Maa Efia Nyarkoa Ampiaw has always been interested in cars and decided she wanted to become a professional technician. The road to that career path has taken some time, but thanks to New Community and her hard work, she has achieved her goal.
Ampiaw first came to the United States from Ghana in August 2017. She moved to Newark with her grandfather and enrolled in New Community’s Adult Learning Center. After successfully completing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Levels 1 and 2 and the High School Equivalency (HSE) course, she enrolled in the Diesel Technician program at New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI), where she learned the skills necessary to become both a diesel and automotive technician.
She graduated from the program in March 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold on the area. Despite that challenge, Ampiaw began her job search and didn’t give up. Her persistence paid off. Staff at NCCTI helped arrange an interview with Bridgestone-Firestone and she was hired as an automotive technician at the Linden location in January 2021.
“Maa Efia is a very hardworking and determined young lady who epitomizes what New Community can provide through our organizational comprehensive services,” said NCCTI Director Rodney Brutton. “She earned her high school diploma through our Adult Learning Center, received excellent vocational skills training through our Diesel Technician program and was able to connect to a nice job opportunity with Bridgestone-Firestone Automotive Repair Center to start her career in the automotive and diesel industry.”
In her role, Ampiaw has a variety of responsibilities, including fixing tires and performing oil changes. She enjoys the work and the atmosphere at her job.
“If you don’t understand something, they are there to help and you learn more,” she said. “Everybody helps each other.”
Staff members at Bridgestone-Firestone are happy to have her on board.
“Maa has been a wonderful addition to our team here at Firestone in Linden, N.J. She has a terrific attitude which makes it easy to work with her,” said Store Manager Shane Allen. “Maa is dependable, punctual and very eager to learn, all attributes which will bring her success now and throughout her career in the automotive industry.”
The world of professional technicians is dominated by men, but that hasn’t stopped Ampiaw from pursuing her dream. She is the only female at her current job, but she hopes more women enter the field if they are passionate about it.
“Sometimes it’s tough because everywhere you look, there are guys,” she said. “I pray that it will change. When I was at NCCTI, there were four females. I had three in my class and one in the auto class.”
Ampiaw’s advice for others is for them to follow their dreams and work hard.
“Whatever you’re doing, give it 100 percent,” she said.
She has followed her own advice. Maureen Cooper was her instructor at the Adult Learning Center, teaching an all-inclusive HSE class, and knew Ampiaw could accomplish her goals.
“Maa Efia entered my classroom with a friendly smile and a whisper but by the end of the class session, she was a strong positive force,” Cooper said. “When she returned for the second session, she was on a mission; get her HSE Diploma, get a skill and get a good-paying job. It was never a question of if, just when.”
Brutton believes that this is the first step in what will be a successful career for Ampiaw, citing her work ethic and mechanical skills that she learned from NCCTI instructors John Zaccheus and Winston Thomas.
“The opportunity at Bridgestone-Firestone is just the beginning of Maa Efia’s long-term career in the automotive repair industry,” Brutton said. “She’s destined for greatness.”
Ampiaw is grateful for the education she received at both the Adult Learning Center and NCCTI. She also took advantage of New Community’s Financial Opportunity Center where Financial Coach Tamara Brown helped her set and achieve financial goals. Ampiaw recommends New Community programs and services to others.
“I really thank them for helping me achieve my dream,” she said. “And they’re still there for me no matter the circumstances.”
NCCTI is an accredited post-secondary career and technical institution that offers the following programs: Automotive Technician, Diesel Technician, Building Trades Specialist, Clinical Medical Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Community Healthcare Worker, Culinary Arts Specialist and Business and Computer Technologies. NCCTI also operates a comprehensive Financial Opportunity Center and Bridges to Career Opportunities Program sponsored by the local and national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) offices. For more information, call 973-824-6484, log onto newcommunitytech.edu or visit 274 South Orange Ave., Newark.
The Adult Learning Center serves students 16 and older and out of the school system with a comprehensive array of day, evening and Saturday educational programs in order to prepare them for a vocational or college education. For more information, call 973-558-5536 or visit newcommunity.org. The school is located at 563 Orange St., Newark, but classes are currently being conducted via Google Meet because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.