The Nashville I-CAR committee and the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) came together to award a lucky collision student, Zac Stephens, with a full scholarship.
“We’re inspired by your (Zac’s) passion and commitment in the industry and life in general,” Kyle Medeiros, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and chairman of the Nashville I-CAR committee, said at the presentation.
Stephens hopes to run his own repair shop one day, with a focus on honesty. After he thanked I-CAR and CREF for his scholarship, they shared a quote from his application essay:
“My goal in the industry is to bring a whole new outlook on auto body shops. I hope to eventually start my own business that focuses on the honesty of the employees and the quality of the finished product. When I’m the most trusted in the business, you will be content in knowing that you helped me get there.”
“This scholarship is going to allow Zac Stephens to step into the industry without a financial burden, which we hope propels him to reach his dreams quicker,” said Medeiros. “We decided to erase 100 percent of his debt because of his excellence in the classroom (3.94 GPA), plus his story was inspiring. He has a true passion for this industry and is committed to a future in it.”
Past scholarship recipients in Tennessee have benefited from the work of the local I-CAR committee’s fundraising efforts. Morris Rothfeldt, Jr., a Nashville scholarship recipient from 2017, said, “Earning a merit-based CREF scholarship assured me that I was not only pursuing something I loved, but that my passion assured results. I think most everyone wants to be good at what they do; that means so much more when you do what you love, especially when more lucrative opportunities avail themselves.”
The local I-CAR committee also held a TopGolf fundraiser on April 16, the proceeds of which will benefit CREF in supporting Nashville-area high school and college collision repair programs. The Nashville I-CAR committee, in conjunction with CREF, offers tool grants and scholarships to local students every spring.
“TopGolf was an amazing experience,” said Medeiros. “It was our first year hosting the fundraiser at TopGolf. The demand to be a part of the event was overwhelming, and we ended up with 200+ attendees from all different avenues in our industry.”
The annual tool grant and scholarship is open to collision repair students in Tennessee.
“It’s no secret that our industry faces a technician shortage in the near future,” said Medeiros. “Our committee wants to make sure we’ve done everything possible to change that narrative in our local market. Investing in our local schools and students is the first step in that change.”
Collision repair scholarships continue to make a difference in students’ lives after graduation.
“The scholarship made it easier for me to afford an education and be able to support my dreams after college,” said Crystal Burt, a 2017 scholarship recipient. “Right after graduation in August 2017, I was able to acquire a job at Camping World in Anniston as a collision technician, where I worked till October of 2018. I was then promoted to OEM parts coordinator for the location, and that is where I still am working today.”
Industry members interested in joining CREF’s supporters and assisting high school and post-secondary collision school programs should contact CREF Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode at (312) 231-0258 or [email protected].