Andys Saravia-Ramirez likes to know how things work. Most people don’t have the slightest idea how an engine operates, but the Huntington High School Class of 2021 member can take one apart and put it back together again. Yes, he’s that good. The teenager’s mind thinks in a mechanical language that few can understand.
Mr. Saravia-Ramirez is this year’s recipient of the Howard H. Munson Memorial Scholarship Award, which honors one of the town’s legendary business figures.
The $5,000 Munson scholarship will help defray some of Mr. Saravia-Ramirez’s college expenses as he goes about pursuing a degree in automotive technology. The scholarship is administered by the Huntington Fire Department. Ex-Chief Neil Getter presented this year’s award during the senior scholarship night ceremony in the high school auditorium.
Mr. Saravia-Ramirez is determined to succeed and willing to work long hours to complete the tasks at hand, just like Mr. Munson was during a business career that spanned a remarkable seven decades.
The new Huntington alum plans to study at Suffolk County Community College, which boasts one of the best automotive technology programs of any school.
While Mr. Saravia-Ramirez never had an opportunity to meet Mr. Munson and probably doesn’t even know where his benefactor’s automotive shop was located on New York Avenue in the village, the businessman’s success and spectacular generosity will benefit the teenager as he moves into the college ranks and pursues his career goals.
Suffolk Community College’s automotive technology program is located at the Ammerman campus in Selden. “It is a NATEF certified program that is designed to prepare students for employment as automobile technicians and is intended for those who seek professional careers as employees of automotive service facilities,” according to an online overview. “Suffolk offers four separate automotive programs. All programs have academic classes, as well as automotive classes, in order to fulfill requirements to obtain an A.A.S. degree. The programs offered are the Honda PACT program, the Toyota T-TEN program, the General Motors ASEP program, and the General Automotive ATAC I & ATAC II programs.
Mr. Saravia-Ramirez simply loves cars. In fact, they fascinate him. “Today’s automobiles are equipped with complex computer and electronic systems,” according to a profile of the SCC program. “To succeed, technicians need to be highly trained, skilled professionals who are competent in math, science and computer technology. Communication and management skills are equally important for success in the field.”
Although Mr. Munson admitted that he never really enjoyed school, he knew it was important. So he did what needed to be done, graduating Port Washington High School and affixing his eyes squarely on the future. The scholarship award presented in his honor is made payable to the recipient’s college of choice.
Born June 28, 1908 to Frank and Dora Hill Munson, Howard didn’t like school very much. He liked being around cars and told his dad to forget about the new car he had been promised if he stuck it out and graduated, because he would rather use the money to study engineering at Pratt Institute, which he did, graduating in 1928. After Pratt, he went on to graduate from General Motors Tech.
Mr. Munson opened an auto repair shop in Huntington in 1930 and continued running it until the very day he passed away on October 22, 1999 at 91 years of age. During the almost 70 years he was in the auto repair business he served the local fire department, the rich and famous, the poor who could not pay, the local townsfolk and those who came from afar.
A telling episode in Mr. Munson’s life illustrated his character and the values he held dear. On a terribly cold and icy night, when there was a very bad fire in Huntington, he worked all night to keep a truck pumping and got it out of the way when the building started to collapse.
Over the years, his business continued to grow, largely due to the fact that Mr. Munson cared about his customers. He never once over charged nor cheated them in any way and while he got his hands dirty, he was noted for always wearing a necktie with his uniform and keeping the shop neat, clean and organized.
Just like Mr. Munson, Mr. Saravia-Ramirez’s work ethic is remarkable. He will do very well in life if he achieves just a fraction of the success that Mr. Munson did. Though he chose “blue collar” work, Mr. Munson died a very wealthy man.
This marks the 21st year the Howard N. Munson Scholarship Award has been presented to a Huntington senior.