STATELINE STRONG: Female Auto Mechanic Hopes to Inspire Next Generation of Workers

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From oil changes to transmission fixes, Polo native Kristin Stinnett can do it all.

“When I was really young, I always wanted to see how things worked,” she explained. “I was always that kid that took things apart to see what made them tick.”

Stinnett is a woman in what’s commonly considered a “man’s profession” — Auto Mechanics. After building up decades of experience, the Highland Community College alum is returning to campus as the college’s first female Auto Mechanics Instructor ever.

“I kind of got the bug for teaching down at SIU, and as soon as that happened, I automatically knew I wanted to come back to Highland. And I’m so grateful for that opportunity. It was like coming home again.”

Stinnett’s fascination with all things auto started when she was a young girl.

“My dad had a shop that we would work on family vehicles, our neighbors’ vehicles, just little stuff here and there,” she said. “And I would always end up in the shop with him, either underneath the car…to see what he’s doing. It was always a great curiousity to me from very young.”

As she began to grow into her career, Stinnett faced some doubt from her male counterparts. But those doubts, she says, are always quickly put to rest.

“I would rather somebody ask me questions, come up and talk to me, than have somebody just assume, ‘Oh she can’t do it’ and walk away,” she explained. “So once they start working with me, they see my work ethic, they see what I can do, and that I’m a team player instead of trying to dominate the field. They’re really usually good about it after that.”

Stinnett says she hopes her story can inspire women considering an auto mechanics career not to shy away from the opportunity.

“You have two hands, you have two eyes, you have a brain. Anybody who has those things has the potential of doing those things. And anything that they put their energy toward, no matter if its mechanics, or electricity or a plumber, or a nurse…they can do those things if they want to, if they have that desire.”

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