Bogi Lateiner says her first car, a Volkswagen Beetle, was a "piece of junk" she was determined to fix. Instead of taking it to a repair garage, she became the second girl at her New Jersey high school to sign up for auto shop class. She even persuaded her teacher to make the Beetle a class project.
Lateiner discovered she loved working on cars; today, she owns 180 Degree Automotive, a repair shop in Phoenix. But when she graduated from high school in 1997, she says, no one encouraged her to pursue auto repair as a career.
"I didn't think it was an option," she told Fixed Ops Journal. "Going to a four-year college was what you did."
So she attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where she earned a dual degree in law and society and women's studies. Yet she says she grew "burnt out on academia" and missed working with her hands, as she had in shop class.
"I enjoyed the satisfaction of fixing something broken and seeing it drive down the road," she recalls.
Lateiner enrolled in an auto tech program on Universal Technical Institute's campus in suburban Phoenix. She later graduated from tech training programs operated by Ford and BMW, and was a service technician for a BMW dealership. She became a master tech certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
Two of the three techs at 180 Degree Automotive, including Lateiner, are women. They remain the exceptions.