February 29, 2024

Stephanie Knapp is many things: mother, business owner, landlord. She’s also about to become a Great Bay Community College graduate. Knapp recently completed her associate degree in psychology at Great Bay and is continuing her education in pursuit of becoming a licensed mental health counselor specializing in postpartum social work.

“I enrolled at Great Bay in 2022 as a part time, non-traditional student. I just finished up and will participate in Commencement in the spring. I am working on my bachelor’s right now, and I hope to pursue my master’s. Go big or go home,” Knapp, 44, said of her scholarly ambition.

She is working on her bachelor’s degree at Southern New Hampshire University and hopes to finish up in 2025.

Her academic journey began traditionally. Like many of her peers, she enrolled in college after high school but left as a junior, choosing to travel and “immerse myself in a lot of places in the world and work on a lot of farms.” Along the way, she has also worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, specializing in farmer losses, as a midwife, and as a gardener on Nantucket.

“I have worn many hats, and I feel like I need to be in a constant state of learning. I stagnate very easily,” said Knapp, who lives in Rye. “And in addition to that, I am getting a little older and I cannot garden much longer. It’s a lot of work, and I needed an exit strategy. Great Bay made it very easy.”

Knapp knew about Great Bay, because she once worked for an accountant on Pease International Tradeport and often came to the café on campus to pick up lunch for the office. “Always in the back of my mind, I was logging Great Bay as a resource for the future when I was ready to resume my education,” she said.

When that time arrived in 2022, Knapp was able to transfer credits from years ago, identify core curriculum courses she needed to fulfill, and quickly begin pursuing her degree. “When I actually looked into it, Great Bay checked all the boxes,” she said. “It was a perfect fit.”

Knapp was comfortable as a non-traditional student, and she always felt accepted and welcomed in the classroom by both students and professors. Because of all those hats she wears, she appreciated the flexibility of her class schedule and the convenience of attending remotely when necessary.

As a student, she made professional connections and recently participated in a social work conference at Great Bay. She cited her success in the math course Quantitative Reasoning as a personal triumph and appreciated her professor’s ability to bring humor to the coursework, making it fun, accessible, and practical. “Believe me, math being funny was never the way I thought I would feel. Once I understood it, though, I actually enjoyed quadratic equations.”

She also enjoyed taking courses with Psychology Professor and Department Chair Dr. Aimee Huard, describing her as “a fantastic and a fascinating teacher. I have always found that people who can tell a delightful story, make their students laugh, and show an enormous capacity for compassion, are the most excellent teachers,” she said.

Most important, Knapp’s success at Great Bay made it possible to transition from her career as a gardener to one as a therapist helping families negotiate pregnancy and birth.

“I had a great experience at Great Bay. I am looking forward to Commencement in the spring and I am excited about my future.”