A Devastating Accident Leads Gabe Leon to a Rewarding Career Path

July 24, 2023

In 2019, Gabe Leon worked for an arborist, working with his hands to cut down and trim trees. He had always considered it an accomplishment that he received his GED after high school, and he liked being active. However, despite consistently working since age 17 to provide for his family, he always felt like he was scraping by. That year, while working on an AC unit at his home, Gabe was electrocuted and sustained severe injuries. Besides being technically dead for a moment, he also lost a finger. The physical side effects permanently prevented him from returning to his job, and recovery would require months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Gabe (Left) working in the LCCTC Auto Lab

Luckily, along with physical therapy, Gabe was paired with an occupational therapist who worked with him to find new opportunities for employment. The Occupation Vocational Rehab Program connected Gabe to a Social Security benefit that would help him pay for post-secondary training in the area of his choice, and allow him to pivot to a career that aligned with his interests and abilities. Gabe had enjoyed working on cars since the age of 14, and he decided to attend the Automotive Technology Program at LCCTC to earn his Specialized Associates Degree.

In August of 2021, Gabe started his classes and credits instructor Brian Singer with his success in the program. “Brian made my experience was it was. Before I started I came in and spoke to him, He was knowledgeable, and a lot of the things he said spoke to me”. He found attending school as an adult was different than in High School. “I had more stake in the game than when I was younger, and I wanted to set an example for my kids.”

At the start of Gabe’s second year in the program, he was able to shadow a few days at an automotive dealership in Lancaster. That opportunity led to a job offer, and Gabe was able to work there part-time until he received his degree. Following graduation, he had a full-time job waiting for him.

Gabe (left) working in the LCCTC Auto Lab

Working at the dealership helped solidify Gabe’s plan for the future, and helped him realize that he needed a position that would allow him to work on all kinds of cars, new and old, to gain experience. That goal led him to a shop in Manheim where he works on vehicles that offer more variety and hands-on expertise compared with the relatively new cars he worked with at the dealership. “Everyone where I work now has been there 30+ years, and I feel lucky to be there.”

Gabe’s five-year plan is to start his own business as a Roadside Rescue Mobile Mechanic. He has friends who have started their own businesses, and their success sparked a thought in his head inspired by a technician he follows on YouTube, who runs a mobile mechanic business in California. Gabe knows he needs to put in the time to hone his skills to make the next step. “This job gives me the experience I need to reach that goal.” As a roadside mechanic, you can never predict what you will be working on, so building a repertoire of experience will make Gabe successful when he decides to make the leap.

In the meantime, Gabe is enjoying his current position and is thankful for the journey that got him there. Gabe’s career shift has allowed him to dream about a future that was not possible before and allowed him to better provide for the future of his family and business. We can’t wait to see what Gabe does next!

There are still spots available in our Automotive Technology (AST) Program, starting August 28, 2023! If you want to learn more visit: lancasterctc.edu/programs/automotive-technology-ast/ or email jlopez@LancasterCTC.edu to learn more about the application process or schedule a visit to check out our programs in person.

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