Joette Masters, an Automotive Technology student in the class of 2014 at Johnson College, has been awarded a $3,000 scholarship from the General Motors Women’s Retail Initiative Program. Masters was selected as one of six nationwide to receive this year’s honor.
Being a female in a non-traditional program is what helped Joette get noticed by a group of women who started out just like her and now own their own dealerships with the nation’s largest auto manufacturer.
Masters has always loved cars.
“Growing up my father was a mechanic, so I was always learning about it and always around it,” she said.
Masters’ father never owned his own auto mechanic shop, but always worked for one. At home, he also worked on vehicles.
“I was his little tool getter,” she said.
Masters was the middle child with an older sister and younger brother.
“My dad wanted my younger brother to be an auto mechanic,” she said.
However, it wasn’t long before he realized that she was the only one who took interest in his work.
“He didn’t treat me any different, he was excited for me,” Masters said of her father, who died when she was 15.
She knows that he would have been proud of where she is today.
Mark Kozemko ‘79 is Masters’ instructor in the Automotive Technology program.
“Joette is an exemplary student. She’s top in her class,” Kozemko said.
He loves Joette’s hard working attitude.
“She does what everyone else does and more,” he said.
Kozemko doesn’t see too many females in the automotive field. He estimates there are 100 males to one female.
“There’s not that many females out there and the ones that are out there are good,” he said. “Joette is no exception.”
Kozemko, who just started working at Johnson College in August of last year, has been working on building relationships with local businesses. Back in January, one of the many places he visited in person was SUN Buick GMC in Moosic where he met with the owner, Lori Guitson.
Guitson serves as the co-chair for the General Motors Women’s Retail Initiative Program, the same program that helped her buy the SUN Buick GMC dealership nearly 10 years ago. The timing of Kozemko’s visit was perfect. Guitson had flyers for the group’s scholarship program that honors women who want to stay and grow in the automotive field.
“We give out between $20-25,000 a year,” Guitson said. Over the past three years, The GM Women’s Retail Initiative has chosen up to six students nationwide to win scholarships. Guitson says each year hundreds of applications are received, which are then narrowed down to 20 finalists before the group choses the winners.
Kozemko took the flyers back to his shop where a fellow classmate quickly said to Joette, the only girl in the class, that she should go for it.
“Why not?” Joette said.
She submitted the application soon after. A few months passed before Masters got a call from Guitson telling her the news that she was one of six selected for a $3,o00 scholarship.
As part of the award, Masters received a trip to Detroit where she was presented the check from the group. She came in second place among the award winners. The trip gave Masters a chance to talk with both owners and technicians about her plans for the future.