Alumni often credit great professors for helping them find success, both during their college years and long after.
But for recent graduate Jack Frederick and Automotive Technology Professor Ron Downing, the relationship they've built over the past four years is a great example of just how far a student can go when they connect with the right mentor.
"I wouldn't have been here if not for him," said Frederick, a native of Wichita who came to study with Downing after hearing about him through the SkillsUSA organization. Frederick was already involved with the group at the high school level before meeting Downing, who had trained two silver medalists and best of nation winners in the automotive portion of the world competition.
Soon, Frederick became his third. The two worked countless hours together in the automotive lab, preparing for Frederick's incredible win last year as the silver medalist in the WorldSkills automotive competition, where he mastered multiple automotive obstacles. Now back in his hometown, Frederick has landed a well-paying job with Davis Moore Automotive.
For Downing, who got into teaching after learning the tricks of the trade years ago at his father's automotive shop, said he benefits as much from the energy and excitement of students as they do from his knowledge.
"My goal is to leave the trade better than I found it," said Downing, who has been recognized multiple times as an outstanding teacher by PSU as well as the American Vocational Association, and continues to serve as the national automotive expert for SkillsUSA. "I love working with young people and seeing them succeed. If I can pass that on, then I feel like it's all been worth it. That's why I teach."