Lakeram Seriram is finishing up his first year in the two-year Toyota Technical Education Network (TTEN) program at Dunwoody College of Technology. As he reflects on the milestone in his college career Seriram says he’s thankful for the support of his family and the College’s Youth Career Awareness Program (YCAP) that prepared him for the rigors of higher education.
The mission of YCAP is to enhance the career opportunities of under-represented youth by empowering them to graduate from high school and obtain a degree from Dunwoody.
Seriram lived in Guyana before moving to the United States at three and a half years old. The 2014 Fridley High School graduate says he grew up observing his uncle, Motie Seriram, working on cars, which sparked his desire to pursue a career in the automotive industry.
During his search for the right college, Seriram and a friend attended one of Dunwoody’s open houses where he learned about the College’s small class sizes, emphasis on hands-on learning and how the YCAP program could help him pay for college and transition smoothly from a high school to college learning environment.
Since he is the first in his immediate family to attend college, Seriram thought YCAP would be a great option for him to explore the various aspects of technical education.
During the summer, YCAP students take college-level classes in the morning—like math, business, and physics—and in the afternoon hands-on technology classes in almost all of the technologies that Dunwoody offers. On Fridays, students visit companies to network with professionals in the fields they are interested in.
Seriram said during the summer months YCAP students get to know their instructors and other students—and it removes the “awkward stage” at the start of the school year.
“The YCAP summer program shows you what’s coming up in the future. You can’t slack off at Dunwoody. You have to do work here, I learned that my first semester,” he said. “I like the small classes. I don’t get drowned out by 60 other people, and the teachers are always listening and helping.”
“Lakeram is a shining example of a YCAP student fully utilizing the career and college-readiness resources the program aims to provide. He’s had perfect attendance and is actively engaged during YCAP events and activities,” said YCAP Program Manager Peggy Quam.
One of the YCAP activities Seriram participated in during the summer of 2014 was a tour of the Lexus of Wayzata dealership.
It was that dealership tour that solidified Seriram’s decision to enter the TTEN program. “I liked the environment. Sure, it’s a strict dealership, but I could tell that everybody was close and liked each other. They were joking around but still getting their work done,” he said.
Seriram said he was intrigued by the culture of the Lexus of Wayzata dealership so he applied for a job. He’s been working at Lexus of Wayzata since August 2014 and his formal internship starts in fall of 2015. “I get to see what I’ve learned at Dunwoody in the real world,” he said. “Each day at work is something different. One day I can be doing oil changes, the next day all tires. I like the thrill of things never being the same.”
Seriram said he hopes to have a long career at the Lexus dealership and maybe even open his own shop someday.