Over $235,000 Awarded in 2024 CREF Scholarships and Tool Grants to Diverse Group of Students

Hoffman Estates, Ill. (June 6, 2024) –

The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) is excited to announce that over $235,000 in 2024 scholarships and tool grants have been awarded to 90 collision repair students across the country, but the Foundation is happy to note that this year’s recipients look a little different than they have in the past – for the first time, over two-thirds of the students receiving a scholarship and/or tool grant are women and other minorities, demonstrating the industry’s forward movement toward a more diverse workforce.

“CREF is honored to recognize these outstanding students through the 2024 scholarships and tool grants, which were funded thanks to the generosity of our many industry partners,” said Melissa Marscin, Director of Operations and Administration for CREF. “We were thrilled to receive applications from a greater diversity of students than we’ve ever seen in the past, all of whom have demonstrated their commitment to pursuing their educations and becoming part of the collision industry. We hope these awards help contribute to their successful careers, strengthening the industry by bringing in new perspectives.”

Seven exemplary students were selected as the recipients of this year’s Adelmann Family Scholarships. Each winner will receive $10,000 toward tuition and/or education loans. Borne of a desire to amplify CREF’s efforts to help schools and students at a higher level, the scholarships were established in 2021 by retired industry veteran Tim Adelmann as a means of leaving a lasting legacy on the industry he loves.

The recipients of the 2024 Adelmann Family Scholarships and Tool Grants include:

  • Jay Anderson (South Central Technical College; North Mankato, MN)
  • Johnathan Brachfeld (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Royce Espinoza (Collin College Technical Campus; Allen, TX)
  • Fabiel Maldonado Velazquez (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Abraham Martinez (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Kristopher Ried (Aims Community College; Windsor, CO)
  • Ethan Styles (Southeast Technical College; Sioux Falls, SD)

3M funded over $40,000 in scholarships and tool grants to future collision repairers through two separate initiatives.

In its 12th year, the annual Hire Our Heroes program is a part of 3M’s ongoing efforts to provide military veterans with educational opportunities in the collision repair industry, and the grants are open to collision repair students who currently serve, or recently served, in the U.S. military. Since 3M began the Hire Our Heroes program in 2013, more than $1.2 million in scholarships and tool grants have been awarded to over 330 military veterans and their immediate family members pursuing a career in collision repair. Criteria to be considered for the Hire Our Heroes awards and grants include financial need, future plans and past academic achievement.

Hire Our Heroes Tool Grants, valued at $1,500 each, were awarded to the following 11 military veterans to help them further their collision careers:

  • Wesley Allin (Tennessee College of Applied Technology Chattanooga State; Chattanooga, TN)
  • Russell Carrington (Fayetteville Technical Community College; Fayetteville, NC)
  • Christopher Farnes (Coastal Carolina Community College; Jacksonville, NC)
  • Corey Finzen (Hawkeye Community College; Waterloo, IA)
  • Hilberto Hooks (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Brian Huguley (Coastal Carolina Community College; Jacksonville, NC)
  • Jesse Jenkins (Coastal Carolina Community College; Jacksonville, NC)
  • Izaac Ramos (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Kristopher Ried (Aims Community College; Windsor, CO)
  • Donald Russell (Sandhills Community College; Pinehurst, NC)
  • Winferd Vermillion (Collin College Technical Campus; Allen, TX)

Additionally, 3M awarded $2,500 CREF scholarships to the following ten students:

  • Fredi Bastida (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Tamara Fowlkes (Chattanooga State Community Technical College; Chattanooga, TN)
  • Hermilo Garcia (Collin College Technical Campus; Allen, TX)
  • Ahryus Griffin (GST Boces; Coopers Plains, NY)
  • Caden Long (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Dylan Maldonado (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Juan Carlos Mendoza (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Magaly Mora (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Diego Ramirez (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Keng Yang (Fresno City College; Fresno, CA)

To further its goal of driving the future of the collision industry by investing in women aspiring to work in collision repair, WIN revitalized its signature scholarship program in 2023, and in 2024, the organization partnered with CREF to administer and expand its reach. Thirty young ladies received support via a WIN Scholarship, with awards being granted in two tiers: Stars and Champions.

Eight “Stars” received tool kits, valued at $500 each:

  • Amanda Baker (Wake Tech Community College; Raleigh, NC)
  • Carolyn DesJardin (Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Henry/Carroll; Paris, TN)
  • Mattie Johnson (Southwest Wisconsin Technical College; Fennimore, WI)
  • Bailey Longstaff (Washburn Tech University; Topeka, KS)
  • Jazmyne Martinez (Warren Tech; Lakewood, CO)
  • Diamond Molina (Hillsborough Community College; Tampa, FL)
  • Kyla Sanders (Prosser Career and Education Center; New Albany, IN)
  • Madysen Smith (Dauphin County Technical School; Harrisburg, PA)

Ten additional “Stars” received $500 scholarships toward tuition costs:

  • Jamie Achenbaugh (Metropolitan Community College; Omaha, NE)
  • Victoria Alexander (Idaho State University; Pocatello, ID)
  • Esperanza Calderon (Career Center of Southern Illinois; Red Bud, IL)
  • Mikayla Hoth (Dunwoody College of Technology; Minneapolis, MN)
  • Bobbi Lockett (Chattanooga State Community College; Chattanooga, TN)
  • Magaly Mora (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Briana Onofre (Dunwoody College of Technology; Minneapolis, MN)
  • Keyla Orellana (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Cher Riopelle (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Samantha Rivera (Hudson Valley Community College; Troy, NY)

WIN awarded 12 “Champions” with $2,500 scholarships as well as a $500 tool kit:

  • Teisha Chambers (McFatter Technical College; Davie, FL)
  • Alicia Davis (Lincoln Technical College; Nashville, TN)
  • Tamara Fowlkes (Chattanooga State Community Technical College; Chattanooga, TN)
  • Autumn Harvey (Dennis Technical Education Center; Boise, ID)
  • Desirae Kane (Great Plains Technology Center; Lawton, OK)
  • Charlotte Lake (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)
  • Claudia Mandujano (Lincoln Technical College; Nashville, TN)
  • Izzy Povod (Pennsylvania College of Technology; Williamsport, PA)
  • Alexa Rogers (Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Henry/Carroll; Paris, TN)
  • Lauren Schmidt (Automotive Training Center; Exton, PA)
  • Mia Secrist (Northeast Community College; Norfolk, NE)
  • Krystal Vazquez (Collin College Technical Campus; Allen, TX)

The PPG Foundation generously funded more than $30,000 in scholarships and tool kits. Victoria Alexander (Idaho State University; Pocatello, ID) will receive a $750 PPG MVP Scholarship, and seven students with a special interest in the painting segment of the industry will each receive a $3,000 scholarship to help fund their education and ensure they have the opportunity to pursue a future career in the collision repair industry.

Recipients of PPG’s 2024 student scholarships include:

  • Danny Garces (Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; Lancaster, PA)
  • Jeremy Heley (North Dakota State College of Science; Wahpeton, ND)
  • Matthew Hensel (Iowa Central Community College; Fort Dodge, IA)
  • Mikayla Hoth (Dunwoody College of Technology; Minneapolis, MN)
  • Valentine Ondoa (Hennepin Technical College; Brooklyn Park, MN)
  • Kealand Polk (Wake Technical Community College; Raleigh, NC)
  • Miguel Zavala (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)

An additional three students received tool kits, valued at $3,000 each:

  • Cristian Cardenas (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Brent Kehoe (Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; Lancaster, PA)
  • Jawid Mohammadzai (Hudson Valley Community College; Troy, NY)

LKQ continued its efforts to support collision students by donating $10,000 toward scholarships and tool grants in 2024. Jacob Proenneke (Lincoln Technical College; Nashville, TN) received a $1,000 tool kit, while $2,000 tool kits were awarded to Jeremy McBride (Metropolitan Community College; Omaha, NE) and Evan Buyak (Oliver Wolcott Technical High School; Torrington, CT). The following five students received $1,000 LKQ scholarships:

  • Ahmad Alwan (University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College; Little Rock, AR)
  • Daniel Geir (North Dakota State College of Science; Wahpeton, ND)
  • Yael Ledezma (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Nicky Nigro (Cape Fear Community College; Wilmington, NC)
  • Nicholas Peters (Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES CTE Center; Ellicottville, NY)

Four outstanding students will benefit from JW Bagley Foundation Scholarships, a non-industry entity that supports CREF’s mission. The lucky recipients of these $2,500 scholarships were:

  • Arnulfo Aguilar (Warren Tech; Denver, CO)
  • Kaleb Buechler (Career Center of Southern Illinois; Red Bud, IL)
  • Michael Dunbar (Fayetteville Technical Community College; Fayetteville, NC)
  • Keyla Orellana (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)

Thanks to a generous donation from CCC, three lucky post-secondary students will receive a CCC Michael Salvatore Repair Technician Scholarship, valued at $3,000 each. CCC’s ongoing dedication to the industry helps ensure that these students and others have the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their goals. Recipients of CCC’s 2024 student scholarships include:

  • Abdullah Abdullah (Fayetteville Technical Community College; Fayetteville, NC)
  • Joshua Addis (Cape Fear Community College; Wilmington, NC)
  • Jose Rudecindo (Universal Technical Institute; Houston, TX)

Utilizing Erie Insurance’s $8,000 donation, CREF was able to award a $2,000 tool kit to Mark Shaw (Guilford Technical Community College; Jamestown, NC) in addition to three scholarships, valued at $2,000 each, which were awarded to the following students:

  • Benjamin Jia (Rosedale Technical College; Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Patriot Martin (Lincoln Technical College; Nashville, TN)
  • Dylan Stapleton (Tennessee College of Applied Technology; Knoxville, TN)

The Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, funded a $5,000 scholarship, which was awarded to Ariel Burns (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL).

Created to honor Lon Baudoux, I-CAR Development Manager who passed away in 2008, the Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship is funded primarily by I-CAR staff and instructors who worked with Baudoux, in recognition of the importance he placed on secondary and post-secondary collision repair students receiving a proper education. Scholarship funds are designed to help students finance their education. Recipients are selected based on academic excellence, as well as participation in outside activities, such as sports, clubs and volunteer work. The following two students were each awarded a $2,000 Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship:

  • Lane McVicker (Iowa Central Community College; Webster City, IA)
  • Keenan Winters (Lawson State Community College; Birmingham, AL)

AASP-IL funded $2,000 scholarships to assist with two students’ tuition costs:

  • Ariel Burns (Kennedy King College; Chicago, IL)
  • Julio Silva (College of Lake County; Grayslake, IL)

The Collision Repair Education Foundation Board of Trustees awarded $1,000 tool grants to the following two students:

  • Khalid El Mjabber (Collin College Technical Campus; Allen, TX)
  • Ethan Mason (Indian Capital Technology Center; Muskogee, OK)

Through the Sulkala Family Scholarship, Matthew Hodgkiss (Washburn Tech; Topeka, KS) received a $1,000 tool kit. Administered by the Foundation, the Sulkala Family Scholarship was created to honor the 50-year career and legacy of Chuck Sulkala, founder and executive director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC), who retired in 2018.

The second annual Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship, valued at $1,000, was awarded to Sydney Beamis (North Idaho College; Coeur d’Alene, ID). Established in December 2022, the Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship honors the memory and long-lasting legacy of Jeff Silver, a respected trailblazer and leader in industry repair standards. During his tenure with I-CAR, Jeff’s concern with the lack of workers entering the skilled trades led to the establishing of the Foundation in 1991 in an effort to attract young people to the collision repair industry and to support the training institutions providing their educations. Due to Jeff’s love for the collision industry and his dedication to ensuring that the next generation would enjoy the same opportunities within the field, the Silver family believes the “Jeff Silver Memorial Scholarship,” designed to help remove financial barriers for students studying collision repair, is the perfect way to continue the legacy he left behind.

Over one-third of this year’s scholarship and tool grant recipients identify as female, while nearly half of the recipients self-reported a race other than Caucasian. A quarter of the students who received support in 2024 listed their race as Hispanic or Latino. The diversity seen among this year’s applicants can largely be attributed to the Foundation’s collaboration with the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) to administer its annual scholarships.

Secondary and post-secondary collision repair education students were eligible for these awards, which provide students with financial support to enable them to continue their education and prepare them for a successful career in body shops around the country.

Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can Contact Us to learn about the many ways to get involved. Monetary donations can be made online.

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The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting collision repair educational programs, schools, and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit us online at: www.CollisionRepairEducationFoundation.org.

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If you would like more information about this topic or any of CREF’s initiatives, please email info@ed-foundation.org.

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