Ulster BOCES means different things to different people. For James Schrowang, enrolling in the Port Ewen, NY, school’s auto collision technology program meant having a teacher who mentored him and provided him with the technical skills he needed to be successful in the industry.
Schrowang has been working on vehicles since he was a youngster.
“My father and family all worked on cars. I like to tinker, and I can turn a wrench,” he said.
He explained that he chose auto collision technology over automotive technology because he already had a working knowledge of engines.
The 2014 Kingston High School graduate said pursuing a technical education made sense for him.
“I was bad at math, so I went on the Ulster BOCES visitation tour in 10th grade," he said. "I felt that the career & technical center and the auto collision technology program were the right fit for me.”
He described feeling “edgy” about traditional learning techniques.
“I couldn’t sit still, and I didn’t see the point in reading about things I don’t care about,” he recalled.
In fact, Schrowang said he barely passed geometry in regular high school. But all that changed when he took math that was integrated into his auto collision curriculum. At Ulster BOCES, he started earning A’s.
At the career & technical center, he also perfected his mechanical skills, which gave him an advantage when he graduated and began attending Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC).
“There were a lot of kids who hadn’t picked up a wrench before, and a lot of them dropped out in the first month,” he said. “They had to start from the beginning with grinding, painting and metal-straightening, and I had all that under my belt before my first year in college. It gave me a huge edge over other people.”
Today, Schrowang is a collision repair specialist at Starr Collision & Body Shop in Saugerties, NY. He credits his former instructor, Dave Rosenberg, and the time he spent at Ulster BOCES with helping him land his rewarding job. It was Rosenberg, he said, who inspired him to enroll in the college’s automotive technical services-autobody repair program and to pursue an associate degree in occupational studies.