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Julian Cutrone transferred to Harvard from Northampton Community College (NCC) in 2015.
Why did you decide to come to NCC? What did you major in?
After having spent a good number of years working odd jobs, I realized that I would need to continue my higher education in order to escape the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that I had developed. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to study and enrolled in a programming class with Professor Lippincott at the Monroe Campus. There I quickly learned I absolutely loved computer programming.
Have you graduated from Harvard, or are you still a student there? Are you working, and if so, what are you doing?
Not yet! I'm currently a student and have roughly a year left until I've met all my requirements for graduation. Harvard aims for their students to have a very well-rounded education, so I am taking a bunch of interesting (and challenging!) courses in topics like foreign languages and philosophy. I am not currently working full-time. I actually left my job in Pennsylvania to move here. However, I'm always working odd jobs here and there, most of them computer related.
What degree are you studying for at Harvard? In what subject?
I am studying for a bachelor of liberal arts with a concentration in computer science at Harvard's Extension School, which is Harvard's equivalent to a school of continuing education. I am definitely taking a non-traditional approach to obtaining a degree, but I think learning that we can solve any problem we encounter in a non-traditional method is one of the most valuable lessons we learn at NCC.
Did Harvard accept all of your NCC credits?
They absolutely did, with one exception, a single niche computer course called Microcomputer Applications. This class wasn't accepted only because it didn't have an equivalent class in my degree program. However, Microcomputer Applications was so useful that I would consider taking the course again without credit. I think sometimes people don't realize that classes you take at any accredited institution, such as NCC, are incredibly useful to you wherever you might go.
What was the transition like between NCC and Harvard?
The transition was both challenging and rewarding. The Harvard Division of Continuing Education (which encompasses the Harvard Extension School, the Harvard Summer School, and a number of other professional development programs) offers a large number of online classes. However, I opted to move to Massachusetts to pursue my classes on campus. This presented me some new challenges such as finding living accommodations, leaving behind my friends and family, and learning the ways of Boston and Cambridge after having lived so long in Pennsylvania. Also, to be accepted into the Harvard Extension degree program you have to succeed in a trial-by-fire sort of testing procedure where you take a number of introductory classes and are expected to perform to a specific standard.
How did what you learned and experienced at NCC contribute to your success at Harvard?
That's a difficult question to answer because NCC has contributed so much to my success! My time at NCC gave me the classroom skills that I use on a daily basis to succeed in my schoolwork, whether it be how to properly format a paper in MLA or the most effective way to study for a midterm exam. Also my interactions with the diverse student base at NCC gave me the skills to communicate and collaborate with my peers at Harvard, who are also very diverse. Most importantly, studying at NCC gave me the motivation I needed to make such a life-changing move as this by allowing me to discover a range of skills I never knew I had.
Can you tell me something about yourself and your family, if you'd like to?
Sure! I have a bit of an infatuation with learning new things, and because of this I've worked a bunch of different jobs. I've been a cook, a taxi driver, a security officer, a salesman, a construction worker, so on and so forth. This infatuation is why computer programming is perfect for me, because I'll never run out of things to learn! My family is small but very tight knit. My mom runs a small grooming business in East Stroudsburg and my dad works as a superintendent in New York.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yeah, I'd just like to say to any NCC students reading this, remember that the absolutely only factor that has a bearing on your success in the future is how much motivation you can muster up. You can learn the skills at NCC that can carry you anywhere in life. Best of luck!
Where are YOU going? NCC has transfer agreements with more than 100 four-year colleges and universities!