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TCC’s automotive program put Ryan Wright on the road to success

A car enthusiast from an early age, Ryan Wright remembers playing with all kinds of Hot Wheels. By high school, he was spending countless hours working on his aging Hyundai Accent.

Just 20 years old now, he has just bought his first new car – a 2016 white Hyundai Veloster.

“It felt great being able to go out and buy a car,” he said. “I’d say I’m doing pretty well for myself.”

Wright will graduate from Tidewater Community College on May 14 with four career studies certificates in automotive technology: Chassis Systems, Engine Performance, Electronics and Powertrains.

And he’s just one English class away from earning his Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology, which he hopes to complete by December.

Wright, a Virginia Beach resident, is also taking industry-recognized credentials with him from TCC. He holds two ASE certifications – one in steering and suspension and the other in brakes. He also has his Virginia State Inspection license.

Not only that, he has a full-time job – with benefits – as an apprentice on the service team at Checkered Flag Toyota, doing everything from maintaining vehicles, to diagnosing and repairing problems.

“I know I got this job because I was already working on my degree through TCC,” he said. “I’ve moved up because my knowledge base has grown and I’ve worked hard and have a good attitude.”

Ryan Wright in his own words

A 2014 graduate of Kellam High, Wright completed his hands-on labs at the Regional Automotive Center and through his cooperative education hours with Checkered Flag.

“I knew I was never going to be a guy with a desk job,” he said. “I enjoy working with my hands, and at the end of the day, I like knowing I’ve actually done something.”

He hopes to one day open his own repair shop.

“I want to create a great place to work and hire people who are really committed to quality customer service,” he said.

For those coming after him, he urges, “Pay attention during lectures and during the labs, get in there and put your hands on stuff. Doing the work is really the only way to learn,” he said.

Earning degrees and taking classes at TCC is a family thing for the Wrights.

Sister Haileigh Wright, 21, is also graduating this May with an Associate of Science in Business Administration. Twin brother Randy, 20, is working on a transfer degree and plans to attend Navy Officer Candidate School.

Older brother Harrison Dunn, 25, took classes at TCC and then joined the Coast Guard. Dad, Randall Wright, also studied at TCC before transferring to Old Dominion University.