May 4, 2023

Nick Mixon was skeptical when his father prodded him to attend an open house at Great Bay Community College. His father attended Great Bay and told his son that college was his best bet for a better future.

But Mixon knew better. Or so he thought.

“I figured, ‘I can make plenty of money without school,’ and ‘School is a scam.’ But I quickly learned that it’s not a scam,” said Mixon, who will graduate in May with an Associate in Arts for Chemistry and plans to enroll at the University of New Hampshire in the fall.

Long term, he’s got his sights set on a Ph.D.

“Since coming to Great Bay, I have learned all that a good education can offer and how it can change you as a person.”

He uses his own story as an example. Mixon, 24, was an average high school student in Massachusetts. He graduated with a GPA in the mid-2s and never believed in himself enough to see himself as a college student. After he enrolled, he felt like a phony and that he didn’t belong. “I felt like a fish out of water that was drowning,” he said. “I did not expect much of myself.”

He began believing in himself when his professors expressed their belief in him. They challenged him, and he met their challenge. Mixon, who lives in Rochester, expects to graduate this spring with 3.65 GPA. On the recommendation of his calculus professor, Scott Hewitt, he became and has served as an academic tutor in math and sciences.

“I am proof that there is hope,” he said.

Among the mentors Mixon names from Great Bay is Michael Gordon, professor of chemistry and program coordinator. During the open house that his father forced him to attend, Mixon peeled away from the others on the campus tour and made his way to the science wing.

“The first person I met was Dr. Gordon. I left the tour group and went to his room to ask about chemistry. Now I consider him a great friend and mentor. He is the man, and the greatest adviser I could ask for.”

His biochemistry Professor Deborah Audio is another. She helped Mixon land an internship last summer doing cell-maintenance related research work in a biotechnology lab at UNH-Manchester. He loved the experience, which he called “eye-opening. I never thought I would amount to much, so doing hands-on science work in a university lab was really cool.”

When he thinks about how far he has come and what his future holds, he is grateful for the opportunities that have come his way since he enrolled at Great Bay.

“We have a great team of educators here at Great Bay,” he said. “They’ve helped me change my life.”