Talon Rodgers was one of those kids who liked to take things apart and put them back together.

As a teen,  he worked alongside his father, a master technician. “I started by helping flip cars and worked my way up to my own projects. I learned the business really from the inside out,” he said.

Today, Rodgers is a second-year student at Tidewater Community College pursuing an associate degree in diesel marine technician. He was recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship from American Boat Yacht Council Foundation.

Professor Abe Arispe recommended Rodgers for the award, noting, “Talon is meticulous in everything he does and is a standout student. He’s not afraid to ask questions and wants to be sure he has each task down pat.”

Rodgers said he was stunned by the award and grateful, as he is paying out of pocket for the program.

Rodgers chose the diesel marine program because he wanted to take his career in a new direction. “The marine field is high skill and demand and there are plenty of jobs,” Rogers added. “I’m doing something I enjoy but also expanding my knowledge.”

Continuing his studies during the COVID-19 pandemic has been seamless for Rodgers. “The hands-on learning is my favorite part of the program, and I’ve missed that,” he said. “But even so, remote learning has been set up well. I’m learning the material and staying on track.”

Talon Rodgers at the Regional Automotive Center.

TCC’s diesel marine technician program is just one of many offered at the Regional Automotive Center, a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Chesapeake. It has nine classrooms and 15 instructional laboratories. Students are trained on the latest equipment at the forefront of industry trends.  

Rodgers credits Arispe with making the instruction enjoyable. “Mr. Arispe is the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Rogers said. “He’s attentive to his students, very knowledgeable, and the way he describes the process of things is very informative and helpful.”

Rodgers encourages others to follow his path. “I did a lot of research before selecting TCC and it’s one of the better programs around, and not only in Virginia.”

 In his free time, Rodgers can be found tinkering with his Kawasaki Mean Streak and taking rides in the country.  “It’s something you can do alone and get some air,” he said.

On returning to school in the fall, Rodgers encourages his peers to continue moving forward.  “Don’t be afraid to set your mind on your goals and push through. You hit obstacles all your life, and COVID is just one of them.”