Student Travels Cross-Country to Attend Gwinnett Tech Automotive Program
If it weren’t for missing hard-core winter sports, like snowboarding, Jason Soulliere wouldn’t mind spending six months out of the year in metro Atlanta.
Soulliere is a 20-year-old Michigan native who gets to spend the next two years rotating every two months between Detroit and Lawrenceville to complete the DaimlerChrysler College Automotive Program (CAP) at Gwinnett Technical College.
Soulliere was enrolled in a similar program in Detroit out of high school, but then the college he was attending stopped offering it, Soulliere said. “The next closest program was four hours away and it was way too costly to try to get back and forth [to classes] for half a year,” he said.
But when Soulliere found out Gwinnett Tech offered the CAP program, he called his sister in Cumming to tell her she was getting a new roommate. “I thought it would be cool to go to two different states [to complete the program],” Soulliere said. “[Having his sister close by] made it easy for me. I couldn’t have afforded to pay for an apartment.”
The way the program works, Soulliere will spend two months at a time in Michigan working at the dealership where he is currently employed, gaining hands-on experience he’ll need to be successful post-college. He’ll then spend the next two consecutive months in Georgia attending classes at Gwinnett Tech, gaining the classroom instruction he will also need to ensure he’s successful post-college. And so on and so on, until he completes the program.
Soulliere began on this path a few years ago as a sophomore in high school. He began an internship, working with the dealership where he has remained employed for about four years. Once out of high school, the dealership sponsored Soulliere for the CAP program. As his sponsor, the dealership pays half of his tuition to complete the CAP program and he is still considered part of the internship program. In return, Soulliere signed a contract that would keep him with the dealership where he is employed for an additional two years once he has completed his education/internship.
As an added bonus, Soulliere will receive $1 extra on top of what he’s currently making - for every hour he’s put into the program. And he will also have earned his associate degree in applied technology from Gwinnett Tech.
“My goal is to have my own company one day,” said Soulliere. Another benefit of Soulliere’s inter-state education arrangement is that he will likely learn more about that possibility. Not only will he be able to learn more about the corporate dealership’s aspect of business, but he’ll also get the first-hand perspective of a private company, as well. His uncle in Cumming has his own automotive company and Soulliere gets to learn more about that business avenue. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Soulliere said. “I get to see the dealership and a private company all at the same time – so it works out. And [Gwinnett Tech] has a good program. Plus, I’ve always been a Chrysler fan.”
One final bonus of attending school in Georgia every other two months – “the weather’s real nice,” Soulliere said.
As a graduate of the program, Soulliere will have the skills needed to work in a number of capacities, including as a trained service and repair technician, service writer, parts manager or service manager, as well as other supervisory positions, with a specialty in DaimlerChrysler automobiles.
Gwinnett Tech’s DaimlerChrysler CAP program is one of only 30 programs nationwide, and the only CAP program in the state.