Class of 2023: John Simon - Mechatronics

May 12, 2023
John Simon

John Simon went back to school to set an example for his children.

“My kids are the biggest reason I wanted to do this,” he said. “I wanted to prove you can always accomplish what you set your mind to.” He has three children, ages 14, 13 and 2.

At 35, John is graduating with an Associate in Applied Science in Mechatronics, [I’m not sure of the correct name of the degree], also called Industrial Maintenance.

He has always loved hands-on work. “I started doing mechanic work with family members when I was 5 or 6 years old,” he said. “I believe that as long as a child has the will and the interest, let them help you.”

John lives out that belief. Recently, his 13-year-old son changed the plugs and wires in the boy’s grandmother’s car. “He did just what I used to do,” said John. “He took the parts from me and said, ‘No, I’ve got this.’ It’s one of the proudest moments I’ve had with him.”

In addition to being a dad, John is also proud of his military service. He served in the Army National Guard for nine years, 2005 to 2014. He first worked in human resources in the military and then became a heavy- and light-wheel diesel mechanic.

In 2019, John decided to go back to school and chose Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. “I told myself, ‘This is the year I’m going to make a change,’” he said. He first enrolled in criminal justice classes, then switched to mechatronics at the end of 2020. “I realized I could make good money in mechatronics,” he said.

While he was in school, he worked a full-time evening shift at Rehau in Cullman. “What I learn in class, I actually use at work,” he said.

John also taught mechatronics boot camps for the WSCC Center for Career and Workforce Development during the fall and summer semesters in 2022. For the spring 2023 semester, he worked as a lab assistant in the mechatronics department.

He doesn’t mind the hectic pace of working full-time, going to school full-time and working as a lab assistant, because he’s a living example for his children. “I want to prove to my kids that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can accomplish anything as long as you put your mind to it and are willing to work hard,” he said.

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