Both were the only women in their classes. The fact that most of their gender shies away from the field did little to damper the spirits of the two women. In fact, they embraced the idea of being unique.
“I’m always up for a challenge,” said Johnson. “Plus, it’s kind of fun showing up the boys.”
Johnson’s interest in mechanics developed while her family was living on a farm at Brandon, an unincorporated community in Perkins County.
“Dad was having problems with some of the farming equipment, so I decided to try to help him fix it,” Johnson said. “I realized I really liked working with tools and machinery.”
She chose MPCC to further her education because the college was close to home and offered a lot of one-on-one and hands-on instruction.
Carra Johnson, of Madrid, works on a car at MPCC. She graduated in 2016 with a degree in automotive technology.
“I didn’t expect to learn so much so quickly,” said Johnson. “I think the smaller class sizes had a lot to do with that.”
Unlike Johnson, Schaben never had much interest in working with vehicles until it came time to pick a college.
“I was planning to go to the University of Nebraska at Kearney for graphic design,” said Schaben. “But the school was too big and intimidating for me.”
Her boyfriend was enrolled in an auto body technology night class at MPCC at the time, and after tagging along one evening, Schaben decided the course looked like a lot of fun.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Schaben said. “At first, I didn’t think I could do any of the projects, but I found out I was wrong. I owe most of my success to my instructors. They helped me work on certain skills until I got them right.”
Her favorite part of the program was painting cars. She won the college’s hood decorating contest with a blue AC/DC design.
“I took a lot of art classes in high school,” said Schaben. “In the auto body technology program, I can still be creative - just in a different way.”