Michelle Tatosian plans to revolutionize America’s approach to treating a population that has been long underserved: convicted offenders. A liberal arts/psychology major, Tatosian says, “as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, I am determined to provide them with the resources and opportunities they deserve and need to succeed. These offenders are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends. I hope to improve the lives of countless American families, give thousands of men and women the chance to reclaim their futures and make our society a safer place.”
Tatosian has known struggle firsthand. During high school, she became heavily addicted to drugs. She went through five outpatient rehabilitation programs and two inpatient rehabilitation programs before she was able to maintain sobriety. She found herself on her own in a town she didn’t know, having to quickly learn how to support herself. She started by working a sixty-hour week at a pizza shop, eating leftover pizza and renting a basement room. Two years later, she had a two-bedroom apartment and a supervisory position in a fine dining restaurant, serving celebrities and NFL players.
Although she was doing well, she decided that she wanted to do more with her life, and she enrolled at NCC. At the College, she availed herself of every opportunity, consulting professors for help that they readily gave and filling leadership positions in student organizations. She served as vice president of the Psychology Club from fall 2017-spring 2018 and as president of the Tau Gamma chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She is an inducted member of the NCC chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success and the All-Pennsylvania Academic Team. Tatosian was named a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar for the state of Pennsylvania. Only one scholar is selected from each state for this honor. She also received the Trustee Leadership Award and the Liberal Arts Award at NCC’s Awards Convocation on April 25.
She will continue her education at East Stroudsburg University.
“I have realized that my future is not limited by circumstances of my past,” she says.
“I determined in high school that I wanted to do environmental science after performing a macroinvertebrate study as bioindicators for water quality,” says Rachel Bealer, an environmental studies major.
What she especially likes about NCC is the relationship she has with her professors. “They cheer me on and care about their students,” she says. She also enjoys NCC’s small class sizes and opportunities to take a leadership role early on.
She also appreciates having made one of her closest friends, also one of her first friends to have grown up in another country, Slovakia. Bealer says that without NCC she would never have been able to learn about her friend’s culture and to gain a broader perspective and understanding of the world and the United States.
Bealer has further expanded her experiences through her participation in clubs, including Phi Theta Kappa, Student Senate, the National Society for Leadership and Success, the Outdoors Club, and Good Growers. She credits the honors program with “shaping me into a better version of myself as a student. At the Awards Convocation ceremony on April 25, she received the Honors Program Award.
“At NCC, I was given the opportunity for leadership development and made many relationships with other students, faculty and staff.”
Bealer plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in aquatics and fishery science at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry.
“The best thing about architecture,” says Amadou Camara, “is that we are designers of the future, and our buildings inspire people.” As an architecture major, he aims to be one of the best, to design buildings and inspire other students to major in architecture.
He chose NCC as the place to begin his higher education because “NCC has one of the best architecture programs of community colleges.” “Architecture is not easy, and it never will be,” Camara says. He advises students to be persistent and dedicated to this major and to expect to spend a great deal of time in the studio. Communication with faculty is the key to success, he adds. He recommends that students meet with their academic advisor before registering for classes and maintaining an open communication line with professors.
He also urges students to join clubs and is a member of the American Institute of Architecture Students, the National Society of Leadership and Success, the International Student Organization, and Phi Theta Kappa. At the Awards Convocation ceremony on April 25, he was awarded the Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship.
“NCC has changed my life,” he says. “I’ve gained tremendous opportunities and learned a lot about leadership. I’m so grateful for the impact NCC has made in my life.”
He will transfer to Kansas State University or to Thomas Jefferson University.
When Naomi Carl entered NCC, she knew she had artistic talent, but wasn’t sure what she should choose as a major. She did know that she had always been interested in fashion and design, and she knew that an associate degree would give her a little bit of everything. A range of courses enabled her to take risks in drawing class, learn computer graphics and understand more about herself. In the marketing program, she gained insights into how to present herself in the business world and marketing skills, giving her a platform to then concentrate on design. “NCC was a great school to find out what I am skilled in and take the next step to a higher degree,” she says.
Carl’s greatest hurdle in college was time management. “You have to learn to pace yourself and be organized in order to succeed,” she tells other students. She also encourages students to not be afraid to ask for help from their professors. For Naomi, the Learning Center at NCC was an additional, important resource.
At college, she says, she became a more confident public speaker and more professional, skills she can take into any career. By taking different classes and meeting many people, she also began to shape herself to have a better grasp of what she saw herself becoming. “Being here really made me mature as a person and become more clear about who I am and what I want to accomplish and achieve.”
Now, Carl is looking into studying abroad, with Milan, Italy, at the top of her list.
From a large family of nine siblings, Chavarre Fladger, culinary major, learned to not only cook at an early age, but also how to turn simple ingredients into a meal. “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches often used to be the main meal,” he shares. He soon became proficient at creating something more substantial out of random ingredients to stretch the food budget, a skill that came in handy for him this May as he competed at NCC in a mystery basket cooking challenge. The winners will get to experience an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans to work in Chef Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants.
Fladger chose NCC because of the College’s affordability, closeness to home and the opportunity to expand his expertise and repertoire to multicultural cuisine. Additionally, he values the program because he learned many things inside and outside the classroom.
About his classes, he tells students that they are very educational and that faculty will do anything to help a student succeed. “My advice is to not give up when you feel discouraged. Always stay true to yourself and improve.”
Fladger also grew personally through his involvement with the Student Leadership program, of which he is a graduate. “It opened a lot of doors for my college career,” he says. Of NCC as a whole, he says that he became more self-confident, knowledgeable and humbled.
Currently, he is employed at Camelback Resort in the kitchen of Trails End Pub & Grille. He hopes to ultimately become a personal chef.
Cody Geddings is a liberal arts and sciences/general studies major who had many financial obstacles when it came to pursuing a college education. “So, I started at NCC. I have zero regrets,” he says. “I am ready for my next years at university because NCC does a great job of equipping you with so many cool resources. Make use of them!” is his advice to current students.
The son of a single mother, he saw how she lost her retail job and sacrificed much for him to be successful. He remembers her saying to him: “Son, go make something of yourself.”
Geddings has demonstrated that at NCC, becoming a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
He believes in giving back, serving as a peer mentor and supporter. He participated in College Completion Week, and as a part of the roadside cleanup crew. He says that his most significant project has been an honors-in-action project through Beta Beta Chi, of which he is president, to plan the installation of an apiary on campus. He also is a volunteer for the campus food pantry and served two terms on the Campus Activities Board. Geddings was one of five NCC students, named to the All-Pennsylvania Academic Team, receiving a two-year full tuition scholarship at any Pennsylvania state university.
He will be attending Slippery Rock University and majoring in Health Care Administration and Management. His career goal is to work in hospital management and help improve healthcare for as many people as possible.
Julio Hernandez chose to major in liberal arts, psychology, because he felt it would best prepare him to transfer to Moravian College, where he will study speech/language pathology, on the way to becoming a clinician in the field. “The most unique thing about this program is that, while it consists of mostly psychology courses, there is a refreshing amount of other courses that cover a variety of topics.”
He appreciates having studied at NCC. “My time at NCC made me become a more open-minded and thoughtful individual. Through the experiences I had, such as making new friends to realizing what my purpose was, it was all very existential at times,” he says. “It led me to the life path I am on and helped mold me into the man I am today.”
He recommends that students take their time and really take in what they are learning, making sure to work hard. He also believes that students should take time to have fun. “It’s important to maintain a balance,” he says.
A member of the honors program, he is a co-recipient of the honors award. He is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society. “Each of these organizations made me realize that my hard work meant something more than just good grades.”
“Most of my family, whom I respect and love, are in law enforcement,” says criminal justice graduate Ashley Klostermann. “I grew up loving the field of criminal justice, and since I was a little kid, I wanted to become a police officer and help people.”
She advises students that if they want to serve their communities, the criminal justice program will give them the skills they need. She says that the professors are amazing and the course content interesting. “The program may be challenging at times, but in the end it is without a doubt worth it,” she says. “The faculty is extremely knowledgeable and experienced. They care about their students’ success, and they actively make themselves available to help you.”
When Klostermann enrolled at the Monroe Campus, she already had some familiarity with NCC as a dual enrollment student from Pleasant Valley High School. She enjoyed the class sizes, professors and diversity at the College. For these reasons, NCC was her number one choice for college.
Affordability and accessibility were major factors in her decision. Her mother is physically disabled, and her father has advanced cancer. Being at the Monroe Campus allowed her to stay close to them, since the campus is just ten miles away. Because her family could not afford tuition at a 4-year state college, NCC offered an alternative.
While working at a fulltime job, she has still earned a 4.0 GPA. Membership in Phi Theta Kappa gave her “the encouragement she needed when times were tough.” She says that NCC’s diversity has made her a better student, daughter and community member.
At the Awards Convocation ceremony on April 25, Klostermann was awarded the Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship. She will continue her education at East Stroudsburg University. Her goal is to become a Pennsylvania state trooper.
A husband and father of five, Harry Martinez thought twice about returning to college because he had a fulltime job to pay the bills. He wondered how he would find the time for school.
Nevertheless, he enrolled at NCC, majoring in applied psychology. “I chose my NCC major because I love to help people and want to follow in my uncle’s footsteps as a counselor to help youth who suffer from behavioral issues and to keep them away from a life of crime,” he says. “I want to help them see their full potential and become productive members of society and not enter the prison system.”
He chose to begin this career path at NCC because he loved the small classes and had heard great things about the faculty.
At college, he became active in clubs and events. He advises current students to do likewise. “Meeting new people and being in clubs made me a better person and it made my college experience more enjoyable,” he says. “Being involved in clubs made me feel part of a community.” He was president of Psi Beta, vice president of HOLA and an active member of Phi Theta Kappa.
Martinez plans to continue his education through the master’s level. He is transferring to East Stroudsburg University and looks forward to becoming a behavioral counselor or a guidance counselor in a high school.
Tristian Novack chose his major, communications studies, because he could finish it in a specific time frame; “I ended up falling in love with it and realizing that it is the perfect program for me,” he says. “I love the versatility of it, and know that communications skills are essential to any career. The program will give you that and more.”
Although he had transferred to a university previously, Novack returned to community college because “NCC offers support to students that does not seem to exist in the same way in a university setting.”
He says that the classes and faculty are engaging and that he never felt the need or desire to miss classes because everyone was so interesting. He especially appreciates the helpfulness of faculty.
Between his first and second semesters, his mother died, and Novak struggled with his grief. He feels that NCC gave him great support during this difficult time.
He is a member of the Women’s Club at NCC and says that the club and the College have helped him build friendships and a platform to create acceptance for transgender people on campus.
Novak plans to transfer to Penn State, Scranton, and to be an educator on transgender sensibility in academia and the workplace. He also aspires to be a community college professor.
As an international student from Kenya, culture shock was, at first, an obstacle automotive technology major Moses Otieno had to overcome. Nevertheless, his many positive experiences at NCC showed him how to interact with people here and anywhere.
“The faculty is fun to interact with, down to earth, and they are very approachable and ready to help,” he says. Otieno also enjoyed learning about American and other cultures by participating in the International Student Organization and the Engineering Club. He also served as the secretary of the Residence Hall Council, which improved his leadership skills, while improving his English language skills.
He sees that NCC is dedicated to student success and that the instructors work tirelessly toward that goal. The availability of resources and equipment in his field was also important to him. And, “The classes are fun, educative and dedicated to what you need to understand,” he says.
Otieno is planning to continue his education at Lehigh, Penn State or Arizona State universities, while venturing into job hunting and leadership opportunities. “I feel confident now with the knowledge and experience I’ve gotten at NCC to work in any repair shop or dealership, as well as being a leader.”
His ultimate goal is to be the CEO of his own auto shop.
Throughout her life, Breena Quier has wanted to enter the medical field in order to heal people globally, leading her to enroll at NCC as a biological science major. Taking an environmental studies course as an elective, however, inspired her to dual-major in biological science and environmental biology.
A first-generation college student, Quier faced obstacles, including the loss of a full-time job, financial stress and an extensive history of family turmoil. “There will be obstacles throughout your academic, personal, and professional journey” she tells students, “but you hold the key to your victory over the presence of these obstacles.” She advises students to ensure being on the right track by getting involved with college life and creating a sustainable support system on campus. “Create connections with professors, advisers, and peers to help answer questions or lift you up throughout your academic career and then some.”
She calls NCC “a strong environment of transformation,” in which she has become more articulate, patient and extroverted. Largely, she attributes this change to engagement with extracurricular activities such as the Phi Theta Kappa honor society; Beta Beta Chi, as vice president when the chapter achieved international five-star status; student governance, of which she was vice president; and orientation leadership and peer support positions at the Monroe Campus.
Quier has accepted admission to Moravian College. Her ultimate goal is to become a gynecologist and obstetrician.
“The atmosphere at NCC gave me roots and allowed me to grow exponentially in my personal, academic and professional life, with guidance from many mentors,” she says.
For biological science major Bronte Reidinger, the most unique aspect of NCC has been having professors for all her classes, as opposed to having the teaching assistants her friends have had at major universities. “All of the professors love what they do, are passionate about it and do an amazing job teaching complex topics,” she says. “And I really get to know my professors.”
A prospective medical student, Reidinger also values the flexibility the science curriculum offers to take medical school prerequisites as well as electives in other areas.
She advises students who major in biological science to “buckle in,” as it is one of the most challenging majors, but if you take advantages of the resources available to students, you will be successful. These resources include free tutoring at the NCC Learning Center and an “amazing faculty and staff dedicated to student success.
After high school, Reidinger took some time off to work as a registered behavioral technician, helping children on the autism spectrum learn new skills and reduce behavior problems. She remains at this job, which she loves, while attending college. “At NCC I proved to myself what I am capable of,” she says. “I’ve learned about the world around me and how to be an educated citizen. I’ve learned how to maintain a busy schedule and many responsibilities.”
Reidinger has earned a 3.95 GPA and recently received the Pearson Award in Biology for the highest GPA in her major.
She also interned at a microbiome research project, started a Net (community service-based organization) chapter, served as secretary of the Science Club, and been a member of the honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, while achieving Dean’s List every semester.
Reidinger will be transferring to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, in the ore-med path. Ultimately, she wants to be a developmental-behavior pediatrician, opening a multi-service facility.
Like many students entering college, Ethan Westerholm wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after high school. “I knew I enjoyed working with my hands, so a trade sounded appealing,” he says. “But at the same time, I wanted a college education.” Enrolling in NCC’s associate program in electrical technology met both of these requirements.
After his first year at NCC, Westerholm received an internship at MRP Electric, an electrical contracting company, which gave him the opportunity to work 500+ hours at Flexlink®, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of automated conveyer systems. During his internship, he discovered that he loved electromechanical technology as well as electrical technology and decided to dual-major in both fields.
“The best thing about the two programs,” he says, “is that they have provided me with the skills and knowledge to pursue multiple careers.”
Westerholm encourages students to consider careers in technology. “The industry is booming, and there is a high demand for skilled professionals and a lack of qualified professionals who can fill these positions,” he says. “Companies are desperate for qualified and trained individuals. Job placement after school is virtually 100%.”
He notes that an undeserved stigma is sometimes attached to “trades.” “It is most certainly not inferior to any other career path,” he says. “There are so many paths you can take, including maintenance, management, design, testing, manufacturing and more.”
Having earned a 4.0 GPA, Westerholm will continue his education at Bloomsburg University, with the goal of entering leadership positions. “It’s exciting to think that I’m just getting started and that so many doors have been opened for me because of what I learned at NCC!”