When the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) erased Destiny Potter’s student debt in 2017, it did not erase every challenge she’d face while pursuing a career in the collision repair industry.
But with the support of CREF, a solid education, devotion to the industry and some good old-fashioned determination, Potter is jumping every hurdle in her path, and gaining loads of experience along the way.
A mixture of factors sparked Potter’s interest in the collision repair industry.
At age 5, she helped her father with small repairs on his vehicles. They watched automotive TV shows together, and he helped her begin a Hot Wheels collection.
“When Dad passed away, I started to look up to my grandpa, who works at a GM plant, and my uncle, who owned his own shop for motorcycles, scooters and ATVs," Potter recalled. "Without my mom, though, I would have given up on my dreams. She’s always had my back and would never let me give up.
“Granted, I still never fully decided I wanted to be in this industry until about the end of middle school," Potter added. "I lost interest in my other hobbies, but my interest in cars never died. So, I decided that I would dedicate my high school years to automotive, design and business management classes.”
After high school, Potter attended the Lincoln College of Technology in Indianapolis, pursuing an associate degree in service management and an I-CAR certification. During her senior year in 2016, Potter became acquainted with CREF and met Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode when CREF awarded Potter a $2,000 Lon Baudoux Memorial Scholarship.
That fall, during her senior year, Potter drove more than two hours to Louisville, KY, where CREF was holding its board meeting.
“I felt the need to go and express my thanks to them for the bright doors that they had opened for me," Potter said. "Every bone in my body and every ounce of my heart told me that it was the right thing to do. All I could offer them was...