West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College alumnus David Nash ‘92 (A.A.S., Automotive Technology) has built a solid career by recognizing what he is good at and what he is passionate about. Nash, who serves as the Cooperative Education and Structured Learning Experience Coordinator for Mercer County Technical Schools (MCTS), has followed a natural progression that these days is allowing him to make his mark by helping young people.
Nash counsels his students about what it takes to succeed. “Success is a formula with three ingredients – natural talent, interest and marketability,” he advises. It’s a formula he himself has followed.
As early as his freshman year at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Nash recognized that he would rather have his head under the hood of a car than his nose in a book. Even with two older brothers who had headed off to four-year colleges after high school, he believed he needed to go a different route.
“I knew I had a gift for fixing things,” he says, recalling a visit to his high school guidance counselor when he was 15. “Walking out of the counselor’s office, I felt relief. I am good at this [fixing things]. I am interested in this.”
The support of his dad, a union electrician, helped. “We are a family of trades people. They got it,” Nash said.
Mercer County Technical Schools (MCTS) offered an Automotive Technology program that was the right fit. So, during his senior year of high school, Nash spent his mornings at high school and his afternoons in MCTS’s auto repair shop.
“I dove into it and I did really well,” he recalls.
Still, Nash recognized the value of college, especially if he wanted to advance to a managerial level. MCCC’s Automotive Technology program offered exactly what he needed – 75 percent automotive and 25 percent academic.
“Mercer’s program has a required internship component. I worked part-time while going to school. That’s a win. You learn how to manage your time, how to deliver for your professor, and how to deliver for your employer,” he said.
Nash recalls his Mercer experience as "phenomenal." Even a required public speaking class proved highly useful. “It has paid dividends my whole career,” he maintains.
He compares college to having a quiver of arrows. “Mercer gave me the knowledge base and skills from which to draw. And the internship component gave me the real life experience and connections in the field."
By the time Nash graduated from MCCC, he had risen to an A level mechanic at Greenfield Dodge in Lawrenceville. And, by the age of 24, he was promoted to service manager and shop foreman at the dealership. “I had to earn the respect of guys who were older than me and had been doing the work longer,” he recalls. “I learned how to hire – and to fire.”