Hoffman Estates, Ill. (July 10, 2021) –
When Isaiah McKie was 16 years old, he and his 17-year-old brother, Ezekiel, were struck by a car while crossing the street. Although McKie suffered only a sprained ankle and bruising, his brother took a more direct hit and was killed. McKie has been interested in auto body work since he “was really young, but my brother’s dream was to become a body technician, so his death really solidified my intent.”
Growing up, McKie enjoyed listening to his uncle’s stories about repairing expensive vehicles as a BMW body technician, and he was fascinated watching the restorations on “Gas Monkey Garage.” But he especially loved spending time with his brother, and after Ezekiel’s death, “I felt compelled to pursue my brother’s dream in his place,” McKie said.
A 2021 graduate of Lakewood High School, McKie recently received a $7,000 Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship, which will help finance his continued education in Collision Repair Technology. Created to honor I-CAR Development Manager Lon Baudoux, the scholarship is largely funded by I-CAR staff, and it is awarded through the Collision Repair Education Foundation.
“Receiving the Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship will make a difference in my life because I will be able to pay for my schooling without getting into debt,” McKie shared. “Winning the scholarship will help me complete my training in a career I love, as well as finish what my brother Ezekiel couldn’t since he passed away three years ago.”
When Warren Tech accepted McKie into their collision program for his senior year, it provided “an opportunity for me to spend half a day at my home high school and half in Warren Tech’s Auto Collision Technology program. I have learned to weld, pull dents, use a DA sander, repair fenders, R&I, and even work on polishing and detailing. We learned estimating, both on paper and on the computer, and had the opportunity to take I-CAR courses, allowing me to obtain my Pro-Level 1 certification,” he said.
Dent pulling and welding quickly became McKie’s favorite skills: “It takes a lot of patience. It’s been pretty cool to learn a skill that I didn’t know I could do just a year ago. My collision instructor said that I have a ‘feel for the metal’ and that my metal work was flawless.”
“Education is valued by my family,” McKie continued. “I greatly appreciate all the skills I’ve learned from Warren Tech, and I plan to continue improving my skills to make my brother proud – I know this is what he’d want for me. My experiences have taught me that life presents many challenges, but no one can take away your education.”
The Lon Baudoux Scholarship funds will financially assist McKie as he continues his education by pursuing an associate degree in Auto Collision Repair at Red Rocks Community College. “After I complete my second year of the program, I plan to work in an auto body shop where I can learn everything possible and work my way up. I realize that I’ll have to work hard to establish a name for myself, and I dream of becoming a respected A technician and being good enough to open my own shop someday.”
“Because of my brother’s death, I want to do what I can to keep people safe on the road. When someone brings in a car that needs to be fixed, I know how important it is to get the car back to its original condition to keep not only the driver and passengers safe, but also pedestrians,” McKie continued. “When I have my own shop, I’ll be able to help people who cannot afford body work. I want to have a well-respected business that gives back to the community.”
McKie’s charitable thoughts stem from a lifetime of community service. With his family, he has volunteered at church and the library, in addition to feeding the homeless and veterans through local food banks. He shared, “I have grown up in a Christian family that believes in volunteering and making the world a better place, and I plan on continuing this family tradition for the rest of my life.”
Serving as Warren Tech’s SkillsUSA secretary, McKie demonstrated his commitment to community service and leadership. “I like to consider myself a quiet leader, who leads by example,” he said.
McKie has a bright future in the collision repair industry and is positioned for great things. “I like the auto body repair industry because it’s fun and hands-on, and I know that I will be a body tech for a long time,” he said. “I look forward to what the future has for me in this industry.”
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting the Collision Repair Education Foundation’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs should contact Brandon Eckenrode, Director of Development, at 312-231-0258 or Brandon.Eckenrode@ed-foundation.org. Monetary donations can be made online.
The Collision Repair Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting collision repair educational programs, schools, and students to create qualified, entry-level employees and connect them with an array of career opportunities. For information on how to donate to programs supported by the Education Foundation, visit us online at: www.CollisionEducationFoundation.org.
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