Meet the MTECH 2024 Students of the Year


Mountainland Technical College awards Aleah Olson as the 2024 Student of the Year. Aleah has always wanted to be a part of the medical field. After researching possible healthcare professions, she knew being a surgical technologist and joining the Surgical Technology program would be a perfect fit.

“The biggest thing I have learned is not being scared to try something new. In this program, if you aren’t willing to try and fail then it is not going to work. I have also learned that it is okay to fail! I saw a quote once that said, ‘You only fail when you stop trying,’ and I think that describes what I have learned perfectly.”

Education has always been important to Aleah. Throughout her time at MTECH, her motivation has come from knowing that she is capable of great things and will be able to help patients.

Aleah is thrilled with the opportunities that await in her chosen career, and is looking forward to continually learning as much as she can in the field.

Aleah’s biggest inspirations are her two older sisters, one of whom is also an MTECH alumni. When not in class, you can find her traveling, watching a Disney movie, or dancing with her pre-professional dance team.


Luke Reynolds is a HVACR Technician student from Salem, Utah. He is highly motivated and believes in taking every opportunity to improve. His favorite part about studying at Mountainland has been the hands-on workshops and labs, which have allowed him to practice and learn different HVACR systems. Luke credits his family for inspiring him to join the HVACR program.

“Much of my family is in the HVAC world; my father and many of my uncles all own business throughout the state. I first went into the auto industry for a few years, but ultimately HVAC called me back because it’s a perfect blend of a trade,” Luke shares.

“It has some pretty awesome physics to understand refrigeration. You have to understand electrical deeply, engineering ductwork, and lots of different things to know within the trade.”

Luke is excited to continue his educational journey and attain a bachelor’s degree after completing his program. When he isn’t in class, you can find him spending time with his wife Addie, hunting, working on cars, or practicing archery.


Pamela Michelle Mejia Chavarria is a Practical Nursing student from El Salvador. Nursing has always been an aspiration of hers. With the opportunity to achieve her educational goals in a shorter period of time and get a kick start in her career, she knew that MTECH was the place for her.

Pamela shares, “The close interaction with instructors and classmates has been invaluable. Learning in smaller groups has fostered stronger connections and enhanced the learning experience.

Throughout her time in the LPN program, Pamela has learned that compassion, empathy, and critical thinking are crucial. Growing these skills have helped her build genuine connections with patients and make informed decisions in caregiving situations.

Following the LPN program, Pamela plans to pursue a BSN and eventually become a traveling nurse. She wants to explore diverse cultures and help make a difference by providing education and quality healthcare. She dreams of serving in her home country of El Salvador.

Pamela has a great support system, including her mother, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, and brother. Pamela and her sister immigrated to the United States in 2017 looking for opportunities to grow and receive an excellent education, and feels that she has done that. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watercolor painting, and reading.


Emily Loria is a Culinary Arts II graduate. Emily visited campus and immediately felt welcomed and appreciated the affordable tuition.

“Choosing culinary was easy! I’ve wanted to go to culinary school since I was 16,” Emily explained. “Unfortunately, when I was in high school, I lived in a very small town in Arizona and it did not have the resources nearby to help me realize my dreams. Because of this and other circumstances, I had to put my culinary school aspirations on the shelf for a bit.”

“Once my boys graduated high school, I knew it was time to make my dreams a reality. I was nervous to go back to school because I knew I would be the oldest student in my class, but I settled right into the MTECH environment and felt very comfortable in the culinary lab.”

Emily’s favorite part of the program has been working with classmates to create memorable fine dining experiences and events. She has gained event planning experience, menu building, recipe testing, and plating skills.

Emily shares, “I only wish I would have started my journey at MTECH sooner! It’s been nothing but a positive experience for me.”

Emily and her husband reside in Lehi and are the proud parents of their two sons, Josh and Ben. You can find Emily taking photos, hiking, baking, and knitting in her free time.


Karen Heaps is a part of the first-ever Software Quality Assurance cohort here at Mountianland. Karen chose the Software Quality Assurance program to assist in a career change.

“I love that classes are every day and in person. I think it has helped me grasp the concepts and progress quickly. In-person is good for me because it helps me feel motivated to show up, and I like being around people.”

Throughout her program, she has learned how to automate testing and experiment with industry-standard tools. Upon graduating, Karen is excited to pursue the software quality assurance field. She is excited to provide clients with excellent service and continually acquiring new knowledge.

Karen and her husband Jake have a daughter named Vera. She enjoys spending time with her Goldendoodle, watching movies, biking, and cooking.


Ramon is a Precision Machining (now Machining Technology) student from Rexburg, Idaho. Back in the day, Ramon would pass the Lehi campus during his daily commute while it was under construction. Seeing the building come to life inspired him to change careers and eventually become a student at Mountainland.

“I love that the course is hands-on. I don’t own a lathe or a mill and would never have the opportunity to work with these machines on my own,” said Ramon.

“There is a good portion of work that is done in the classroom, but that has also been very instructional. Without the program, I wouldn’t know where to start learning on my own. And everything in the course has been useful.”

Ramon is attentive, relaxed, and curious. He looks forward to expanding his skill set. In his free time, you can catch him learning to play guitar and experimenting with new recipes.

About Mountainland Technical College

Mountainland Technical College is home to world-class technical education with campuses throughout Utah’s Wasatch Range. As Utah’s largest technical college, serving more than 6,000 students annually across 42 industry-focused programs, Mountainland’s mission is to enhance the employability of individuals through market-driven career and technical education.

Published on: May 2, 2024 at 12:05pm MDT