April 22, 2021, CRESTON, Iowa—Southwestern Community College (SWCC) auto collision repair/refinish student Sergio Sandoval of Osceola was honored as a SWCC Tech Achiever during a ceremony held on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the college’s automotive department. The presentation happened during SWCC’s Pay it Forward Week, an annual event on campus that promotes kindness and giving.

Sandoval’s award included the gift of a complete career starter tool set and tool chest, including a Homak toolbox; 353 hand, air, and electric tools from Advance Auto; and Speedway Motors swag. In addition, Sandoval received a certificate from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence recognizing his ASE certification. The certificate included a handwritten note from Mike Coley, president of the ASE Education Foundation.

The SWCC Tech Achiever award was established through SWCC’s Education Foundation by Nile Cornelison, who attended SWCC (at that time known as Creston Junior College) from 1960-62. Cornelison started an automotive parts business in Creston and sold to auto enthusiasts across the Midwest. In 2014, he was elected to the SEMA Hall of Fame for his continuous training and hard work. It was 2015 when Nile sold his business and as he says, “moved into give-back mode.”

Sandoval was selected for this award by his instructors based on a number of key factors that have made him an exemplary student including attendance, grade point average, work ethic, tool care, and passion for the industry.

“Sergio is truly one of the most dedicated, humble, hard-working, and trustworthy students we’ve had in the automotive department,” stated Jeff Magneson, SWCC auto collision repair/refinish instructor. “This gift will assist in giving him an excellent start in the industry.”

Sandoval, who graduated from Clarke High School in May 2019, has been a student in the SWCC auto collision repair/refinish program since fall 2018, when he started taking classes as a high school senior. In June 2020, Sandoval earned his diploma in auto collision repair/refinish from SWCC. He will graduate at the end of this academic year earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in auto collision repair/refinish at the April 2021 commencement ceremony.

Sandoval was extremely appreciative of his award.

“To say I was ecstatic after being granted a toolbox packed with tools is a complete understatement,” Sandoval explained. It was quite possibly the best surprise of my life.”

Sandoval continued on to express his appreciation for the time and effort of Magneson, SWCC automotive repair technology instructor Jeff Sorensen, and Cornelison.

“More than the materialistic items, I truly appreciate the time and effort they all put into this to make it happen; I am very humbled and plan on paying it forward sometime as well,” Sandoval stated. “I look forward to beginning my career and SWCC made it a million times easier for me!”

This fall, Sandoval plans to continue taking classes at SWCC to earn his Associate of Applied Science degree in automotive repair technology as well. Magneson said, with these two degrees in-hand, Sandoval will be extremely well prepared for his career in the automotive industry.

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Pictured above (L to R): Nile Cornelison, SWCC Education Foundation donor; Jeff Magneson, SWCC auto collision repair/refinish instructor; Jeff Sorensen, SWCC automotive repair technology instructor; and Sergio Sandoval, SWCC 2021 Tech Achiever award recipient.