Though Edgecombe Community College student Bobby Mitchell isn’t from the Twin Counties, he sought out the college’s Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology program to help him pursue his career goals.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mitchell landed in the Collision Repair and Refinishing program at ECC after high school and a tour of duty in the Army National Guard.
Mitchell says he’s always been fascinated with cars. “Collision repair and refinishing is like art to me. Damaged cars are resurrected to factory specifications. Technicians put countless hours into these vehicles to achieve perfection.
“Once a project is complete, after your hard work and dedication, it’s the ultimate feeling of accomplishment,” he explains.
Mitchell, 25, took part in a vocational program at his high school in Virginia Beach but didn’t get the training he wanted. “After taking collision repair and refinishing classes in high school, I started out working as a helper in some collision repair shops,” he says. While the experience was worthwhile, he says it didn’t give him the proper training he was looking for, and he knew he needed more education.
Following a tour in Afghanistan, he returned home to Virginia Beach and started looking for a collision repair program to help him reach his career goals. He was impressed with what he learned about the program at ECC, so he packed up and moved, leaving friends and family, to work toward a degree in Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology.
Along the way, he parlayed an internship at Michael Jordan Nissan in Durham as a paint prepper into a full-time technician job.
Mitchell says one of the best parts of the Collision Repair and Refinishing program at ECC is instructor Bud Speight, program chair. “He is very knowledgeable. His level of skill and experience is unimaginable. And if you’re willing to learn, he’s willing to teach you everything he knows.”
Mitchell highly recommends students looking for a good collision repair program to check out ECC. “With Bud Speight teaching you, you’ll be able to take your skills to the next level,” Mitchell assures.
In addition to working full time and maintaining a 3.74 GPA in his classes at ECC, Mitchell participated in a statewide Skills USA competition for Collison Repair and Refinishing Technology. He placed fifth in the state – impressive for his first time competing and the first time the college sent a competitor from this curriculum program.
Mitchell is taking his final class this spring and is scheduled to receive his degree in May. He says his experience at ECC has been great.
“I’d recommend the program to other students and I’d tell them, if you give 100 percent, anything is possible, especially with Bud Speight for a teacher.”