Mattie Leyden’s passion for cars has driven her to a career helping others learn skills to find jobs after prison. For over a decade, she’s been repairing lives as well as vehicles.
While looking for a job as a mechanic, she instead found a vocational teacher position at California Correctional Institution.
The fact the job was inside a prison did not scare her because of the teaching aspect. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty while working in the shop, earning her the students’ respect. Leyden’s teaching style emphasizes more of the technician side of the job. She said being a mechanic is not just for the “big, greasy guy” anymore. She said it’s rewarding to see a student finally get a concept and continue on toward graduation. Also, she encourages anyone with a teachable job set to come forward and share it with people in prison.
Working for CDCR has offered Leyden a stable career with a lot of opportunities to pursue her other passions outside of work. She has enjoyed scuba diving with Great White sharks off of the Guadalupe Islands in Mexico and building an old Volkswagen bug from the ground up.
She has earned several scuba diving certifications with the hopes of becoming an instructor someday. Her philosophy is simple: people should work to have a life, not just to have a job.
For Mattie Leyden, repairing cars while helping turn around lives is all part of the job, and her life.