FAIRFIELD — Prisila Barroso, 17, first noticed her father working on cars from a young age.

“My father spent a lot of time with cars but he did other things as well,” the Bridgeport native said. “I have two sisters and as the middle one I felt that it would be good for my family and my father if he didn’t feel alone with all these things, so I became interested in cars.”

But now, it’s Barroso who’s teaching her father a thing or two about how cars work as she recently graduated from the arduous Jaguar Land Rover Academy in Mahwah, N.J., a program one has to be nominated for.

That comes with the added distinction of being the first woman to graduate from the program and also the first to be a technician at Fairfield Jaguar Land Rover.

“I’m used to it. Obviously there’s not many women and as the first to graduate it feels pretty awesome,” Barroso said when asked about what it’s like to be a male-dominated field. “Graduating from this program is not an everyday thing, it’s life-changing.”

Ted Orazietti, who has been in the automotive business for 26 years with two of those at Fairfield Jaguar Land Rover, said that he had known Barroso since her high-school days at Bullard-Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport, where she studied automotive shop.

“We interviewed her at school. She has a great personality — during interviews we watched them work, see what questions they make and I thought she would be a great fit,” Orazietti said.

Orazietti highlighted the intensity of the program.

“(Barroso) successfully completed over 50 courses with online tests, hands-on classroom and vehicle training. She also had to complete competency assessments in front of a team of instructors in System Driven Diagnostics, Principles of Electrics, Air Conditioning ... no small feat.”

During her experience at the nearly seven-month long apprenticeship that is split up into three phases, Barroso, like many times throughout her automotive learning, realized she was the only woman in the course.

“I felt like I was the first one, they were all surprised in the classroom and that’s true, there’s not that many women in the workspace,” Barroso said.

Ryan Ambrifi, owner of Jaguar Land Rover Fairfield, emphasized Barroso’s work ethic and cheerful personality.

“She is a bright spot in the shop and has a phenomenal attitude,” Ambrifi said. “She has the respect of all the guys in the shop and what she did is a big accomplishment.”

Barroso is still constantly learning about cars as new updates and technology is advanced.

“You learn something every day. We all teach each other and I’m still learning,” Barroso said. “The guys are like family.”

humberto.juarez@

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