May 8, 2017

by Lisa Proulx

Students and employers alike praise relevant curriculum, ability to work in field and leadership programs as keys to success

PORTSMOUTH – Three hundred and thirty- nine students will be awarded an associate’s degree and/or certificate this week from Great Bay Community College.  Commencement exercises will take place at the College’s Portsmouth campus on Saturday, May 13.  For many graduates, Saturday’s ceremonies will mark the end of an academic career and the beginning of a professional working life.

And for many others, that working life has already begun. Soon after Tylor Heath marches in the procession on Saturday to collect his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, he’ll trade a cap and gown for a uniform and report to his shift down the street at Sig Sauer, where he works as a security guard.

Heath’s career goal is to work as a police officer in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts. He chose Great Bay for his educational path because the school presented the best opportunity for an affordable, results-oriented education that also allowed him to work in his field while working toward his degree. “I am paying for college on my own, and I am leaving Great Bay with something less than the equivalent of a car payment every month,” said Heath, who lives in Stratham.

In addition to his job at Sig Sauer, Heath is working as an intern at the Epping Police Department. The 120-hour internship is part of his Great Bay education. Heath participates in ride-alongs, documentation of calls, and handles paperwork. This affords him the opportunity to gain real life experience and skills to reach his future goals. “and, said Health, “do all the things police officers do.”

He appreciated his Great Bay education because the Criminal Justice professors were both educated and through experience, were able to address the issues facing today’s Criminal Justice field.  “From day one the tone was set” said Heath. The expectations were higher and appropriate professional behavior was modeled.  They treated him with respect and expected a high level of academic and professional behavior right out of the gate. “The higher standard provides us with an edge as we pursue our careers.” 

Information Systems Technology graduate Sam Richardson of Portsmouth worked throughout his college career, including for the past three months at Treeno Software in Portsmouth, where he works in his field as a designer.  “I had a job the entire time I was going to school, and I was definitely prepared going out of the gate. I was doing the same thing at work as I was learning in the classroom,” Richardson said.

Richardson studied at a much larger state university before coming to Great Bay. He found the small-school atmosphere of Great Bay far more appealing. “The professors at Great Bay are always open to answering questions about class or even life-related,” he said. At the large state school, “I never had that kind of relationships with the professors. When you are one of 300 students in a lecture hall, the closet you get is one of the TAs,” he said.

For Kristin Whitney, Program Director for Great Bay Community College’s Surgical Technology program, seeing her students become hired while still in the program is nothing new. Most of her students from this year’s class have been offered jobs by the hospitals where they spent their clinical rotation. “Among the graduates,” she said “three have accepted positions at Catholic Medical Center, Elliot Hospital and Holy Family Hospital and one is starting at Exeter Hospital.”

Frank DeFranco, Advanced Composite Manufacturing, Product Stream Manager at BAE Systems, has hired graduates from the colleges Advanced Composites Manufacturing program and extended offers to six students who complete the program this May. “The ACM program graduates from GBCC are prepared to hit the ground running and have adapted well to what they are taught. The leadership skills demonstrated by one hire in particular who after year is already applying for a team lead position, goes above and beyond what I normally see.”

Hospitality student Katti Mowers is also already employed in her field and has worked full time at the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce while attending GBCC.  On Saturday, she will receive an associate degree in hospitality and certificate in meeting and event planning.  She plans to continue on to Granite State College to receive her bachelor’s degree in marketing with a long term of goal of getting a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism.

“After I had enrolled in the hospitality programs, I became an active member of the hospitality club and I began to love going to class because I found my passion…..I was able to see and map out my future. I was able to build leadership, team playing and problem solving skills, all great skills that I have used and will continue use in my future career. I can’t thank this school, my peers, and my professors enough for helping me find the doors I needed to open.”

Commencement exercises for the 300 plus members of the Great Bay Community College class of 2017 will be taking place on Saturday, May 13.  To accommodate the increased number of participants, there will be two events, one at 10AM and another at 2PM both held in the College’s Student Success Center at the College’s Portsmouth campus on the Pease Tradeport.  Graduates of the following programs will attend the 10AM ceremony: Accounting, Advanced Composites Manufacturing, Biological Sciences, Biotechnology, Business Administration, Computer Technologies, Criminal Justice, Practical Data Science, Digital Media Communications, Early Childhood Education, Education, Engineering, English, Environmental Studies, Fine Arts, Hospitality Management, Information Systems Technology, Liberal Arts, Management, Marketing, Technical Studies and Welding. Graduates of the following programs will attend the 2PM ceremony: Health Information Technology, Massage Therapy, Medical Office Administrative Assistant, Nursing, Surgical Technology, Veterinary Technology and Veterinary Practice Management. The Speaker for the College’s 71st Commencement ceremony will be John T. Broderick, Jr.  Former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.