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Mechanical Ambition: The Story of Roseburg High Senior Harrison Brooks

8:54 PM · May 15, 2023

In the automotive classes at Roseburg High School (RHS), there is one student whose dedication to mastering his craft sets him apart from his peers. His name is Harrison Brooks, a determined young man whose dedication has driven him to become one of the most accomplished automotive students at RHS. Today, as he gears up for his next adventure - enlisting in the Marine Corps - we delve into his remarkable journey. Brooks discovered his passion for automotive repair in his freshman year. While other students may have spent their leisure time in more traditional pursuits, Brooks found himself drawn to the challenge of fixing cars. “I didn’t know much about cars going into my freshman year. Now I’m doing (vehicle) tear-downs and rebuilds, all from what I learned over the past four years,” he shared. His dedication to the craft led him to take automotive classes for four years, in addition to two years of welding. Over time, he garnered 15 college credits, primarily through RHS, and earned nine automotive service excellence certificates. This impressive array of achievements was further enriched by internships at Dodge, Les Schwab, and Ford during his last three years of high school, totaling 174 hours in his final year alone. Beyond acquiring technical skills, Brooks also honed his leadership capabilities as president of the Roseburg High School auto club during his junior and senior years. At the heart of his success is the guidance of Don Zell, a seasoned automotive instructor with 14 years of teaching experience. Under Zell's mentorship, Brooks didn't just learn about the practical aspects of automotive repair. He was also introduced to the standards of the industry, a key factor that Brooks attributes to his growth. "It’s a great program. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the program and my instructor," Brooks expressed. Zell, who has been shaping the automotive program at RHS into one of the top programs in the state, takes great pride in Brooks’ accomplishments. His goal, he says, is to train and prepare students for the real world, and seeing former students thriving in the industry is a testament to his efforts. Brooks’ high school journey wasn't all work, however. One of his most memorable experiences was attending the SEMA automotive trade show in Las Vegas. “It was an incredible experience. We met people from all over the world coming together for one purpose. Really opened up our eyes to how big the auto industry is,” he recalled. With his high school graduation looming on June 3rd, Brooks is eager for his next challenge. He leaves for basic training on June 12th to fulfill a long-held dream of serving his country as a Marine. In honor of his grandfather, who was also a Marine, and armed with the skills and knowledge he's gained from his automotive experience, Brooks will begin his military career as a wheel mechanic and light armor mechanic, starting at a higher rank and pay due to his certifications. “I’m excited about graduating, excited about becoming a Marine," Brooks said. "I just learned a lot about the auto industry standard in high school, now I’m going to learn the military standard. I’m looking forward to the challenge.” As Harrison Brooks transitions from high school to military service, his journey serves as an inspiring example of the power of dedication, hands-on learning, and a passion for one's craft.

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