He barely graduated high school. High school, he said, “was a constant struggle academically,” and summer school classes were required to even receive his diploma. With pressure from all directions and zero desire to attend college, Johnathan Rodebush took $700 and his best friend to embark on an eye-opening road trip of the entire west coast. Little did he know then, one day he would boast three degrees, a successful automotive business and an unusual story of success.
“Rodey”, as he is called by those who know him, attributes his long-standing love of car repair to his dad’s stubbornness
“He was too stubborn to take them to a shop, so he fixed them himself and I got to do everything with him,” he said. Rodey was just 14 when his dad bought the first car he ever restored - a 1978 Fiat Spider with 550,000 miles on the original engine. Rodey remembered his neighbor remarking one day, as the driveway was routinely littered with project cars, “if you don’t work with cars for a living, you’ve missed your passion in life.”
Still unsure of his future plans, Rodey and his best friend drove from Canada to Mexico after high school graduation, couch surfing and meeting new people for a whole month. It was on this road trip that an epiphany occurred.
“At least thirty people I met told me to go to college. Even the homeless guy on Hollywood Boulevard mentioned it. I took that as a sign I should at least look into it,” he laughed.
Once home, his grandmother joined him on a visit to Metro Tech. He almost turned around and left, discouraged by his academic history. But Theresa Francisco happened to be walking down the hall, and his grandma enlisted her to apply the pressure.
“I will never forget when Theresa told me high school didn’t matter. She dropped everything she was doing to show us around and kept encouraging me,” he said.
Once enrolled in the Pro-Tech Auto Service program at Metro Tech with Mr. Sanchez, Rodey’s confidence continued to grow. And when he completed the program, earning an associate’s degree from OSU-Okmulgee, he enrolled at Oklahoma City Community College to finish the credits he needed to apply at Southern Nazarene University. His dad was recently retired from the Air Force and Rodey talked him into enrolling at SNU with him.
“We graduated with our bachelor’s degrees together. I thought I was done with school after that, but dad enrolled in a master’s degree program and I felt obligated to join him. So we’ve graduated together twice,” he said proudly.
Throughout his internships at Metro Tech and the jobs he took after graduation, Rodey always had one goal – to own an automotive shop. Seven months ago, his hard work paid off and he opened the doors to Rodey’s Automotive, located in Midwest City.
“I am passionate about what I do, so I work too much. But it’s worth it.”
Rodey's Auto Service is located at 7415 SE 15th Street in Midwest City and can be reached at (405) 455-7868.
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