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October 17, 2018

Skills USA Gold Medal Winner Sam Peterson

Sam Peterson unknowingly started down his career path as a young boy by taking everything apart. Items like clock radios, appliances, and small gas engines, were just the beginning. “I just wanted to see what made them work.”

Sam, now  22, grew up near Clear Lake, Minnesota. His mother, Patty Jo, is an elementary teacher and his dad, Glen, is self employed as a mechanic. Sam learned a lot of his mechanic skills from being around his dad and spending time at his uncle’s farm. Basic engine operation, electricity, and doing maintenance and oil changes were some of the first skills Sam learned.

“In time I grew to stop wanting to just take things apart, I wanted to be able to put it back together again and see if it would run.”

How or why did you choose St. Cloud Technical and Community College for your automotive career? “I wanted to go to college, and SCTCC had a solid reputation as being a good automotive program. That, and it was close to home, so I could save money.  I grew up around ag equipment and working on it was ok as a hobby, but I knew I didn’t want to work on them for a career, and I had more interest in cars anyway.”

Sam undertook his education in a non-traditional sense. “I started in January (spring semester) and I was at SCTCC for 2.5 years. Going for my AAS degree takes a semester longer, but that also gave me the opportunity to be involved with Skills USA for 1.5 years. My first year in Skills, I competed in our local (SCTCC) competition and won 1st place. Then I was able to compete in the state competition, and placed second at state as well. My last year at SCTCC, I took a general education course to complete my AAS degree and be involved with Skills USA for my final semester at the college. I competed in the local, and state competitions again, but this time I placed 1st in each of them. Then it was on to Louisville, Kentucky for the Nation Skills USA Conference.”

Sam would go on to compete at the National Skills USA Conference, and earn the Gold Medal (1st place) in the Automotive Service competition.

Currently Sam is employed at Mike’s Repair in St. Cloud MN, works part time at Auto Value in St. Cloud and assists at the SCTCC automotive lab as well.  Sam holds an Associate of Arts degree (AA) and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Automotive Service Technology, both  from St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

What are your plans for the future? “Well for right now I want to work and build my skills as an automotive technician and then possibly one day own and operate my own repair shop, or even teach Automotives to the next generation of students.”