%> Print this page

Annual Graduation Ceremony Recognizes the Youth Automotive Training Center’s Class of 2018

During the 39th Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) graduation ceremony, 28 students took a major step toward becoming self-sufficient, productive citizens as a crowd of more than 350 family members, guests and community leaders celebrated their noteworthy accomplishments. 

Download high resolution photos with captions from the Youth Automotive Training Center graduation

Automotive legend and JM Family Enterprises founder Jim Moran established YATC in 1984 to give disadvantaged youth a second chance at a better future. The young men and women of this latest class, who received their diplomas at the JM Family Enterprises Aviation Facility, join the nearly 700 alumni who are continuing on their paths toward success.

“YATC has given me the skills I will need to not only fix a car, but skills and knowledge I can apply to all aspects of my life,” said graduate Amari Mack, who received an award in recognition of his perfect attendance. “It takes teamwork and the support of others to get through the difficult times. As I take a moment to look around the room, I want to thank everyone at the YATC for their support and encouragement during these last nine months.”

Jim Moran’s vision for YATC’s nine-month program was based on the belief that many troubled youth in the community can transform their lives through intensive instruction and hands-on training in automotive theory and technical skills. Equally valuable to the school’s mission is the emotional support provided by the caring staff — three of whom are YATC graduates themselves — and the educational and practical life skills they learn.

“Since Jim Moran opened its doors more than 30 years ago, the YATC has had a significant impact on the lives of its students and their families,” said Terry Routley executive director of YATC. “Tonight 28 young men and women will begin the journey into their new lives knowing that we will continue to provide them with the support they need to persevere, and that the YATC is an extension of the family and friends that have supported them from the beginning.” 

Guided by YATC staff and volunteer tutors from the community, 13 of this year’s graduates earned their high school diploma. During the commencement ceremony, 15 graduates were awarded scholarships for continuing education, six of whom received special recognition for notable achievements. 

Ronald Kalasunas, 21, received the Bruce Rossmeyer Memorial Kick Start Scholarship Award. Established in 2009 by Jan Moran in memory of Bruce Rossmeyer, this recognition includes a full tuition scholarship to attend a technical/vocational school. Rossmeyer, founder of Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson and Daytona Toyota, was a devoted friend and generous supporter of YATC. Jan Moran presented Ronald with this prestigious award. 
Other standout award recipients include:

Wilford Morgan, 20 was presented with the Jump Start Award for excellence in automotive knowledge and repairs.
Mario Claudio, 22, was honored with the Turnabout Award for making significant changes in all areas of his life.
Jessie McKee, 17; Amari Mack, 18 and Michael Padin, 21 all received Outstanding Attendance Awards for demonstrating exceptional commitment.

In addition to highlighting student achievements, YATC also recognized Bishop Anthony Pelt, founding senior pastor of Radiant Living Worship Center, during the ceremony. Pelt received the Jim Moran Award, which is presented annually to a person or group who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to YATC’s program and students. Pelt has given generously of his time and resources to the program for the past 10 years.

In attendance to help distribute the certificates of completion to the graduates were former Miami Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton and retired professional tennis player Duby Petrovich. 

Students are referred to Youth Automotive Training Center in a variety of ways, including through the departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, as well as by past YATC graduates, local clergy and word of mouth. Many of these young people have experienced poverty, crime, abuse and addiction even before reaching their teen years. There is no cost to the students who attend YATC as the program is funded solely by generous donors and by the Jim Moran Classic Golf Tournament, which is scheduled for Nov. 9 – 10, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.
About the Youth Automotive Training Center

Established by Jim Moran in 1984, the mission of the Youth Automotive Training Center is to train and educate at-risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness and life management skills. The goal of this program is to prepare young adults who are at a disadvantage in their lives to become self-sufficient, productive, law-abiding citizens. Students are referred to YATC in a variety of ways, including through the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, as well as YATC graduates, local clergy and word of mouth. For more information about the Youth Automotive Training Center visit www.yatc.org or call 954-428-0909. YATC is located at 399 S.W. Third Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla.