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Senior Spotlight: CAHS Braylon Lee’s Future Filled With Dreams of Cars (and Buses)

student dressed in black standing in front of brick building

May 29, 2024 – Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) senior Braylon Lee always knew his future involved automobiles, particularly repairing them.

Lee recalls a childhood filled with memories of resolving car issues and carrying tools. At sophomore year’s end, he decided to pursue the Fort Hayes auto collision program his junior year.

“It is a blessing to know exactly what you want to do and enjoy it,” Lee said.

When Lee graduates on May 31, he will possess a CAHS high school diploma, a Fort Hayes Career Center auto collision program certificate, a Central Ohio Transit Authority Vehicle Maintenance Pre-Apprenticeship program certificate, and numerous auto industry certifications.

Joining the program at Fort Hayes cemented his passion for car repair.

“It was an eye-opener for me,” Lee said. “I got into the body shop and started seeing different things and just fell in love with it.”

Lee earned five automotive certifications while at Fort Hayes. They  include the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) structural technician certification, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) student certification in non-structural analysis and damage repair, ASE student certification in paint and refinishing, ASE student certification in structural analysis and damage repair, and ASE student certification in mechanical and electrical.

Fort Hayes also introduced the COTA pre-apprenticeship program to him during his senior year.  

His program participation required collaboration, support from CAHS administrators and staff, and newfound discipline.

“We were trying to find ways to support him because he wouldn’t be here in the building,” Assistant Principal Aaron Moore said. “That brought a lot of challenges, but he stepped up and got all the work done that he had to do and we are very proud of him.”

Program participation required Lee to complete all his courses using the online APEX learning platform while attending Fort Hayes.

“The work was on me because there wasn’t really a teacher,” Lee said. “I had to decide to open the computer and do the work.”

Every other week, Lee rotated between his COTA internship and school. During his COTA weeks, Lee reported to work from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and worked a part-time job at a car wash.

“This required dedication through Fort Hayes, dedication through COTA, and a lot of dedication through the student,” said Dr. Drew Milligan, Lee’s guidance counselor at CAHS.

Lee continues to pursue even more automotive industry goals. He is currently studying for his commercial driving license. Once he acquires it, he will work at COTA as a coach cleaner, making $27 an hour. Coach cleaners clean and maintain COTA vehicles. 

Lee’s plans don’t end there, as he hopes to become a COTA mechanic.

“You don’t always have to go to college. There are other ways to succeed in life,” Lee said, adding that he sees himself as an example.

CAHS principal Dr. Darryl Sanders praised Lee’s determination, calling Lee “a gentleman and a scholar.” “Braylon epitomizes the CAHS motto,” said Dr. Sanders, adding the motto is “Excellence is the standard, not the exception.”

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic EngagementPortrait Attribute 1 - AdaptabilityPortrait Attribute 2 - CommunicationPortrait Attribute 3 - CreativityPortrait Attribute 4 - Critical ThinkingPortrait Attribute 5 - Global EmpathyPortrait Attribute 6 - Technology