Kimberly Night has traveled some unexpected roads, first bringing her to Canyon Country, then winding her way through an education at College of the Canyons, and finally, onto the college faculty.
Her field of expertise? Automotive Technology.
Night grew up in a small Northern California city, but moved to L.A. County for greater career opportunities and an abundance of activities. She and her husband, Christopher, decided to move to the Santa Clarita Valley for the schools. Their family, which includes two daughters, Victoria, 14, and Piper, 4, settled in Canyon Country for four years until recently purchasing a house in the San Fernando Valley.
Night decided the next part of her journey would be to expand her education, so she began considering what she wanted to study.
“I thought about the things I loved to do and what I found myself doing on a regular basis,” she said. “Being that there are no careers in buying shoes, working on and improving vehicles is my next biggest passion. So I vetted the schools offering automotive courses around the L.A. area.”
After sitting in on classes at each school she considered, Night chose College of the Canyons, and completed 60 percent of her general education requirements at the Canyon Country campus. It is where the automotive program is housed, so all of the core classes for that certificate are offered there. (She was awarded a pin, which she wore at her graduation, signifying that she took more than half of her classes on COC’s east campus.)
“I already knew quite a bit about vehicles, so I needed schooling to polish up my skills and help me with the more advanced skills required for modern vehicles,” she said. “I took the automotive and engineering courses, getting my degree in Automotive Technology MLR (Maintenance & Light Repair). I was the first female to complete the Associate of Arts degree in Automotive Technology at College of the Canyons.”
That wasn’t Night’s only “first.” While in her final semester of college, she was invited to do an internship at the Los Angeles Police Department. “I was excited to work LAPD garage, see how their shop ran and what opportunities may be available in the future,” she said. “The employees within the motor transport division of LAPD were amazing. … They had never had a female on the shop floor working before. So, my first day on the job was quite exciting for everyone.”
The office staff embraced the trailblazer, placing her name on one of the lockers in the women’s restroom.
“The sweet gesture made me feel welcome and like part of their team,” she said. “The office employees, along with the shop employees, were all waiting in anticipation to see if I would know what I was doing or if I would even do the task at hand. Of course, I did have the knowledge necessary and I did complete the job.”
It would not be the first workplace where Night would have to prove herself, but it was one of the friendliest. “Throughout my time there, no matter which facility I was at, it felt like home,” she said. “As big as the LAPD Motor Pool is, the employees within it are so inviting and pleasant to work with. I was genuinely excited and happy to go in each day to work with the employees at LAPD.”
With plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in the next couple of years, Night was thrilled to become a member of the COC faculty.
“Everyone at College of the Canyons is very forward-thinking and trying to stay in the forefront of their department’s area of focus,” she explained. “As I was finishing my degree, the faculty and staff at COC encouraged me to go for a position within the college.”
Night recently taught the Summer Institute Automotive course at the Canyon Country campus, which is a program that gives students going into grades 6-8 a chance to learn and experience what it is like inside various professions. In her automotive camp the young teens were able to work in the shop, just as adults would.
“My students assembled a working four-cylinder engine, which they took home,” Night said. “While these students do not yet drive, they learned about common roadside emergencies and how to properly respond to them.”
They constructed rolling vehicles from snack cakes, candy, crackers, marshmallows, etc. and held a competition to see whose car would roll the farthest. “The winning car was actually quite impressive,” Night said.
College of the Canyons’ Automotive Technology Department will expand its community education in the near future, according to Night. There is a course for women planned, as well as a course designed for teenagers as they become new drivers.
“This course will go over maintenance, handling, roadside emergencies, red flags and the like,” Night said.
Canyon Country residents, as well as other members of the community, can take advantage of the opportunities. And, of course, they’re likely to find Kimberly Night at the front of the class – at least some of the time – because College of the Canyons has learned that when trying something new, it’s smart to put someone on the job who knows the way.