Iris Litterio’s journey at Great Bay Community College was long and winding – and led directly to success in her life and career.
Litterio is a Human Resource Coordinator for Colwen Hotels, a hospitality group that manages a range of high-quality hotels in the Northeast. It is one of the largest owners and operators of multiple brands in the region, with more than 1,100 employees.
Litterio’s professional trajectory started at Great Bay in 2008 as the college was transitioning to its current home in Portsmouth at the Pease Tradeport. She completed her Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2020, and has since earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Granite State College.
“I was a student for a long time. I took my time. I started as a part-time student and would take one or two classes as a time,” said Litterio, who lives in Dover with her husband and daughter. “As I was able to change my schedule, I went full time and finished up.”
Litterio switched majors several times, almost completing one degree before pursing another field of study – and then another. She began as a liberal arts major, then decided she wanted to be a nurse. “I barely passed, and I realized nursing wasn’t my passion. But I enjoyed working with children, so I switched to early-childhood education,” she said.
With only a few classes to go to graduate, she started over again. She switched to business administration and graduated with honors many years after she enrolled.
She loved it all, and she attributes the range of her academic experiences as a process of self-discovery that allowed her to find her true passions. While taking classes at Great Bay in 2015, she began Village of Hope Seacoast, a community nonprofit organization that provides Christmas celebrations and fills other year-round needs for families in New Hampshire and Maine. Village of Hope helped 67 families during its first year and nearly 700 during its busiest.
“It was at Great Bay that I realized I had a passion for children, teaching, and business. I like being good at things, and when I realized how good I was at coordination with my work at Village of Hope, I was inspired to pursue the degree in business,” she said.
After finishing up at Great Bay, Litterio transferred to Granite State for her bachelor’s degree. That led to her being hired at Colwen as human resources intern in May 2022, and she was promoted to the position of HR coordinator in September when she graduated from Granite State.
Today, she works in a career she loves and makes an impact in her community by coordinating the nonprofit organization she founded. Creative, energetic, and determined, she loves her career because it allows her to combine her business skills with her passion for people. “Being in human resources is about being able to work with many different people for a company that cares about its employees and makes sure it celebrates its employees at every level.”
She advises students to experiment and explore. “My biggest recommendation is to try different things. All the majors have electives as part of their course requirements. Take electives about things you don’t know anything about,” she said. “Trying new things helped me realize what I am good at and where my passions are.”
The most important thing she learned at Great Bay was how to be a good student. She understood what was expected of her, how to manage her time, and where she needed to improve to achieve her goals.
“Great Bay gave me the foundation to succeed as a student, which led to success in my life and career.”