Quang Nguyen knows the value of a General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) degree. In fact, he travelled half way around the world to enroll in ASEP.
The 25-year old Nguyen lives in Vietnam with his wife. Nguyen said he looked at the G.M. ASEP website and entered the zip code of Des Moines, where his uncle lives to see if there were any ASEP classes nearby. He found that Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) offers ASEP at its nearby Ankeny campus.
Nguyen talked with DMACC Automotive Technology Program Chair Jerry Burns and received a sponsorship from Willis Auto Campus.
Nguyen owns a small car shop in Vietnam called Luxury Auto Repair, which employs ten people.
"After I graduate, I'll go back home and work in my shop," said Nguyen. "I will be a certified technician. In fact, I will be the only certified G.M. technician in Vietnam because I'm the first to come to the States."
"Initially, no one wanted to sponsor me because they are looking for technicians to work at their dealerships once they graduate from ASEP," said Nguyen. "I told them upfront that I was heading back to Vietnam once I graduated."
McMurry said he, Willis and others discussed sponsoring Nguyen and decided it was the right thing to do.
"Quang is really good with electrical problems," said McMurry. "He probably knows as much about electricity as anybody here. We turned him loose on a wiring issue one day and three hours later he had it fixed."
Nguyen also speaks highly of the DMACC automotive instructors.
"The teachers here are friendly," said Nguyen. "Greg Seaman, Jerry Burns, Mark Ambrecht, Jeff Calkin and Randy Peters are great teachers who teach you what you need to know. I feel very prepared to work on vehicles. I've learned about technology, electronics, diagnosing problems and how to fix them, and how to use a service manual."
Nguyen, who earned a Computer Engineering Software degree from Hanoi University of Science and Technology before coming to the United States, said he easily adapted to English. He said six months before he left Vietnam, he started going on the internet and listening to the radio to learn English.
Vietnam is a small, densely populated country.
"It's very crowded," said Nguyen. "It's very rare to own a car in Vietnam. Maybe only one out of every 100 people own a car. It's just too expensive to own a car. It's considered a luxury. Most people use a moped or small bike."
Nguyen said his shop works on a lot of German cars such as Mercedes and BMW. But he said his favorite vehicle is a Cadillac.
Darcy Hoch, the Cadillac shop foreman at Willis Auto Campus, said Nguyen was always interested in Cadillac's.
"He had said there are few, if any, Cadillac dealers in Vietnam, so if there is a problem with a Cadillac, they have to ship the vehicle to China to get repaired and that is very expensive," said Hoch.
"My grandpa had a Cadillac and now so do I," said Nguyen. "I own a 2002 Cadillac Deville DTS here and a 2010 Cadillac Escalade SUV in Vietnam. Thanks to ASEP, I look forward to working on Cadillac's back in Vietnam."