Tri-C auto tech student Destiny Hanzel follows her dream, no matter what anyone says
November 07, 2016
Destiny Hanzel has heard it all before.
She’s heard all the reasons why she can’t be an automotive technician. She isn’t big enough or strong enough to work on large vehicles. She’ll feel out of place working in a field that is still occupied nearly entirely by men.
She’s heard every word of it. And she doesn’t care – in fact, it makes her want to follow her dream all the more.
“A lot of people told me I couldn’t,” she said. “They’ll say ‘You’re a girl, how are you going to lift a big truck tire?’ I didn’t take it personally, but I viewed it as a challenge. I want to show people I can do it.”
The 18-year-old Valley City resident has been around cars since childhood. Her father, Bernie Hanzel, owns and operates an auto body shop in Medina County. Hanzel credits him as her primary source of inspiration.
“He’s given me so much support,” she said. “He’s the reason I am where I am.”
But even so, Hanzel hasn’t followed her dad’s career path exactly. As she progressed through high school, she became increasingly interested in what goes on under the hood. She didn’t just want to work in auto body repair – she wanted to repair the technologically-advanced, computer-driven engines that power today’s vehicles.
She spent her final two years of high school at the Medina County Career Center, enrolled in the automotive technology program.
“During my time there, I found out about all the great opportunities in the field, and I knew I wanted to get certified to work professionally,” she said. “I filled out a lot of scholarship applications, hoping to get into a good program.”
Hanzel found the right match at Cuyahoga Community College’s General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program, or ASEP. Successful graduates become GM-certified automotive technicians, and Hanzel is well on her way. During the current semester – her first in the program – she already secured an internship at the Medina Auto Mall.
“You find a way, and that’s how I’ve always looked at it,” she said. “If I need to lift one of those giant Cadillac Escalade tires that weigh as much as I do, I’ll find a way. I’m doing what I want to do, I’m following a dream I’ve had since I was little, so I’m not going to let something like that stand in my way.”
Hanzel doesn’t view herself as a trendsetter or a trailblazer, but she does have some advice for girls who want to enter male-dominated fields:
“Girls can do anything boys can do,” she said. “Just remember that. You might encounter people who want to discourage you, but you have to have the mindset that you can do what you want. Not just in automotive – it can be carpentry or construction or anything. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t.”