VU Student Marley Elder: Blazing Her Trail With a Need for Speed and a Drive to Inspire

VU Student Marley Elder: Blazing Her Trail With a Need for Speed and a Drive to Inspire

Marley Elder has always loved to work on cars.

October 25, 2021

By University Relations Student Journalist Josie Kidder

Since a young age, Vincennes University Automotive Technology and Collision Repair and Refinishing major Marley Elder has always loved to work on cars. She gets a rush from the roaring sounds of engines, the powerful smell of motor oil, and the twisting of a torque wrench.

Seeing the tread of the tires spinning on the ground going from 0 to 60 in a few seconds while reaching a speed of 200 miles per hour going around the race track is why she is pursuing a career in the automotive industry.

"Racing and going fast gives you a rush of adrenaline, and that’s what I love about this career. I want to learn how to make my own car that I can race. I was able to drive a drag car once, and that really pushed me into the direction of drag racing and working on cars.”

Elder, who is from Corydon, Indiana, has been a car fanatic since she was just a young girl. Whether it was fixing parts on cars with her dad or looking at a showcase of cars with her family, she always knew deep in her heart that she would be in a career that involved working on vehicles.

"I’ve always grown up around cars. My family and I have always gone to car shows together. My dad and I have worked on cars together ever since I was little. We started to work on a 1999 Jeep Wrangler Sport when I was a freshman in high school. That made me want to get into automotive, so I decided to start taking classes in high school at Prosser Career Education Center, which helped me get the credits to come here to VU.”

She said Vincennes University is one of the reasons she has grown into the person she is now. VU has widened the scope of possibilities for Elder in the automotive workforce, giving her the necessities she needs to have a successful career.

She says she has gotten enough scholarships and grants from VU to pay off all of her tuition.

"I chose VU because I got scholarships here, and my Prosser credits transferred over to my automotive degree here,” Elder says. "I had a choice to go straight into the workforce or transfer to another school, but I stayed because I like the teachers. I feel like I’m learning a lot compared to other schools. The community is great. I’ve made lots of friends here. It’s just a nice, quiet, friendly community.”

According to Elder, living on campus is a great way to make new friends, participate in campus events, and is ultimately a money saver. She says living on campus has given her many more opportunities than she would have if she were living off-campus.

"Living on campus has helped me because it allows me to make new friends, be closer to my campus, and lets me participate in events going on around campus. I also live two hours away, which would be expensive going back and forth from campus every day, so it also allows me to save money.”

Since automotive is a predominantly male area, Elder says she has mostly male friends. When sharing all her favorite memories at VU, she implied that the group of friends she has made is a deep-rooted friendship that will last for years to come.

"My favorite memory at VU is when my friends and I would run cars on the dyno in the shop, and afterward, we’d go bowling, eat food, and hang out. I enjoy doing other things as well such as drawing and painting. I was thinking about getting a degree in art because it would seem like an awesome career, but it’s more of a hobby for me. Whereas going fast, riding dirtbikes, and working on cars is more of a passion.”

Elder is challenging the stereotype that the automotive industry is a male-dominated field. She wants to show women they have many opportunities in front of them, and they just have to reach out and grab them.

Speaking of showing women they can do great things in a male-dominated industry, Elder was elected president of the Automotive Technology Club at VU. She takes on duties like organizing events, delegating tasks, and making sure everything meets their deadlines. She says, besides those things, her main focus is that everyone has a great time being a part of the club.

"Being president of this club is a big responsibility, but it’s also like managing one big family! We are all friends, and we all understand what needs to get done. I have made many lifelong friendships that I would have never had if I wasn’t a part of this club, and I’m very thankful for them and them wanting me to be their president,” Elder says.

Classes can be tough, especially for students who take specific courses that emulate what they will be doing as a career. Luckily, VU faculty and staff provide the imperative resources students need to succeed in the real world. When she graduates with both of her associate degrees in the spring of 2022, she plans on working at Gear Off-Road.

"My collision repair instructor, Roger Kiser, has helped me a lot by teaching me what’s going to happen in the real world. He has experience working in the shop, so instead of lecturing us as students, he teaches us as if we were in a real shop which is very helpful. My automotive professor, James Marsh, is a good teacher as well. He is always there if I have any questions, and he has also taught me a lot about drag racing which is what I want to get into at some point.”

Elder says her dream is to build and race cars. She would love to construct her own vehicle to go drag racing or race in Nascar. One day she hopes to own her dream car, a silver 1975 Camaro Z28 with black racing stripes.

Her devotion and commitment to her future plans will hopefully lead her to operating her own car shop, and being both underneath the hood and behind the wheel of her dream car.

VU offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates in a variety of in-demand Automotive Industry careers.