MARIETTA, OHIO— Dakota Vaughn is following in the footsteps of his grandpa. The Washington State Community College (WSCC) Student of the Month has big shoes to fill, but with his dream job already in place and his associate degree within sight, he’s well on his way of living up to the reputation his grandfather established as the “go-to-guy” in the world of engine repair.
Vaughn is finishing his final semester in the Diesel Truck Systems program at WSCC. Taking classes by day and working at night throughout his enrollment, he has successfully balanced school with his full-time job in the maintenance department at the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority…a position he loves. “To be able to repair the buses knowing that I am able to provide transportation service to many people, makes you feel like you are making a difference in someone’s life,” Vaughn said. “I feel honored that I can fix the busses and know that they are safe to get people to the places they need to be. I feel lucky to help out.”
Vaughn is carrying on the mechanical legacy established by his grandfather Ken Smith who was a well-known tractor mechanic in the MOV. And while Smith passed away before he met his grandson, he was reputed for being the best. “If you needed anything fixed, he was the man to call,” said Vaughn. He added that before he was hired by the transit authority, his now boss checked his references and inquired if he was related to Smith. When he confirmed the relationship, “he laughed and told me that his father owned the dealership where my grandfather worked.”
The 20-year-old Parkersburg native decided to pursue an associate degree in diesel truck systems because he wanted to extend his grandfather’s mechanical legacy. He also said his degree not only gives him the skills required on the job, but it, “shows that I have been properly trained…and certifies my knowledge.” He credits his success as a student to his dedication to his work. “I give every assignment my absolute best. I put forth the effort to learn because, looking ahead, I will know that I took the time to learn and it will pay off by becoming successful in my work.”
The evidence of Vaughn’s work ethic is apparent, not only by his near-perfect GPA, but by the quality of the work. “When Dakota tells you that he’s given something his best effort, you can count on it being done right,” said his instructor and the auto diesel program director, Joe Nutter. “Not only does he have the skills and talent to be successful in the field, he has leadership skills that will make him invaluable to an employer.”
Vaughn is the recipient of the WSCC Presidential Scholarship, the Denver Singer Scholarship, the Schwendeman Agency Foundation Scholarship, and the J. Ryan Graham Scholarship. He will complete his coursework in December and will graduate in the Spring of 2022.