JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Greater Johnstown High School senior Cheyenne Penrod signed a full-time job agreement with Thomas Automotive on Tuesday as the first area student to be awarded a scholarship through a program the company introduced this year.
Penrod has worked for Thomas part-time as an automotive technician through her vocational co-op. Finding out she’d be offered a full-time career after high school was thrilling for her.
“I was super-excited,” she said. “I couldn’t wait.”
The scholarship includes a one-year apprenticeship at the company that she has fulfilled already, $1,000 in cash, $2,500 worth of tools and guaranteed employment.
There were four awards handed out in the Thomas markets of Johnstown, Bedford and Cumberland, Maryland.
“It came out of the need for service technicians,” Thomas Automotive talent resources Manager Keith Kuckenbrod said of the program.
Kuckenbrod said there aren’t many individuals pursuing the career, which is why the company added the incentive.
Penrod enrolled in the Greater Johnstown School District automotive technology vocational program her freshman year and has worked diligently ever since.
She credits her father, Kenny Penrod, and her uncle for her advanced skill in the trade. She said she spent a lot of time in the garage with them growing up, learning everything she could.
That, coupled with her interest in how mechanics work, led her to the automotive tech program, where instructor Thomas Mattis said he could tell she was an adept learner and a good candidate for a co-op position.
Cheyenne Penrod moved up through the program and sought out the Thomas position.
Mattis commended her mastery of the material and said she received the highest score on the NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) exam that he’s seen in his 16 years at the school.
He joked that the “worst thing you can tell her is, ‘I don’t think you can do that,’ ” because Penrod then makes it her mission to accomplish the task.
“She’s come a long way,” Kenny Penrod said, adding that she continues to impress him.
Cheyenne Penrod’s mother, Darlene Penrod, added that she thought mechanics was a hobby and didn’t expect her daughter to turn it into a career.
“I’m very proud of everything she’s accomplished,” Darlene Penrod said.
Michael Dadey, high school principal, was excited about the achievement as well. As the school’s principal and vocational director, he’s proud of Cheyenne Penrod’s accomplishments.
“This is a great opportunity, not only for Cheyenne, but for Thomas and our students,” Dadey said.
Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.