Taryn Reichow graduated from Winona State University last spring with a major in legal studies and a minor in Spanish. So how did she end up in the automotive technology program at Minnesota State College Southeast this year?
“Auto mechanics has been on my mind since high school. Everyone is surprised because it’s something that I never shared with anyone,” said Taryn.
Taryn grew up in Glencoe, a small town west of the Twin Cities. While in high school, she took enough college-level classes to cover most of the general education requirements. That meant when she started at WSU, she was already a year ahead, so she was able to graduate in only three years.
She had always been fascinated by automobiles, especially the restoration of classic cars. “My grandpa had a vintage Dodge truck that he completely restored when he was first married,” she said. “My grandmother used to tell me how he would have the entire engine in pieces laid out on the living room floor!”
In high school, Taryn didn’t know how to find resources to learn about fixing cars since her school didn’t have any automotive shop classes. After finishing her senior capstone as an intern in a law office and graduating from the university, she was curious about options and searched online for automotive tech programs.
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When she learned that there was a great program close by in Winona, she made up her mind to take a fourth year of college to pursue her long-held interest.
The Automotive and Light Duty Diesel Technology diploma at Minnesota State College Southeast is an intensive undertaking. Students attend for two semesters and one summer session to complete 24 theory and lab courses. Taryn will graduate in August with a 54-credit diploma.
She was excited about the opportunity to study in a program led by Amanda Evenson. As a female student in a predominantly male field, she has found a welcoming environment at MSC Southeast.
“For me it really made a difference having a female teacher,” Taryn said. “I have never felt different in Amanda’s classes. I fit right in with my classmates. Nobody ever feels ‘less than.’ We’re all just students. Some of us have had experience working on cars, some have not.”
Taryn said that she loves working on cars because she likes solving puzzles. “Last semester we started with the basics — brakes, suspension, steering. This semester we’re digging into the big systems and parts, pulling out engines, working on drive trains. I feel like a car is just a big puzzle — I love a challenge.”
Taryn isn’t sure whether she’ll pursue a career in automotive and light duty diesel mechanics after she graduates. In fact, right now she’s looking into law school applications. But wherever her future may take her, she’s confident that she’ll be comfortable working with cars and maintaining her own.
Her grandpa’s Dodge truck is still in storage in a barn out on the family farm. “Maybe