Jeff Mitchell '15

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Jeffrey Mitchell was at a crossroads professionally. He had been employed by a local manufacturing firm for 21 years, most recently as a Project Manager. Although his position was interesting, affording the ability to travel while providing excellent pay and benefits, he knew, it was time to do something different. “Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever you want” he said. “I just knew it was time for a change. The industry and type of work I eventually would be doing was changing. I saw this as opportunity to make a total transformation in my life direction.”

j-mitchell.jpgA lifelong interest in health care led him to focus on becoming a registered nurse. While researching educational options, Great Bay Community College kept coming up in conversations with friends who were already employed in healthcare. Mitchell then decided to meet with a counselor at the College to see what might be involved. “The idea of a two-year degree appealed to me on many levels. Compared to a four-year degree, it was affordable and would minimize the amount of time that I would need to be away from a full time job.”

When he signed up for his first class, Mitchell was 49 years old and concerned that he would have difficulty fitting into a college atmosphere after so many years away from school. “I had taken a number of individual courses at UNH over the years, some as potential Gen Ed requirements and some for personal enrichment, but I had never been enrolled in a degree program. Starting one at this stage in my life was at first overwhelming.” After attending his first class at Great Bay, he was quickly reassured after seeing a diverse group of ages and backgrounds represented throughout the school. “Being able to exchange ideas with people from hundreds of different life experiences, makes GBCC a really rich learning environment. The non-traditional student is the norm here, not the exception and that is what makes this school unique.”

In addition the newness of enrolling in a degree program, Mitchell also had to give up a full time career. He made arrangements to support himself by working as an LNA and as a musician. He credits the College’s financial aid advisors in the One-Stop for help guide him through financing the budget gaps that were left. To those considering a career change, Mitchell has nothing but praise for Great Bay. He sees his education as having immediate value by not only providing a solid career, but also a foundation for further learning. “Community College is real-life education. It focuses on what a student needs in order to reach his or her goals – a solid education, applicable in the real world, in a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable cost.”

Reflecting on his experience, Mitchell said, “I read an article for a class that said Community College ‘allows a student to unconditionally begin, just begin. Implicit in this belief is the understanding that anything and everything is possible." This sentiment is absolutely true in my case. GBCC showed me how to just begin, one class at a time and my advisors offered encouragement and guidance every step of the way. In what seemed like no time at all, I am now 53 years old and graduated with my nursing degree. It doesn’t seem possible.”

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