Parent Teacher Magazine Union County Public Schools Sept/Oct 2018 - Page 12

CATA senior revs up for a career in the racing industry There was a time when Central Academy of Technology and Arts (CATA) senior Sam Jackson considered going to a traditional college or university. So he spent a few days with a friend who was enrolled at a nearby university to get a feel of what college life could be like. “That was when I realized that a four-year school wasn’t for me. I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn a trade and work within the next two years,” he said. “Four-year colleges are great, but they’re not for everyone.” So when a NASCAR Technical Institute representative visited Sam’s class during his sophomore year, the experience was a bit of an “Aha! Moment” for him. The technical school, he learned, allowed him the flexibility he was yearning to learn a trade in an industry he was passionate about without having to spend four years in college. He applied to the NASCAR Technical Institute and was accepted to the school’s 14-month automotive program – a program that will put him one step closer to his dream job of working on a racing team building motors and other mechanical-related work. The technical institute couldn’t be a better fit for Sam, who has been passionate about cars for as long as he can remember. It was that passion for cars that led him to be a part of CATA’s transportation academy, where he has spent his entire high school career learning about everything from engines to transmissions. He even helped build the school’s Rat Rod, which is a car built from different parts of other cars. 10 • Sept/Oct 2018 • Parent Teacher Magazine  It’s also that passion for cars coupled with four years’ worth of knowledge about the automotive industry that will give the high school senior a competitive edge over his peers as he begins classes at the technical institute this fall. Reflecting on his time in high school, Sam said leaving the award-winning magnet school will be a bittersweet moment for him. He’s been involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including the varsity football and basketball teams and Superintendent’s Advisory Council. However, he said, he’s looking forward to starting the next chapter in his life. “It’s always important to look at what you want to do and figure out the path that is right for you,” he said. “This is a great opportunity, and I’m grateful to have gone to a school like CATA, where they helped lay a foundation down that will prepare me for my future.”