Nick Murray is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina where he is a Logistics Officer and Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army. He serves his country as a Platoon Leader and Maintenance Control Officer... and it all started at QCC. When he first came here, he was looking to build his GPA as well as his confidence. Coming in as a first-time college student after taking a few years off can feel intimidating, but taking that first step is really the hardest part.
Sutton Fire District Chief Robin Dresser is living proof that mother really does know best. The Chief is a graduate of the Fire Science program at Quinsigamond Community College, class of 2005 and he says it was all his mom's idea. Chief Dresser's mom (Edna) is also a QCC grad, she received her Accounting degree with the class of 1978. So... when her son was looking for a school, she knew exactly what to suggest.
“Growing up I had always wanted to get into public service- be it firefighter or police officer. When I hit my early teens I decided I wanted to be a firefighter,” he said.
Robin knew he wanted to get into fire science, but that his choices would be limited because it wasn't offered as a degree option at many schools... not within a reasonable driving distance, anyway.
“I didn’t want a mess of student loans and at the time spending a lot money on a degree and then going into an entry-level position didn’t make sense,” he said. That's when mom chimed in and suggested he take a look at what he could get at QCC. “They did offer fire science as a major, so it worked out well,” he said.
While being a firefighter does not require a degree, Robin said most communities require some form of degree in order to advance. If you wanted to move up the 'ladder', be eligible for pay increases, promotions, and achieve other career goals, a degree is a good thing to have. When you have the opportunity to get it done without any debt, you really can't go wrong.
“The class schedule worked out for me, since I was working full time while attending. I had some day classes, but most of the classes had been evening classes,” he said, adding that the professors he had were all either current or retired from the fire science industry.
“They were not just instructors, they lived being firefighters and experienced it personally,” he said.
After graduation Robin went right into the workforce, having already been a call firefighter with the Sutton Fire Department.
“In 2005 I applied for full-time at the department and was hired. I have continued to move up in rank and this past May was promoted to District Chief,” he said, adding that while it wasn’t necessary for him to have a degree within his department it was “a bonus and helped me out.”
Mr. Dresser said he does plan to one day continue his education and obtain his bachelor’s degree, but will stay in the fire science field.
“I’m happy with what I do. I love my job and love going to work every day,” he added.
*Photos courtesy of the Sutton Fire Department.
Jansson Family alumni, from left: Jeff Jr., Jeffrey, Jarrod, Robin, Lindsey.
Jeffrey Jansson knows the value of a degree. The 1979 Respiratory Therapy graduate came to QCC by way of Holy Cross.
“I had a bachelor’s degree in French but couldn’t get a job. Half my class couldn’t get jobs,” Mr. Jansson said. “Someone had told me respiratory therapy was a good field and there were plenty of jobs.”
That was it, it was all Jeffrey needed to spring into action and become a student again and join the Respiratory Therapy program. He did the clinical portion of his degree at Memorial Hospital on Belmont Street in Worcester and was offered a position after graduation. Jeffrey would spend the next 40 years making his career as a staff Respiratory Therapist B.A.RRT. It was at Memorial Hospital that he would meet Robin, a secretary in the Emergency Department. He and Robin dated, married and started a family. Robin eventually decided she wanted to try something new while the kids were young, so she enrolled in a psychology class at QCC.
“I initially just wanted to take a course and get out of the house so I took a psychology course and thought ‘this is fabulous,'” she said. “I liked it a lot and next semester took another class.”
As someone who worked in a medical setting for so many years, nursing had been something that greatly interested her, so she decided to work toward her nursing degree. For the next 12 years, as her three children were growing, she took one class per semester, working on her prerequisites for QCC’s nursing program.
“While the children were growing I decided I was going to do this and I completed all my prerequisites then slid into the two-year nursing program." Mrs. Jansson said, adding that while she was an older non-traditional student, she never felt she was the “older one” in her classes. “I felt a lot of support."
Robin took pride in being a student and that pride was validated when she did her clinicals at Saint Vincent Hospital and UMass Hospital (University Campus).
“The staff at these hospitals would always say they loved the fact that we were QCC students. They felt like we were prepared and felt confident in us,” she said. “I felt totally prepared to enter the nursing field."
In 2009, at the age of 50 years old, Robin graduated from the nursing program. Today she is working as a Pre-Op/PACU RN at Worcester Surgical Center.
It’s All in the Family
Healthcare is truly ingrained in the Jansson family. In May of 2019, as dad was retiring after 40 years on the job, Jarrod and Lindsey were graduating with nursing and respiratory therapy degrees. Lindsey plans to attend Worcester State University this fall to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Older brother Jeff Jr. graduated from the Radiologic Technology program in 2014 with an associate degree. While Jeff Jr. is currently working as a machinist at Saint Gobain, it was his degree from QCC which helped him “get the job,” according to his mother.
While only just graduating, Jarrod has already obtained a job as a respiratory therapist at the UMass Hospital (University Campus) after passing all his licensing requirements. A particularly emotional moment for the family was during Jarrod’s pinning ceremony when his father was called to the stage to pin his son.
“Jeffrey was passing the torch to Jarrod,” Mrs. Jansson said. “We are as proud as peacocks.”
“I have many patients who are moms who say they can’t get an education I tell them they can do this. I tell them ‘take your time, go to QCC and take that one class,’” she said. “Every journey starts with a first step."
Sometimes, just when you think you have your life figured out, something goes awry. That was the case for Josh Biernacki, a QCC graduate who had planned to join the Marines after high school. Today, the Marines are a distant memory and he's poised to begin the next chapter in his life as a high level technical recruiter for an IT consulting and recruiting firm in Boston.
Dianna Provencher is a mother of two, a grandmother of three, a beekeeper of literally thousands and a Quinsigamond Community College graduate. They say an interesting journey never follows a straight path and Dianna is a perfect example of how that came to be true. But... there's more to Dianna's story, some may say she's as busy as a bee.