Piper Gauthier, Class of 2015

Piper Gauthier always appreciated the science behind the art of cooking. It's no wonder, then, that since she's been at NCC, she's managed to pursue degrees in both fields.

"I originally wanted to be a veterinarian," says Gauthier, who was home-schooled for two years before making the transition to NCC. "Ever since I was a little girl, though, I loved to cook. The science of cooking was fascinating to me. I finished all of my general education credits and then started the culinary program in the fall of 2013, took courses through the summer, and graduated this past August."

Though Gauthier enjoyed the experience of going through the program and "gaining cooking skills ten times better" than when she started, she ultimately decided that the biggest lesson she learned is that a career in the culinary arts isn't for her. From there, she decided to transfer her credits right into the pursuit of a biological sciences degree.

"I saw that the science department was great, even as I was doing the culinary program. So I thought…why can't I do both?" says Gauthier. "I'll have two degrees when I'm finished here."

Gauthier is following in her sister Zoe's footsteps and is the second member of her family to attend NCC in pursuit of a science degree. She's also decided to give a second chance to her original dream of working with animals. The Gauthiers grew up with dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, ferrets, goats, horses and sheep around, so Gauthier is hoping for an eventual career working with large animals.

"Not having animals in my life would be completely strange," says Gauthier. "Out of all of the animals that we had as I was growing up, I also lost a lot of animals and saw a fair share of death with my pets. I know, from experiencing that, that I can tolerate this experience. I know that this is the right career for me and the right path."

Gauthier is currently serving as vice chairperson of the student senate and is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. When she first started at NCC, she took a full semester to really come out of her shell and get involved. Now, as she prepares to eventually transfer to a four-year school with the hopes of moving into veterinary school beyond that, she encourages other incoming NCC students to look for opportunities to connect to the campus.

"Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to get exposure and experience. Northampton has so many programs and activities that could help you get into something related to your field of study," says Gauthier, who also tutored chemistry students this semester in the Learning Center. "You may have an interest in something you don't even realize."