Student Spotlight: Sylvester Ikebude

Sylvester Ikebude
Sylvester Ikebude

GM ASEP major served 27 years in Nigerian Navy

Sylvester Ikebude, 50, is a sophomore in the General Motors Automotive Service Education Program (GM ASEP) at Dakota County Technical College. Originally from Ideato South, a Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State in Nigeria, Sylvester served 27 years in the Nigerian Navy, retiring in 2016 as a lieutenant commander. That same year, he moved to Minnesota to be with his family; his commitment to the navy of his country separated him from his wife and son for 15 years.

Sylvester Ikebude

Sylvester Ikebude

Engineering was Sylvester’s specialty in the Nigerian Navy, one of the largest navies on the African continent. He served aboard several ships, visiting ports in countries around the world, including Brazil and England. He spent two years in Naumburg and Aachen, training with the Bundeswehr, the unified armed forces of Germany. His engineering skills have helped him adapt to his new career path as an automotive technician. He understands how machines work.

“My time at DCTC has been very beneficial,” Sylvester said.

Sylvester is on track to graduate from DCTC in May 2020 with his Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Automotive Service. He belongs to Phi Theta Kappa and has received a number of scholarships, including a $750 Rhodes Family Endowment Scholarship and $250 DCTC Automotive Endowment Scholarship, both for fall semester 2019. He also received a Dakota Electric Association Scholarship.

“Sylvester is consistently a top scholarship candidate not just among his fellow GM ASEP students, but in comparison to all our applicants,” said Amy Eppen, DCTC Foundation development director.

Sylvester Ikebude gallery

More about Sylvester…

A 1987 graduate of Trinity Secondary School in Nigeria, Sylvester belongs to the Ibo Tribe (also spelled Igbo), one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. He speaks fluent Ibo and English—he grew up speaking English in school. He can also read, write and speak German.

While attending DCTC, Sylvester works 10–20 hours a week at Rosedale Chevrolet in Roseville, Minnesota. Working as an automotive tech while going to school is a requirement of the GM ASEP program. Sylvester has plans to continue working at Rosedale Chevy after graduating from DCTC and continuing his education at Metropolitan State University. His goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in transportation management and one day open his own automotive repair shop.

Sylvester’s wife, Felicia, is a nurse practitioner at Hennepin Healthcare. Felicia and Sylvester have two children. Their son, Emmanuel, 17, is a PSEO student at the University of Minnesota with plans to become a neurosurgeon. Their daughter’s name is Zoegrace and she’s 20 months old.

In his free time, Sylvester enjoys jogging; his typical distance is 10 miles, and he used to run marathons. He enjoys playing Scrabble and chess. He also serves as a nanny to his daughter, Zoegrace. Sylvester is looking forward to becoming a U.S. citizen in 2020. He and his family reside in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Faculty perspective…

“Sylvester Ikebude is one of the most interested and engaged students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. His thirst for knowledge about all things automotive knows no bounds. He is always at school early and willing to work hard every day. Sylvester has fascinating stories of his time spent in the Nigeria Navy—and he is always happy to share them. He is an outstanding student and an awesome person. My life has truly been enriched by Sylvester Ikebude!”
Tim McCluskey
GM ASEP Faculty
GM World Class Technician (WCT)
Dakota County Technical College
“Sylvester has been an outstanding student. His curiosity and good nature are infectious. Just an all-around joy to be around.”
Mark Hickman
GM ASEP Faculty
GM World Class Technician (WCT)
Dakota County Technical College
Mark Hickman, Sylvester Ikebude, Tim McCluskey

Mark Hickman, Sylvester Ikebude, Tim McCluskey

Sylvester Ikebude Q & A

Sylvester Ikebude

Sylvester Ikebude

What should every future automotive technician know?
Be honest and dedicated.

What is your favorite automaker?

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you like best about working on cars and trucks?
I like being able to repair my own vehicles.

What is the most challenging aspect of GM ASEP?
The curriculum is intensive and compacted.

What advice would you give students thinking about making automotive technician their career path?
The path of the automotive tech is profitable and self-fulfilling.

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


More about GM ASEP…

The outcome of a strong partnership between the college, General Motors and ACDelco, GM ASEP at DCTC trains highly skilled service technicians for GM dealers and ACDelco Professional Service Centers. GM ASEP labs are equipped with the latest GM technology, including vehicles, components, training aids and technical information. Trained to handle the GM computer-oriented product line, GM ASEP graduates are prepared to keep pace with future technology.

GM ASEP at DCTC is accredited by the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF). GM ASEP graduates work as service technicians at General Motors dealerships, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC, or at an ACDelco Professional Service Center.

Sylvester Ikebude 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Jogging and aerobics
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Great Wall of China
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Restarted the main engine of a frigate stalled for four days on the Atlantic high seas
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Rebuild the infrastructure of Ideato South 2) Create a $250 million endowed scholarship fund for underprivileged college students 3) Help build the automobile industry in Nigeria
  5. Top TV show you’re watching now: Programming on CNN
  6. Favorite TV show of all time:24
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Rebuild infrastructure of Ideato South
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Peregrine falcon
  9. Dream occupation: Nigerian naval officer
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Barack Obama
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: GM World Class Technician (WCT)
  12. Most important issues or problems facing humankind: 1) Foreign interference in the politics of countries 2) Terrorism 3) Climate change
Learn more about GM ASEP at DCTC by contacting:

Mark Hickman
GM ASEP Faculty

Timothy McCluskey
GM ASEP Faculty

Learn more about the DCTC Foundation by contacting:

Kim Shaff
Interim Executive Director of Foundation

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director