When Nicholas Lower wants to learn something new, he has three primary sources for gathering information – those who are experts in the area, articles he finds in magazines and online, and YouTube.

And while that may seem like a simplified way for learning complex things, Nicholas already has used this process to teach himself to play guitar, rebuild an engine, and hundreds of smaller tasks.

“If there’s something you want to know, I would say YouTube. The Internet can teach you anything.”

Nicholas and his family came to Abingdon from the Washington DC area when he was just 3. He started his education in the public schools, but was home schooled throughout middle and high school. His mother served as the teacher for him and his two brothers, making sure they completed their lessons and still had time for other activities.

“There’s a very large home school community here, so we’re just like public school kids in the sense that we have lots of friends and social interaction,” he said. “We had sports teams and hung out with friends and did all the other normal stuff kids do.”

Nicholas chose VHCC because it’s close to home and affordable. He’s pursuing a degree in General Studies and hopes, one day, to pursue a career in the automotive industry. Cars – particularly exotic high performance vehicles like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche – are his true passion. He’d be happiest working for a publication that writes reviews of exotic cars or if he owned a shop working on these vehicles. After VHCC, he’s considering transferring to a technical school with an automotive program.

For now, he’s learning about cars by working at Advance Auto in Abingdon. Many of his co-workers are skilled mechanics who are happy to share their knowledge. He’s currently rebuilding the motor in his Miata and often turns to them for advice. Fortunately, his parents loaned him a car to drive until he gets all the pieces back together.

He also has a work-study assignment in the VHCC Bookstore and works for Highlands Fellowship Student Ministries (HFSM) in Abingdon, where he oversees the music at Sunday and Wednesday services. And although he’s only been playing guitar for about 3 years and taught himself, he insists it isn’t that difficult to direct a band twice a week. He knows the way the songs should sound, he said, and the musicians in the band are receptive to his suggestions.

“It’s not hard, but it can be stressful,” he said. “I may not personally be a skilled drummer or vocalist for instance, but I can tell when something isn’t quite right. After making adjustments we go from there until the song sounds the way we want it.”

And if that seems like a lot of responsibility for someone who isn’t yet 19, Nicholas explains that he isn’t afraid of hard work and juggling numerous tasks. After all, how else will he ever afford a Ferrari 458?