Jennifer LaFever, a graduate of Universal Technical Institute's Mooresville campus, NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech), grew up around grassroots racing and was inspired by her father's love of cars and motorsports. But as a mechanical engineer without any formal automotive technician training, she didn't know how to apply her knowledge to motorsports - until she attended NASCAR Tech.
Now, LaFever holds the title of Roush Yates Engines director of quality, and she's hoping to inspire other women to follow their dreams during the upcoming SEMA Businesswomen's Network (SBN) Gear-Up Girl Networking Event, hosted by NASCAR Tech. LaFever will serve as moderator of a roundtable discussion featuring other successful women working in the automotive and motorsports industries.
"I've always been excited to share my story and to encourage people to follow their passions," said LaFever. "I was very fortunate that my father always told me I could do anything I wanted to do, but not everyone has that kind of support. I want to be there to connect other women in the industry and help them find mentors."
LaFever says that during her years at Roush Yates Engines, she's been encouraged by the growing number of women working in motorsports. Her rise through the ranks to her current position is helping to continue breaking stereotypes, and she credits the women who came before her, and her education at NASCAR Tech.
"I have so much respect for the women who came before me in the racing industry," said LaFever. "There has to be a first to break those barriers. I want to encourage the professionals and students at Gear-Up Girl to change the status quo, to think about the other girls who will come after them, and to be the first if that's what in their minds and their hearts."
The SBN Gear-Up Girl Networking Event is happening September 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. at NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville. Admission is free but guests must R.S.V.P. online through Eventbrite.
"NASCAR Technical Institute is looking forward to hosting the Gear-Up Girl Networking Event," said Jennifer Bergeron, campus president at NASCAR Technical Institute. "Industry demand for trained automotive and diesel technicians continues to accelerate, and we're continuing to see growth in the number of female students enrolling at our campus. There are quality, good-paying jobs with potential for career growth just waiting for our graduates, and we're excited to be able to showcase those opportunities."
NASCAR Tech's Mooresville, N.C. campus offers the standard Universal Technical Institute core automotive training program, with an optional 15-week elective to train students preparing for a career in motorsports. The 15-week elective trains students in everything from engines, fabrication, and welding, to aerodynamics and pit crew essentials. Through NASCAR Tech's elite Spec Engine program, select students have the opportunity to build engines that will compete in NASCAR-sanctioned races.