Leland Heflin “I tell my teachers, ‘Hi. I’m Leland, and I’m going to get an A in your class.’ Some chuckle, but it always happens.”

That face. It’s been photographed all over the world. “Modeling was just something I fell into when a New York agency saw my picture,” says Leland Heflin. “I’ve traveled through Asia, Europe and the U.S., and I’m very lucky because I’ve never had money in my life, but I’ve seen the world.” But these days you might find the former fashion model wearing some unusual make-up: a fine coating of 30-weight oil and axle grease.

“I started fixing cars because I couldn’t stand getting ripped off at garages,” says Leland, growling at the memories. “Then I became obsessed, and pretty soon I had cars lined up waiting for me to fix them. It’s my plan,” she continues, “to have my own garage, where the service I provide will be based on honesty.” And Leland reports that her plan is taking shape nicely in SMC’s Automotive department.

“I kept hearing from mechanics that this was the best place to study, and I’ve had really helpful instructors here,” says Leland. “I’ve noticed that the men seem to work harder when there’s a woman in the class, especially one getting all As,” she says with a laugh. “But cars are always a struggle. And just last night I wanted to quit my electrical class, but my teacher said, ‘No way, Heflin. Let’s get down to work.’ The faculty here just won’t let you give up.” And there’s no ‘quit’ in Leland when it comes to studying. “My books are always with me and I’m reading every moment I can,” she says. “Cars are very complicated systems these days. And I’m never going to let them get the best of me.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.