A TEENAGER from North Yorkshire has started her career in the Caribbean.

Jessica Rooke, who is from Tadcaster, has become the first-ever woman mechanic employed by a garage on the Caribbean island of Aruba.

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She landed the job with De Palm Tours on the island, which has a population of 108,166, just weeks after completing her light vehicle and maintenance repair course with York College and has just returned to the UK after spending seven months working at the popular holiday destination.

York Press: Jessica with her colleaguesJessica with her colleagues (Image: Supplied)

She had previously visited Aruba with a group of fellow college students for a fortnight-long work project, organised by Yorkshire-based, not-for-profit organisation Everything is Possible and co-funded by the UK Government’s Turing Scheme.

And, having achieved her significant gender landmark, Jessica was made to feel so welcome that she is hoping to travel back across the Atlantic Ocean sometime soon to resume her work on the island’s jeeps, buggies and buses.

York Press: Jessica enjoying the jobJessica enjoying the job (Image: Supplied)

Jessica said: “Originally, the plan was that I’d only be out there for four months, but I loved it and asked if I could extend my stay.

“I was the first-ever female mechanic at the garage and there’s always a fear that, being a girl in a male-dominated environment, you’re going to get comments and questioned, but everyone was so welcoming.

“They made me feel like part of a family and are like my big brothers now. I learned so much more than I ever thought I would from them.

“I’d never considered working abroad before. I’ve just been to a couple of European countries before and America once but, now, I’d love to go and live in Aruba – 100 per cent.

“I don’t think I’d go for the rest of my life, but I’d definitely like to spend four or five years out there. The people, weather and everything else is so nice and I feel like my time out there isn’t done yet. Moving back is a hard process, though, especially with us leaving the EU.”

York Press: Jessica is enjoying her time on the islandJessica is enjoying her time on the island (Image: Supplied)

Jessica’s duties in Aruba included servicing, changing tyres, fixing suspension issues and fitting bus windows – all invaluable experience, which she believes has further enhanced her professional knowledge and built on the skills she acquired during her college course.

“I was working on a lot of buses, jeeps and UTVs, like golf buggies.” she said.

“It was mainly tourists that were using them, so the jeeps and UTVs had been used off-road and there was a lot of suspension, wheel bearing and tyre work.

“I did a few days in the bodyshop as well and helped fit a bus window, which is completely different to what I’d done before. I was constantly mentored and you definitely learn more working alongside other people.

“I was seeing real-life problems and having to fix them. College creates faults for us to fix but, in Aruba, I was dealing with real faults.

“I came to college with no knowledge, but I relied on the basic understanding the course has given me in Aruba and now that knowledge has grown.”

York Press: Jessica at workJessica at work (Image: Supplied)