Sam Leonardi counts Automatic Transmissions as a favorite class, nabbed an internship in the service area of Merollis Chevrolet and just received a $2,000 scholarship from Grainger Tools, which included some sweet additions to the aspiring service tech’s toolbox. It’s only when dealing with some clerks at auto parts stores that the 19-year-old Lakeview High grad is reminded about currently being the only woman in the GM ASEP program.
“Luckily in my school and work, it’s not an issue,” says Leonardi, whose full name is Samantha. “But I still have to deal with it when trying to have conversations about cars with some people.”
A corporate-sanctioned automotive technician training program that leads to an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology, GM ASEP is 80 weeks long, with time divided between classroom/auto lab and a GM dealership or private repair facility.
“The experience has been awesome. I have been with these same guys for two years and some of them will probably be lifelong friends,” says Leonardi. “The experience at the dealership has been great as well. I have learned a lot and made a lot of friends there too.”
Leonardi looked under her first hood in the company of her father and, after taking every auto tech class Lakeview offered, one of her teachers recommended her for Macomb’s GM ASEP program in her senior year. The only thing compromising her loyalty to the GM brand now is the classic car she has spent years dreaming about.
“The 1969 Dodge Charger is a beautiful vehicle, and has a lot of potential,” says Leonardi. “I want one that has a V8 Hemi motor with a blower on top and off-road suspension package. Flat black, with chrome trim, and a red stripe wrapped around the rear end.”