Jason LaFond


Jason LaFond

Some students take a “gap year” between the end of high school and the start of college. In Jason LaFond’s case, this gap was closer to three decades – but it hasn’t stopped him from working hard to earn his Automotive Master Technician certificate.

Jason graduated from Gladstone Area High School in 1992. After graduating, he got married and worked as a certified nursing assistant for about a decade. Then, he moved into welding and manufacturing work.

Eventually, he found himself at a point where he didn’t have to work full-time to pay the bills. When he did, he decided to begin his higher education journey at Bay.

“I thought ‘better late than never – might as well go for it,’” Jason said.

After being away from school for about 30 years, Jason started studying at Bay in the fall 2021 semester. He opted to pursue an automotive certificate because of his long-standing interest in cars, noting he had some experience working on his own vehicles.

“I may not have done everything the right way, but at least I kept my cars running,” he said.

As a Bay student, Jason learned about auto brakes, electrical systems, engines, and more during his first few months.

“I’ve done most of this work on my own cars, but I’m learning the terminology to go with what I’m doing,” he said.

Jason also had to re-learn how to function as a student since he returned to the world of education.

“For me at my age, I’ve needed to get back into the school atmosphere,” he said.

Fortunately, he has received assistance from Bay’s staff and faculty – including Mike Gardner, his automotive instructor.

Right now, Jason is planning to earn his Automotive Master Technician certificate at the end of the winter 2023 semester. Then, he hopes to find a job in the automotive industry and learn even more about the field there.

“If all goes well and my health stays good, I’d like to open my own shop,” Jason said.

Jason encouraged anyone who happens to be in a situation like his own to give Bay College a try.

“I’d recommend it to anybody. Don’t worry about your age – go to Bay, get your certificate or diploma. Whatever you want to do, it’s never too late,” he said.