Izzy Latham, at right, a May graduate of East Mississippi Community College’s Automotive Technology program, works on an electric motor during a class training session last year along with her classmate, Reggie Roberson.

May 30, 2024

Izzy Latham never knows from day to day what her next task as an auto mechanic may entail.

“I work on anything, from brake jobs to tearing a motor down,” Latham said.

In May, Latham graduated from EMCC with an associate degree in Automotive Technology. She plans on returning to EMCC in the fall to enroll in the Diesel Mechanics program.

“I would like to get as rounded an education as I can in the field,” she said.

Latham almost took another career track. A psychology major at Mississippi State University, she realized that the field was not one she wanted to pursue.

“I needed something I could do with my hands where I could be active,” Latham said.

She had always been interested in cars. Latham wasn’t sure she wanted to be a mechanic but she was interested enough in the possibility that she enrolled in the Automotive Technology program at EMCC.

“A month or two into the program I knew this was something I wanted to do,” she said.

She took to her studies with a passion, earning, in addition to her regular studies, 352 online auto repair certifications from Ford, GM and Hyundai, Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), AVI On Demand, and Snap-On, to name a few.

“Izzy is the type of student every instructor would like to have,” EMCC Automotive Technology/Diesel Mechanics Department Head Dale Henry said. “She made the most of her time in the program and worked hard daily to absorb as much knowledge as she could. We are proud of what she was able to accomplish during her two years here.”East Mississippi Community College alumna Izzy Latham, at right, with her mother, Molly Berch, during Latham’s May 10 graduation from the college’s Automotive Technology program.

That zeal earned Latham the title of “Outstanding Automotive Technology Student” of the year during EMCC’s annual Awards Day on the Golden Triangle campus last April. She is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

In May of 2023, she was among 20 students and instructors with EMCC’s Automotive Technology program to complete a training exercise on electric vehicles provided by AVI, an accredited ASE training provider.

“I really enjoyed my time at East Mississippi Community College,” Latham said. “The instructors are great. I learned a lot from them. Everybody is friendly and the staff are very helpful.”

Shortly after graduating from EMCC, Latham landed a job at Cox Automotive, which is located north of Columbus on Highway 45. She enjoys the work and has no long-range goals for now.

“At the moment, I am just learning everything I can about all systems, all different vehicles, whether they are foreign or domestic,” she said. “I don’t have any specialties that I am particularly interested in yet, with the exception of transmissions. Working on them is very tedious and detail oriented and I really enjoy that.”

When she isn’t working or attending school, Latham likes taking road trips in her 1997 GMC K1500, which she has put about 30,000 miles on in the last year. Raised by her grandparents, Latham was born in Hawaii and spent most of her youth in Germany where her grandfather, who served 22 years in the U.S. Navy, taught for the Department of Defense.

At 17, Latham moved to the states, settling in Starkville where she now resides.

“The South has always felt a lot more like home to me than anywhere else,” she said.