who goes by Leo), had some big decisions to make about his future. “I was scared. I didn’t know what I was going to do next.” Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, Leo took a step back and weighed his options. He was good with his hands. He liked carpentry and had experience in the field. He was also employed at a small mechanic shop doing lube tech and performing oil changes. Leo liked construction a lot. He was good at it and knew it could be a lucrative and successful career but as much as he liked construction, he LOVED working on cars.

Leo decided he wanted to become a lead mechanic. He enrolled in STC’s Automotive Service Technology Program and says instructor Devan Westerlund was instrumental in his success. “Mr. Westerlund was the best because he helped me get so much hands-on experience and training. He is so knowledgeable and patient and genuinely invested in the success of every student.” Leo graduated from the Automotive Program in November 2022 and is currently employed with Waste Pro, one of the country’s fastest growing privately owned solid waste collection, recycling, processing and disposal companies. Leo is responsible for maintaining and servicing the garbage trucks.

According to Leo, “Not a lot of young people want to work on garbage trucks and surprisingly, skilled workers are really hard to find.” He is grateful and appreciative of his boss who Leo says encourages him to keep learning and does not get mad when mistakes are made as long as they are learned from. He is also thankful to his family who are his greatest supporters and always pushed him to ‘KEEP AT IT’. “I would tell anyone interested in this career (or any career for that matter), to never doubt yourself. You are going to make mistakes but you are also going to learn from them.” Leo says to stick with whatever it is you want to do and also to keep your options open to learning a little bit of everything because that knowledge can apply not just to many professions but to different aspects of life.

“I go to work every day to a job I love. I am making really good money and I learn something new almost every day. I had a part time job doing small scale mechanic work and now I’m working on air systems, hydraulics, brakes and oil changes on a much bigger scale. It’s amazing!” Leo says the most important aspect of his job is safety. “The job can be dangerous and no one should ever be overly confident. I have to be certain these trucks are in perfect working condition.” Not only does Leo enjoy repair work, he also loves driving these massive trucks, the opportunity to travel, and best of all, the family that he gets to come home to. “If I had one piece of advice to give (in addition to never doubting yourself), I would say to just keep learning because you really can do anything you put your mind to.”

For more information about the STC Automotive Service Technologies Program, please visit our PROGRAM link at or contact a school counselor at 941-924-1365 / Ext. 62283


January 9, 2023

By Laurie Dillon