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SEMA Scholarship Winner David Arnouts Offers Advice for Students

  automotive scholarship, automotive scholarships 

Autoweek Associate Editor David Arnouts—recipient of the SEMA Memorial Scholarship in 2010—provides advice for students applying for scholarships and those who are just beginning a career in the automotive industry. 


Through the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund (SMSF), the association helps prepare the next generation of the automotive workforce for today's competitive market through financial assistance for students attending various universities, colleges, and/or vocational schools in the United States. In fact, the fund has yielded more than $1.5 million in scholarships since 1984.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2012 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund. The application, available online at, requires college transcripts and letters of recommendation.

SEMA's Education Institute (SEI) recently interviewed 2010 SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund recipient David Arnouts, who is currently working at Autoweek as associate editor. Arnouts shared some thoughts about what fuels his enthusiasm for motorsports and provided advice for students applying for scholarships and for those just beginning a career in the automotive industry.  

SEMA Education Institute (SEI): What publication do you work for?

David Arnouts:
Autoweek Media Group, Autoweek magazine and

SEI: Why did you choose to pursue a journalism career specific to the automotive industry? Was it because of your enthusiasm for motorsports? A family interest that inspired you?

David Arnouts: My passion for motorsports and the automotive culture has been with me since my early childhood. My dad would tell stories of his musclecar days. I always found cars to be a welcome distraction from my often more pressing "responsible" obligations and commitments. In light of that, once I was older, I took an automotive vocational class through my high school and kept the hobby as I started college. After the first two years of trying college for general education experience, I dropped out due to frustrations and overall distaste with school. My grades reflected that, despite getting A's in my English and writing courses. After a couple of years working, my passion for cars was still as strong as ever, and I started looking at how I could make a career out of that. Through many trials, frustrations and experiments, I decided that I wanted to pursue an automotive journalism career. I should have seen it years before, the stacks and stacks of car magazines, books and random publications that I collected over the years are a funny reminder that this has been a long time coming.

SEI: Do you plan to continue your higher education?

David Arnouts:
I am always continuing my education, however, not always through formal means. I subscribe to a few automotive publications that I respect and revere as high-quality. Through their work and information, I try to learn and grow in those areas and apply it to my circumstances. In regard to continuing a formal education, I would love to, in time. I will need to decide the proper courses and appropriate channels for me to continue my formal education, and I need to pay down my student loans a bit.

SEI: What advice would you give to a student applying for scholarships now?

David Arnouts: Apply early and apply often. I was blessed to receive a SEMA scholarship, and I am very proud of the recognition from such a highly respected and recognized organization. While I was a bit of a "late-bloomer" with respect to college, I learned the importance of passion in what you do. In regard to applying, tell your story, not what you think they want to hear. The people of SEMA are passionate and can recognize genuine passion when it is present. Be yourself and be proud of where you have come from, what you are doing and where you want to go.

SEI: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to pursue an education/career in the automotive industry?

David Arnouts:
Be flexible, patient and open to trying new things, even if those new things are in different areas. While you may not immediately recognize the value of a non-automotive course and how it applies to your automotive passions, it will eventually pay large dividends when you can learn to integrate previously unrelated ideas and thoughts into your goals. If you are given a task or assignment that you don't particularly enjoy, ask yourself, "How could this relate to something in the automotive world?" That helped me get through many painful courses and assignments. It also helped me be open to trying new things that I never would have previously considered, such as psychology, philosophy and physics.