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NWCC journey comes full circle for 1979 grad

NEW AIYANSH You just never know when a Northwest Community College (NWCC) graduate will really come in handy. That's exactly what happened to a group of visitors to the Nass Valley from NWCC for the recent Challenging the Paradigm 2012 gathering. The group took in an enriching day trip to the valley and the recently opened Nisga'a Museum in Laxgalts'ap but bus problems threatened to tarnish the day and delay the group's return for a conference-ending dinner and cultural dance presentation. Enter Helmer Grandison, owner/operator of Diversified Automotive & Towing since 2000 and a 1979 NWCC grad in Automotive pre-apprenticeship, now known as Automotive Service Technician Foundations. And as the name of his company suggests, through years of hands-on experience and further training, he has become a skilled journeyman mechanic. When the bus could not be started, it was Grandison that NWCC turned to. "I had to check out the electrical system on the bus," he said. "I'm quite familiar with this kind of bus, the engine and electrical system." He also readjusted the rear air brakes and in short order, Grandison had the bus running again, a small but significant payback of sorts for the role NWCC played in his life. "It was the first time I was away from home (New Aiyansh)," said Grandison of his experience at the Terrace Campus some three decades ago. "It was great, it was very fulfilling and I met a lot of new friends. It was an experience." After graduating, Grandison would spend the next 20 years working in the Nass Valley and in Prince Rupert gaining the experience he would need to go out on his own. And along the way, he's come back to NWCC too. The biggest change in auto mechanics since 1979 is the growth of computer systems in cars and Grandison has come back to NWCC to upgrade his computer analysis skills. He also returned to earn his air brake ticket and enrolled in a computer class to get some of the basic non-mechanic skills he'd need in his business. Grandison says there are very few mechanics in the Nass Valley and probably only one other onehis brotherwho has the expertise the visiting NWCC group required that day. He says the call was a surprise to him but it's all in a day's work for a mechanic in the Nass Valley. "In my normal day, I get calls late at night and early in the morning," said Grandison. "That's why I call myself Diversified (Automotive & Towing)." Thanks is also owed to others who helped that dayEarl Munroe, Director of Maintenance at New Aiyansh Village Government, and Leonard Moore and Graham Mackenzie. NWCC is a valuable community asset impacting the lives of students and our communities. Through its nine campuses, 500-plus employees and an annual injection of more than $30 million in the local economy, NWCC is an economic engine supporting the many communities that look to us to provide innovative programs and services.

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