As a young girl growing up in Ketchikan, A.J. Pierce enjoyed “turning wrenches and talking hot-rod shop” with her Coast Guardsman father. Over time, her interest in cars and auto mechanics became a passion. She completed the General Motors Automotive Service Excellency Program and an associates degree in automotive science in 2002.
Now, Pierce, 26, is the assistant service manager for a Toyota dealership in Hopkinsville, Ky.
She’s also one of three certified auto mechanics on the advisory panel for the www.AskPatty.com Web site that provides advice to women consumers on car care, safety and repair as well as buying and selling automobiles.
It was her AskPatty role that brought Pierce to our attention.
On Nov. 15, she’d posted an interesting essay on the site about her tomboyish early days, her interest in mechanics, and her pursuit of an mechanics education and career — during which she usually was the sole female of her peer group.
She wrote that the kids in her Ketchikan neighborhood were boys.
“When I played, it was with the boys, or no one at all,” Pierce wrote. “I learned to make bike ramps, create forts in the woods, fish, hunt and most all the other ‘boy’ things growing up.”
She mentioned attending a Catholic school for several years, but didn’t elaborate further about Ketchikan.
On Tuesday, an energetic-sounding Pierce responded to a Daily News inquiry.
It turns out Pierce attended Holy Name Catholic School until 1991 when she (who was known then as Amanda Foster) was in the fourth-grade.
Her parents are David Foster and Carol Rhodes Foster.
David was stationed at the Coast Guard base in Ketchikan for eight years or so until he was transferred and the family moved to North Carolina in 1991, said Pierce.
She still has family members who reside in Ketchikan, including her grandfather, Stan Rhodes; uncle and aunt, Danny Mestas and Christi Rhodes-Mestas, and aunt, Barbara Rhodes Brewer.
Although most of her time has been spent out East, she spent two years in the Anchorage area when her husband, Christian Pierce, was stationed at Fort Richardson.
Christian Pierce recently received his honorable discharge from the Army after his fourth tour of duty in Iraq in four years, said A.J. Pierce. He’s now enrolled in a pre-med program at Austin Peay State University in their current hometown of Clarksville, Tenn.
She said she’d like to return to the 49th state eventually.
“I definitely want to end up back in Alaska at some point before it’s all over,” she said.
Pierce sounds pleased with her present situation. She said she thoroughly enjoys her work, and has been on the AskPatty advisory panel for about four months now.
“It has been a blast,” she said.
The site gets lots of questions, mostly from women, and she usually can get the inquiries that come her way “squared away and answered in the first go-round,” Pierce said.
She’s also preparing an automotive seminar for women customers of the Toyota dealership at which she works.
Furthering her own education is a big goal, too. She completed a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix in July, and now is working toward an MBA in technology management from the same online university.
She also has a 4-year-old daughter. It’s a bit early to say whether the youngster will follow in her mother’s footsteps.
However, “whenever we get bored, we pull the tools out of the toolbox,” Pierce said.