The following is from the Oregon Youth Employment Program (OYEP) Team:

This is the success story of senior, Caleb Zambrano of Ridgeview High School, located in Redmond. Caleb was struggling to stay focused in school, was unmotivated, and close to failing during the pandemic. He didn’t want to show up to remote learning and even lost interest in socializing with friends. When school returned to in-person learning, he again felt motivated and wanted to succeed by graduating on time with his class.

Caleb got his first job at Walmart where he was primarily tasked with retrieving grocery carts, which he found to be easy and simple. In this position, he was making decent money and meeting new friends, but he felt unchallenged and was considering a future career. When he was young, he was always fascinated by cars, studying makes and models and eventually learning how to build cars. He started working on his older brother’s car as a hobby, which helped him clear his mind, pass time, and develop new skills and relevant knowledge for the number one form of transportation in this county.

He wanted to make his hobby into a career, but wasn’t sure how to make the connections for a real-world experience. Caleb heard about the Youth Career Connect (YCC) program offered to students at Ridgeview High School. Kate Soliz, director of the college and career center, scheduled a one-on-one appointment for Caleb to meet with Internship Specialist Daniel Seddiqui. They discussed different areas of interest and Caleb told Daniel that he wanted to be an auto mechanic. Daniel assisted Caleb in finding Earp’s Auto and the owner, Jason Rutledge, agreed to host interns as a trial of the YCC program.

The three Earp’s Auto mechanics took Caleb under their wings, and he was learning rapidly by being challenged through mistakes. He felt they have been great teachers because of their patience to problem-solve as a team. They never judged him for his lack of knowledge and the team understood this was his first-ever position in mechanics.

Caleb has excelled in his internship and created meaningful relationships between Earp’s Auto, the high schools, and Youth Career Connect. Caleb texted Daniel, “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I would never have had this unless you came to my campus.” Youth Career Connect thrives with these types of experiences and values the support from grants for wages to turn dreams like Caleb’s into a reality. Caleb plans to further his education by going to trade school with all the knowledge from his internship. Caleb hopes to someday own a Toyota GR and to work on an S-15 Nissan Silvia.