Alumni Success Stories
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Geoffrey Reynolds, 1986
Geoffrey Reynolds loves history.
In fact, he loves it so much that he’s made a career out of studying and preserving it.
When it comes to his past, Reynolds credits a pivotal decision he made 30 years ago with his current success as the Mary Riepma Ross Director of the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College with a faculty rank of professor.
It was the spring of 1984. Reynolds had just graduated from Charlevoix High School and decided to enroll at North Central.
“I wanted to get my associate degree before moving onto a four-year school, and North Central allowed me to save money and get a better sense of my career path,” he said.
Reynolds commuted from Charlevoix for the two years he attended North Central, and he found the college to be the right choice for him.
“I appreciated the small campus, the great professors and the cost,” he said.
Among the professors who had the most significant impact on Reynolds were Professor Pat Ranger (sociology), Professor Jim Helmer (science and math), and Professor Larry Cummings, who taught history.
“My first semester, Pat told me to get with it and start attending her afternoon Introduction to Sociology class,” Reynolds said.
It was the nudge that Reynolds, who described his high school career as “less than stellar,” needed.
“It woke me up,” Reynolds said. “I finally started doing my work.
“Larry was my advisor and helped me navigate becoming a historian and preparing to become a high school history teacher, and Professor Helmer helped me finally master algebra,” Reynolds said.
His involvement as vice president of Student Council added to his North Central experience, and a Polynesian-themed luau in 1986 ranks among his fondest memories.
“One of the events was the ‘Lava Lava Run,’ which was students running around campus in shorts and Hawaiian shirts in the early spring,” Reynolds said.
He graduated in May 1986 and transferred to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania before completing his bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Central Michigan University.
Reynolds then taught high school social studies for Boyne Falls Public School for four years, but higher education—and a passion for archival documents—beckoned. He enrolled at Wayne State University and completed a Master’s in Library and Information Science with an emphasis on archival administration.
Reynolds became director of the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College in 2001, and became the inaugural recipient of the Mary Riepma Ross Directorship of the Joint Archives of Holland in 2014. The endowed position was established by Mary Riepma Ross, a New York City attorney and philanthropist whose passions included arts and education. Her father, Sears F. Riepma, was a 1900 alumnus of Hope College and a minister in the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopalian Church.
The Joint Archives of Holland, in addition to preserving information concerning a variety of aspects of local history, also contains materials about Hope and Western Theological Seminary.
Reynolds and his wife, Jennifer, live in Holland. They and have a daughter, Hannah, who’s graduated from college, and a son, Peter, who is a student at Hope. Reynolds serves as a board member of the Holland Historical Trust, treasurer of the Dutch-American Historical Commission, membership chairperson for the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies, board member of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, and executive director of the Holland Area Historical Society.
Outside of work and his civic engagements, he enjoys boating on Lake Charlevoix with family and friends, and researching, writing about, working on, and conversing about the pleasure boat industry and vintage boats.
Reynolds touts the value of North Central whenever he has the opportunity, and he proudly proclaims his alumni status on his LinkedIn profile.
“North Central is the best educational choice and value in Northern Michigan, if not the state,” he said.
“The basics I learned and confidence gained from North Central’s curriculum and professors put me on firm ground for being successful at the other three institutions and my current job. I grew into a good college student and mature adult with career goals and no student debt.”
And the rest, as Reynolds will tell you, is history.
Michelle (Shaler) Seelye, 1994
Michelle is a Boyne City native and was a first-generation college student. Graduating from North Central with her Associates in 1994, she went on complete her Bachelor’s degree in 1998 from Grand Valley State University.
“I wanted a good start before transferring to a larger university. Expectations regarding my experience at NCMC included smaller class size and low tuition costs. It seemed like a win-win. I wished for instructors that were easily accessible and knew me by name.” Michelle says of her decision to attend North Central immediately after high school.
“I loved that my classes were small and that we were able to receive individualized attention. The instructors were always available, they took time to help and answer questions. I also enjoyed having classmates, many whom I knew from high school, and getting to know others from neighboring communities like East Jordan, Charlevoix and Petoskey. It made it a nice transition from high school to college,” Michelle added.
During her time at NCMC, there were several instructors that provided guidance and inspiration to Michelle that lead her decision to study special education. Michelle’s advice to future students is “If you’re not sure what you want to do, take your time, there are plenty of opportunities to explore options and staff that will help lead you in the right direction.”
Upon graduating from GVSU, Michelle immediately began her career as a special education teacher at Wolverine Community Schools. After one year, she got a job with East Jordan Public Schools, where she is currently an elementary special education teacher. This fall (2019) will mark her 21st year in the East Jordan Public School system.
Michelle is an enthusiastic educator and community volunteer. “Over the years, I have taught at all levels K-12 in both a self-contained classroom and in a resource room. Students I service have a range of disabilities including, speech and language, emotional, and cognitive impairments as well as learning disabilities. I organize and implement plans to serve my students, work closely with teachers, support staff, and parents, as well as serve as the elementary coach for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). I enjoy organizing/volunteering time at school to other initiatives such as our annual Walk for Cancer, Blue Jean Day for Breast Cancer and more.” She has served on several boards for many years including the Boyne City Preschool and Boyne City Elementary PTO. Michelle is actively involved with her church and she continues to support local organizations near and dear to her heart, such as Challenge Mountain.
In Michelle’s words, “Attending North Central was one of the best decisions I ever made. I left after two years to continue my education with a great head start and debt-free. I learned many things as a student and made acquaintances with same aged peers from neighboring high schools and with non-traditional students.”
Michelle’s family carries on the education tradition, as her oldest daughter is a recent graduate of the early college program at North Central. “NCMC was an amazing start for me. I wouldn’t change my experience or decision to attend there for anything in the world.”
Alexandra Hubbard, 2008
Alexandra Hubbard began her college journey at North Central as a dual enrolled student in her junior year at Alanson high school. She attended Baker College after graduating from high school; however, she graduated with her Associate Degree in 2008 from North Central.
When asked why she choose North Central, Alexandra said “Dual enrollment was a great option for a high schooler. After leaving to attend Baker College, I decided to move home and attend North Central. The affordability for a quality education and to remain in Northern Michigan was a huge draw to me.”
Like many students, Hubbard was not sure what she wanted to study, so she used the resources available at North Central to help guide her. “When I attended NCMC there were great career counselors who were able to help me figure out where I was meant to be and the paths I needed to take to get there. They helped me realize that nothing was impossible, and that NCMC was the base to my future.”
Class size was also an advantage to Alexandra. “I really enjoyed the smaller class sizes. Even when they were ‘larger’ classes, they were not as big as what I experienced when I later went to Grand Valley State University. This allowed me to ask questions easily and often, and all around was a very comfortable situation.”
In 2008, Alexandra Graduated from North Central with her Associate of General Studies Degree. She then went on to Grand Valley State University where she graduated in 2011 with her Bachelor’s of Business Administration Degree, with an emphasis in General Management.
Following graduation, Alexandra had a successful career with Sysco Food Corporation in Grand Rapids for 7 years. She is currently employed at Mitchell Graphics as a Regional Account Manager, and serves as a board member on the Straits Area Community Foundation.
She says of her career path, “My degree at North Central gave me my foundation to go whichever way I wanted to. North Central allowed me to take classes that counted toward my degree that dabbled in multiple industries and fields. It gave me the freedom to really think about whether I wanted to look into a specific industry and check out the career options.”
Alexandra, you are clearly an asset to our community! We are glad you returned to Northern Michigan to share your talents.
GARRETT URMAN, 2008
As Garrett Urman puts it, he was “born, raised and still lives/works in Petoskey, MI.” He also took advantage of the higher education opportunities at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey – earning an associate degree in 2008, and continuing on through the University Center to complete his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lake Superior State University. Garrett has literally been our “poster child” for the UC, and we have thoroughly enjoyed our connection with him over the years.
A graduate of Harbor Light Christian School, Garrett was awarded a Presidential Scholarship which covered his first two years of tuition/frees. “It was a true blessing,” states Garrett. “Even if I had not received that scholarship, I likely would have still attended NCMC as I wasn’t fully sure what degree I wanted to pursue. By going to NCMC, I was able to my general education credits and live at home, allowing me to save money while still obtaining a great education.” And he graduated with a four-year degree from LSSU with no student debt.
“Honestly, the whole staff at NCMC was great,” states Garrett. “When I started pursuing business, a few professors stuck out – Tom Barkley (who has since passed away) in accounting and Rod Anderson in economics. Both took time out of class to answer questions I had, showing me that they wanted me to succeed. And Mr. Cummings is just a great man/great representative of NCMC.”
Garrett is now an Assistant Vice President – Business Banker at Citizens National Bank. He works closely with clients to be an advisor and partner to them by tailoring banking services which specifically meet their business and individual needs. “I started at Citizens National Bank in May 2019. Prior to that, I was employed at Chemical Bank (f/k/a Bank of Northern Michigan) for nearly 10 years. Classes taken at NCMC helped me understand basics of business management/administration, and financial performance, and made me a qualified candidate to go into banking.”
Garrett is married to wife, Danielle, also a North Central graduate (2008), and has one son, Anders, who is almost two-years-old. He loves being outside – hunting, fishing, boating and enjoying Northern Michigan’s seasons. Garrett is a board member for Lake Superior State University’s Lukenda School of Business Professional Advisory Board, Leadership Little Traverse and a finance team member for Harbor Light Community Chapel.
His advice to students planning for college: “NCMC is a great community college with solid academics. Credits transfer to higher level institutions well (they did for me). It is also affordable. Professors truly care about each student’s success.”
Great job, Garrett.
Kate Thorp, 2019
Meet Kate Thorp, a Sault Ste. Marie native and outdoor adventure seeker. She is a volunteer ski patroller at Nubs Nob in Harbor Springs during the winter. In the summer she works at Camp Daggett, belaying kids on the high-ropes and indoor climbing wall. Kate states it best when she says about her hobbies: “Anything outdoors. Mountain biking and climbing are my jam in the summer. Snowboarding and skiing are my peanut butter in the winter.”
A dual-enrolled student at North Central and a home-schooled student, Kate received her diploma in 2011. After that she attended the Culinary Institute of America in California, however, her love of the outdoors and adventure called her back to her roots in Northern Michigan.
“I came back in 2016 and wanted to switch gears to mountain search and rescue so I started with the MFR program Jim Cousino taught in the summer of 2017.”
Her decision to return to North Central were in part due to her positive experience and support she received here earlier in her education journey. “I have always had success at North Central since high school. The student to teacher ratio, financial aid, and quality of education is top notch.” A scholarship and grants were used to offset the cost of attending NCMC.
Kate finished the paramedic program in the Spring of 2019 and is currently working for the Emmet County EMS. About NCMC’s college to career path, Kate notes: “In the paramedic program you work closely with a lot of the EMS agencies in the area. You’re basically doing a job interview when you show up in your student uniform. A lot of my preceptors at Emmet County EMS also did the paramedic program at North Central. It is a very small community of mentors that want to see you succeed.”
Kate’s advice to those who are considering their college options, “Believe in yourself, and go for your dreams.”
This fall, Kate will attend Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, and has enrolled in their snow science and engineering program. We wish Kate all the best!
Haylie Haase, 2017
North Central Michigan College was not on Haylie Haase’s radar when she graduated from Johannesburg-Lewiston High School in 2015. Her hard work in high school was noticed by North Central, however, who offered her a Presidential Scholarship for fall 2015. “It was the biggest scholarship that I was offered from any college I was considering,” said Haylie.
She said that she thought a community college degree wasn’t as flashy as one from a major university, but she took the leap and joined the North Central family. And again, worked hard. “I knew a solid resume and a good GPA plus my degree from North Central and my work ethic and dedication to obtaining the life I want to live would propel me into whatever I decided to do moving forward. I ended up with a long list of clubs I belonged to and positions I held: RA, Presidential scholar, Student Senate President, Student ambassador, Circle K president, Hall Council member, Phi Theta Kappa member, front desk worker, Robert Emmet Scholar, and honors graduate.”
Haylie also made important connections at the College. “As a presidential scholar, I had access to two incredible women who aided me on my path at North Central. Paula Welmers was a wonderful advisor who was dedicated to helping me achieve my goals. She spent time to get to know me and my idea for my future. She understood the things that I was interested in and was very capable of matching things I was good at with those interests. I frequently received emails about careers she thought I’d like and transfer options to four year schools with programs she believed I’d love. I either left her office reconsidering everything, or completely confident in my path, and that was a good thing,” states Haylie.
She continues, “Wendy Fought was another person I was often in close contact with at North Central. At the time she was the head of so many things that I was involved in. Wendy handled the presidential scholars and taught us a leadership class, she was the advisor to Student Senate, and she was a go-to while I was attempting to change some things at North Central like my proposal to give residence hall students access to the gym without charge. Wendy was a rock when I was stressed and she always seemed to know what route I needed to take to get something accomplished.”
“Being a Resident Assistant had me working with Vice President of Student Services, Renee DeYoung, and Director of Campus Housing, Leon Nash, as well. Renee was a stronghold during some challenging times in the residence hall and was always available to meet with the RAs. We always felt supported. Leon Nash was a great boss in the residence hall. He trusted his RAs and delegated to us. He made sure we felt appreciated and always made time to meet with us to talk about things that needed to be discussed while also providing some much needed comic relief for all of us.”
And finally, “Former President Cameron Brunet-Koch was another member of the North Central team that I gained a lot of appreciation for after leaving North Central. It’s a rare thing to have a president of a college be so available to her students. Cameron sat down with me through a few proposals I had truly listened. She made me, as a student, feel like I could affect change,” Haylie concludes.
Haylie loved how much of a community North Central was. “Students could work with faculty and staff on ideas, and there was always a platform for people to voice their ideas,” she said.
Scholarships and student work also helped. Haylie received the Presidential Scholarship to attend North Central, which covered her full tuition. Her second semester, she became an RA and that position covered her room and board and came with a 20-hour-a-week job at the front desk in the residence hall.
And all of her involvement on campus paid off, because in 2017 she received the Robert Emmet Society scholarship to study abroad at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Galway, Ireland for the fall semester after she graduated. “All of this meant that I was able to obtain an associate degree and study abroad for free. My first two and a half years of college were completely debt free, with almost no money out of my pocket. Essentially because of North Central, as my education continued, I was able to obtain a four year degree while only paying for a year and a half.”
Haylie enrolled at Grand Valley State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in communications. Her intention now is to find a job in communications and continue with her education toward a master’s degree.
Now Haylie is back at North Central working part time for the summer. She graduated from Grand Valley only a month ago and is currently splitting her time between The Loon Golf Resort in Gaylord and North Central Michigan College. “At North Central I am working with the Student Outreach and Engagement team to create a strong social media plan though the upcoming school year,” she said.
“My path as taken me from North Central, to Ireland, to Grand Valley. And the connections I made while at North Central have given me the opportunity to have the part time job in my field with them that I currently have.”
“I’m glad I came to North Central because it was the first step in a path that lead me to where I am today. I made lifelong connections, got to know and enjoy all that is offered in Petoskey, and the minuscule amount of debt compared to my friends is pretty nice too,” she smiles.
Haylie likes to spend as much time as possible outside. She loves to hike and take and edit pictures of her hikes. “I love grilling, bonfires, going to the beach, long boarding, golfing, reading, anything that makes me feel connected to myself,” she says.
Haylie offers some advice to future student that has kept her growing and centered:
- Choose a route that is going to make you grow. I’ve learned so much about myself throughout the last four years. So much of it has been unlearning the societal pressures that we accept without much thought.
- Spend quality time with yourself, you’ll never regret it and you’ll always find a deeper understanding of who you are and what you’re meant for.
- Don’t be scared to challenge yourself, the hard parts are where you evolve the most.
- Always carry a journal
- Always keep your gratitude at the forefront of your mind.
We wish Haylie great success with all of her future endeavors. We know she’s going to be successful.
There was always music in Susie Johnson’s soul. Born in Long Beach, California, and a 1973 graduate of Millikan High School there, Susie was one of the first students to come to North Central Michigan College as part of the Young American Program, an American music program, now with world-wide recognition. Susie came to Petoskey at age 18, lived in the residence hall, took courses and earning college credits during the school year, and living life on the road with the Young Americans during the summer months.
“I loved the feeling of ‘everyone knowing your name’ and living in the dorms,” states Susie. “I really loved the chocolate chip cookies the cafeteria would make hot every day, and the candy store in the basement of the cafeteria,” she continues. “And I loved watching the switchboard lady at the dorms answer all of the phones.”
Susie started at age 21 as the company manager for the Young Americans and their USA tours with Columbia Artists. “There were 55 performers, a bus, a semi-truck, and a different town each night,” she remembers. “I was also privileged to work with both of the early presidents of North Central – Al Shankland and Bob Graham. I am still friends with Bob.”
At age 26, Susie was hired by Paramount Pictures in their TV production division and worked there for 32 years. “I worked with network and studio heads, cast members, and writers on all of the shows that I helped produce,” states Susie. “During the summer months, when my TV shows were on hiatus, I would come to Petoskey/Harbor Springs and produce everything the Young Americans did in Northern Michigan.”
Susie now lives permanently in Harbor Springs, still involved with the Young Americans Dinner Theatre and camps in Harbor Springs each summer, and volunteers for many organizations and the arts. She and her husband, Gil, love the area. Her advice to students contemplating attending North Central, “Embrace the greatness of what the College offers. North Central is at the top of its game! I am happy for the current and future students and wish I could live my life there all over again.”
PS: Susie is the one with long blonde hair on the left side of the photo. And yes, that is Bing Crosby, who was on the original Young Americans Board, 1962.
Wayne Tri, 2019
Wayne Tri has an “I Love Me” wall in his home which has been missing a college diploma for the last 50 years. On Friday, May 10, that spot is no longer vacant.
Wayne graduated in 1969 in Hastings, Minnesota. Vietnam was heating up, and so he decided not to wait for the draft, and enlisted in the Navy in 1970. There he trained in electronics, and in 1972 became part of a commissioning crew with a destroyer escort. IN 1973, he joined the rifle and pistol team, and shot in competitions all the way to nationals. As a result he became an instructor at Annapolis for a short time teaching newbies qualifying firearms.
After leaving the Navy and Annapolis, Wayne returned to Minnesota where he worked for Control Data Corporation for two years. He moved to Colorado Springs, CO and served as a copier repairman from 1975-1996. Then, he and his wife, a Petoskey native, moved back to her home town, and they opened the UPS Store on Mitchell Street. Wayne ran this store until January of 2019, when he sold and retired.
Wherever Wayne lived, he also took advantage of the local college, taking classes on and off his entire adult life. He accumulated credits from Inver Hills Community College, a small college in Colorado Springs, and from his tour of duty in the military.
“Getting my college degree has always been on my bucket list,” states Wayne. So in 2003, Wayne began to take classes from North Central Michigan College. He took classes in Winter 2003, Summer 2003, Winter 2006, Summer 2015, Winter 2016, and Winter 2018 and earned his associate degree in general studies in 2019. On May 10, Wayne walked across the stage at North Central and after 50 years, finally got his diploma. And not only that, he graduated with distinction and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, our honor society.
So we asked Wayne, “Now that you’ve graduated from North Central, what do you plan to do next?” And his reply is, “Never stop learning.” Wayne, we’ll see you in Fall 2019!
Randel Richner, 1978
Randel Richner was a rabble-rouser. She said, “If there’s a rule, there’s a way to get around it.” In reality, she was always motivated by change. Randel “graduated” in 1972 with a combination of credits from Grosse Pointe South High School and night school at Denby in Detroit. “I was a terrible student,” she states. “A high school counselor who believed in me made it possible for me to make it through.”
After a few years of alternative college and hitchhiking around the country, she moved to Good Hart, lived in a one-room log cabin with no running water, raised chickens, heated with wood, and worked as a waitress at the Crow’s Nest.
So how does a waitress from Good Hart, MI, grow to become one of the leading healthcare policy change agents in the United States?
It began with a change. The first change came when Imogene Gerry, dean of nursing at North Central Michigan College, met Randel when she was working at The Crow’s Nest. Imogene saw potential in Randel and offered her the opportunity to enroll in the nursing program. “She decided to invest in me,” remembers Randel. “I think you would make a great nurse,” Imogene said. Randel replied, “Are you kidding me? I barely made it through high school!” Imogene encouraged her and remained her advocate. “North Central played a tremendous role in my career path,” says Randel.
It was North Central that ignited a passion in nursing. It wasn’t easy, as nursing was very strict, and Randel struggled with the rules and hated it. Randel grew to love nursing, as well as the patient interaction and the patient journey. Graduating in 1978, she practiced at Little Traverse Hospital (now McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital) for 12 years. It was there that she discovered her interest in being an advocate for patients in the health care system. She started working in dialysis, helping to grow a significant home dialysis program for rural northern Michigan. She loved providing care on the only mobile hemodialysis Greyhound bus in the country, that served patients who had difficulty traveling to the hospital in Petoskey.
Another change happened in 1985, when Randel learned that the University of Michigan was offering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through Northwestern Michigan College. She took classes on the NMC campus as well as many essential courses at North Central, all while working full-time, traveling the 100 mile distance from Good Hart for school. Randel earned her BSN in 1986.
In 1988, Randel realized how her clinical experience could be channeled to change broad health care policy, affecting thousands of patients rather than one at a time. She left her clinical work as a nurse and enrolled at the School of Public Health at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There she engaged with health care leaders from around the world coming to Michigan for research and policy guidance. “I began discovering how all of my energy, passion and desire to affect change could be channeled,” she said.
Since her graduation in 1990 from the School of Public Health, she has worked at the intersection of health care and policy – from a research role with the Upjohn Company to a policy, health economics role at a Boston-based research firm, to establishing a global corporate function in Health Economics, Reimbursement and Government Affairs at Boston Scientific Corporation. She worked to shape implementation of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. “I spent a lot of time with Congress and several administrations in Washington, DC, helping to develop patient-oriented regulations for health care coverage policy to improve access to life-changing technology,” she states. She was appointed by the Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to an influential Medicare Coverage Advisory panel as the first industry representative to CMS.
Striking a big personal and professional change, she left the corporate world in 2006, and started her own company, Neocure, a consulting agency that specialized in strategic reimbursement policy and health economics for growing, promising technology and pharmaceutical companies. “My first customer was a startup that became the top home hemodialysis company in the country,” said Randel. “It took 7 years, but we finally changed a detrimental regulation for home hemodialysis patients changing access to that form of treatment.” Again, her passion about helping patients on dialysis never wavered throughout the many years since Petoskey.
Her advice to students entering nursing or any other program in higher education is, “It is essential to follow your passion. Don’t ignore what is most important to you personally. That will drive your success – both personally and professionally.” She laughs, “There are times you’re going to be unhappy, and you’re just going to have to suffer for awhile.”
In closing, Randel states unequivocally, “Community colleges and those who help you there, will help give you the insights to achieve personal and professional success. Find your inner grit and never let it go.”
Laura Maltese Simmonds, MBA, MSN, RN, 2005
Laura Maltese Simmonds had her eye on the future. Upon graduating from Charlevoix High School in 1998, she enrolled in summer courses at the College to “get a jump start on her future.”
“We moved to Northern Michigan from Dearborn, MI when I was 13 years old,” states Laura. “My goal was to pursue higher education, explore my career pathway, all while remaining close to home to enjoy beautiful Northern Michigan. It was also great to experience dorm-living at NCMC which is where I lived for two years while I pursued my first degree.”
Laura obtained two associate degrees from North Central – an Associate of Arts with an emphasis in Psychology in 2000 and an Associate Degree in Nursing in 2005. Laura took the NCLEX in June 2005 and became a registered nurse licensed in the State of Michigan. “I had interests when I started at North Central, but hadn’t quite figured out what I was passionate about,” she said.
Professor Trish Wright was an instrumental part of Laura’s academic development during her time at NCMC. “She nurtured my critical thinking ability through challenging and thought-provoking written assignments and mentored me to harness the power of scholarly literature and research,” states Laura. “Greg Baird, director of Student Activities and Residence Life, was also a key part of my NCMC experience. After living in the Resident Hall for a few months, Greg hired me as a Resident Advisor and mentored me toward peer leadership. He inspired me to pursue future leadership opportunities and to embrace diversity.”
“I loved the small class sizes, hands-on learning, and flexibility in class times. I had classes as early as 7 a.m. and others that ran as late as 10 p.m. which contributed to an awesome work-life-school balance. At the time, I wished I could have remained at NCMC to obtain a bachelor’s degree because it was so convenient and family-oriented.”
Financial aid was also a key to Laura’s educational success. She received a scholarship as a resident advisor that paid for two years of dorm housing, which allowed her to keep her local job, plus pay for classes. She was also a 2004 Michigan Nursing Scholarship recipient which paid almost all of her nursing tuition. “I graduated with a job and no debt,” states Laura.
After graduation from the NCMC Nursing Program, Laura was one of two graduate nurses to be selected for the Intensive Care Unit Graduate Nurse Residency Program at Northern Michigan Hospital (McLaren now) and began working as a critical care nurse just weeks after graduating from NCMC. She went on to work in critical care, medical/surgical, and emergency nursing at McLaren and Charlevoix Area Hospital.
In 2009, Laura enrolled at Spring Arbor University (SAU) through the University Center in Gaylord and graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2011. In 2015, she enrolled in graduate school at Spring Arbor University (SAU) and on March 1, 2019 completed an online dual master’s degree program obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
“After obtaining my BSN in 2011, I became the Health Occupations Instructor at Charlevoix High School mentoring students toward careers in the healthcare industry while working as a primary care nurse. My passion for the healthcare industry led me to seek broader opportunities to engage is the national crusade to provide populations of people with accessible, low cost, high quality care.” She continues, “In 2015, I was hired to work remotely for Catasys, a Los Angeles, California-based health technology company leading the industry in improving health and reducing healthcare costs by treating underlying behavioral health conditions that worsen chronic disease. I started with the company as a Nurse Care Coach and was promoted to a Care Community Supervisor. In 2017 I was promoted to a Manager of Program Performance and Analytics. In this unique role, I function as a nurse analyst of business and clinical data to meet company objectives and key results. My clinical background and exposure to the business side of the industry has given me the wherewithal to effectively oversee project management, contribute to the development of digital healthcare tools, perform regulatory audits of care quality, monitor data integrity, and troubleshoot key performance indicators.”
“My experience at NCMC built an invaluable foundation of technical, interpersonal, teamwork, productivity and leadership skills that I have continued to expand on and benefit from as I grow personally and professionally,” she states.
Now, post-graduate school and working full-time in the business side of the healthcare industry, Laura has begun to explore her passion for the work-at-home industry as an advocate for stimulating rural economic growth. She is a member of Charlevoix’s Economic Vitality Committee and a Remote Office Home Office (ROHO) Collaborative volunteer community leader. “I strongly believe in telework and the opportunities is holds for people with talents in all industries. I am an advocate for connecting people with resources, fostering employment opportunities, and inspiring people toward human flourishing and prosperity,” she says.
Laura is married to Caleb Simmonds, has an 11-year-old son, Skylar, and a German shepherd named Bella. When not working, she loves home improvement, photography, writing, wine-tasting, resale shopping, movies and running on a treadmill.
When asked about North Central, Laura is enthusiastic. “Call me if you’re hesitant! Choosing NCMC was life-changing and I cannot overemphasize the value of community college to explore your future – the possibilities are endless! I only wish I would have started college courses earlier. If you have the opportunity, please choose dual enrollment your senior year in high school. For those that want to go back to college while raising a family – take the plunge and invest in yourself! The NCMC experience is empowering!”
“NCMC is very close to my heart and even brings happy tears to my eyes when I think about where I started and how far I have come. Any chance I get to mentor people toward NCMC, I take it. NCMC allowed me the opportunity to blossom from a young woman into a successful healthcare leader and entrepreneur.”
Laura concludes, “Knowledge is power obtained through learning. Commit to learning new things through higher education and you will be empowered toward a bigger purpose. Make NCMC a part of your strategy to steward meaning in your life and contribute to global leadership.”
Stephen Conner Beer, 2018
Stephen Beer always knew that college was in his future. What was important to him was to find a place or a path for academic success that worked for him. That path began in 2015-2016, when, as a high school senior, he dual-enrolled at North Central, taking six credits each semester. Upon his graduation from high school in 2016, his path was clear and his experience as a dual student helped him transition into being a full-time North Central student very simple.
“I chose North Central because I wanted to afford college and get transferable credits to a larger university later down the road,” states Stephen. “I always knew that college was in my future, but I didn’t want a mountain of debt following me the subsequent years after graduating. So I chose an option for me that was in my budget, fit my schedule, and was close to home. NCMC made my shift from high school to college a fluid and simple experience.”
And that experience was excellent in many ways. “I was home, in an environment that encourages academic success,” he states. “I had friends that were on track to graduate from the Early College program, and I wasn’t too far behind them. I received the same education as others who attend four-year universities right out of high school, for a fraction of the cost, and still was able to transfer the credits to those same schools. So why pay 5-10 times the cost of something you can get for a fraction?”
Stephen also participated in student activities, including Phi Theta Kappa, an honors society for two-year colleges. “PTK provided opportunities to do community service, and work toward scholarships that are exclusively offered to students in the program,” he states. Stephen was also involved in the Student Ambassador program, and Student Senate.
Stephen also found great mentors at the College, naming Dr. Jenny Maginnis, James McCullough, Dr. Cameron Brunet-Koch and Dr. Peter Olson as the top individuals that worked with him to make sure he was accepted by the University of Michigan. “While at NCMC, I took five classes with James, most being English-based. He mentored me through all of the classes, always seeing the positive side to my writing and helping me improve upon it. This was different from my traditional upbringing of turning in an essay, getting a grade back, and that’s the end of that. His method of revising work I turned in helped me put a microscope to my writing and craft my best work,” he states. “Now Jenny Maginnis is another story,” he continues. “I would consider her a good friend at this point. I took two communications classes with Jenny while at NCMC. Jenny helped me become a more authentic version of myself through public speaking and interpersonal communication. Whenever I see Jenny when I make it home for a weekend or holiday break, we always catch up and chat about what going on in our lives. Jenny is genuinely one of the most amazing, brilliant, funny, amicable mentors I’ve ever had the honor of meeting.”
Stephen graduated from North Central with an Associate of Arts degree. “This was the program of study I chose because it was best suited to help me properly transfer to another school later down the road. Along with the Michigan Transfer Agreement, transferring from NCMC to the University of Michigan was a seamless experience. Without my academic adviser, Kimberly Dickinson, I wouldn’t have been able to navigate the complexity of the transferring credits process and or knowing which courses I needed to stay on track for graduation.”
Stephen is pursuing a pre-law track with a major in psychology and a minor in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. His hopes are for law school after he graduates. Stephen achieved a 4.0 in his first semester, and is hoping for the same in semester 2.
“If I have learned anything from my journey from North Central to the University of Michigan, it would be this. When you know your ‘why,’ your ‘what’ has more impact. What are you going to college for? Now why are you going to college? When you start to understand the magnitude of why you want to go to school, then what you’re going to school for will greatly impact your journey. I am glad that I chose North Central as my academic foundation.”
Chase Griffin, 2016
Chase Griffin, a CNC Certificate of Development graduate, has also earned his welding certificate through IAI, and after several years in the workforce as an employee, he has since opened his own shop, Tip of the Mitt Welding & Fabrication in Boyne City.
Dawn Bodnar, 2010
Dawn Bodnar is an excellent example of a student who returned to school after many years and has had a very successful career after graduation. Dawn was born in Allen Park, Michigan, and graduated in 1983. She attended the University of Michigan for a couple of year, then got married and raised a family.
In 2008, she returned to college and selected North Central Michigan College because of its location and the opportunity it offers for “older” or non-traditional students. Her experience was a positive one. She enrolled in the marketing program, with the hope to learn needed skills to re-enter the workforce after 20+ years. “I loved the opportunity to be ble to learn in a comfortable, flexible and affordable location.
Dawn received her degree in 2010 and prior to that, was hired as the Executive Director for the Indian River Chamber of Commerce.
“North Central offers a wonderful opportunity to receive a top-rate, affordable education locally. I think many “new” college students could greatly benefit from getting their associate degree from North Central and also take advantage of the University Center partnerships for getting a bachelor’s degree without leaving home,” she states. “So many of our young people graduate with massive students loans that will follow them well into their 40’s and 50’s. North Central offers the option to get a quality education from a number of prestigious universities at a fraction of the cost.”
“Five years ago, I resigned from my position at the Chamber of Commerce and accepted a position with Awakon Federal Credit Union as their Director of Marketing. I was promoted to Vice President of Marketing and Community Development, a year later. North Central was the catalyst for my success. The tools I learned there greatly benefit me daily in my career.”
Dawn Bodnar has been a member of the North Central Michigan College Foundation Board of Directors since August 2012. She also serves on the Special Events Committee. Dawn is very active in the community, serving as treasurer of the Cheboygan County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority since November 2012, a director for Top of Michigan Trails Council since December 2014; and of the Great Up North Marketing Alliance since June 2014. She is the Vice President of the Topinabee Development Association, secretary of the Friends of the Inland Lakes Schools, and serves on the Events Committee for the Indian River Chamber of Commerce. She enjoys volunteering, boating, traveling and spending time with family and friends. She has two daughters: Ayla (also a North Central alum) and Sara, who lives in California.
“I feel that NCMC is one of the best assets our region has to offer. And I encourage supporting the College. You will be making an investment in the future of our children and our local communities.”
Monica Kroondyk, 2009
Monica Kroondyk knew that education was the key. Graduating from Boyne City High School in 1999, Monica did not go directly to college, but instead started her family. When her son was born in 2001, she started taking a few classes. After her third child was born in 2006, she decided it was time to go back to school.“I knew that education was the key to getting where I wanted to be,” she said. “I chose North Central because it worked so well for me as a young mother. It allowed me to take classes on a schedule that was convenient and it was so close to home.”
Monica enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program, with the goal of opening her own day care center. “My two mentors were Jo-Anna Kolodziej and Jami Blaauw-Hara,” states Monica. “Jo-Anna was extremely helpful to me. I remember one time in particular when she told me that I could get more than an associate degree. As a first-generation college graduate, I thought that just earning my associate degree would be enough, a great accomplishment. But having her believe in me really inspired me to believe in myself and at that particular time in my life, I really needed that.”
“Jami got me thinking. The assignments in her class were some of the most memorable in my whole college career. I also think that having these two powerful independent women as professors was really inspirational.”
Monica graduated with her Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education in 2009, and then earned her Bachelor of Science in ECE from Lake Superior State University in 2012 and her master’s in library and information science from Wayne State University in 2015. She is currently the director of the Boyne District Library.
“I started out working at the Boyne District Library as the children’s librarian 9 years ago. My degree in Early Childhood Education helped me get this job,” she states.“While working at the Boyne District Library, I earned my BS in Early Childhood Education. I took on leadership roles within the organization and when the opportunity presented itself for me to go to school to earn my master’s, I jumped. Without the experience that I had at North Central, I might not have had the confidence to tackle grad school.”
She is also on the board for the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, the Boyne Heritage Center, and Leadership Charlevoix County. She also serves on the organizational committee for the Boyne City Main Street Program.“I enjoy spending time with my three children: Spencer (17), Savannah (14) and Sadie (12). And I love to read as much as possible.”
“I am so grateful for the experience that I had at North Central. It was the stepping stone that I needed to achieve my dreams. It gave me the support and guidance I needed at the perfect time in my life. For me it was about changing my family tree. I wanted my children to have the best possible life that I could give them and I knew that my education was one way that I could give them that.”
Monica, we are glad that we were one of the keys to your success and are proud of the job you are doing!
Meagan Krzywosinski, 2003
Meagan Krzywosinski is a community enthusiast, a believer in the good in everyone, and a motivator.She believes in doing what makes your heart happy.And she has made a successful career and life out of it all.
Meagan graduated from Petoskey High School in 2000.As she was enrolled in the dual-enrollment program with North Central, it was an easy choice to become a student. “I loved the small local learning opportunity offered right in my hometown!” she said. “I knew if I had the opportunity to learn where I loved to live that I’d be happy.”
“Paula Welmers was my favorite mentor during my whole time at NCMC. She supported my decision to work and attend school,” Meagan states. “She provided sound guidance, but most of all, she supported who I was then and who I am now as a strong independent woman. Now, almost 18 years later, I still consider her a dear friend and mentor. Thank you Paula for your guidance on this journey!”
After graduating in 2003 with her Associate of Arts degree, Meagan transferred to LSSU, but decided that being a full-time student was not for her. “I’m a better worker and contributor to my community! I came home and focused on learning everything I could from my employer, outside self-directed programs and reading. I’m a life-long learner but prefer to learn while building my career. In 2016, I tested for the SHRM-CP exam and passed!”
Meagan is currently the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources for First Community Bank. Her core passion is helping companies and people work together to make a positive difference in their corner of the world. “I’ve always had a passion for people and being available to listen/understand people’s needs and wants has been my true driving force,” she states. “Whether it was listening to tourists at the chamber of commerce, or planning a corporate retreat or wedding celebration at the Inn at Bay Harbor, my passion is cultivating relationships, bridging gaps and creating positive experiences.”
In 2007, Meagan stepped into the world of Human Resources at Boyne Resorts.“Mr. Marriott once said, ‘if you aren’t taking care of the guest, you better be taking care of the people who are taking care of the guests’” states Meagan. “This one statement was so powerful to me that it gave me the courage to step into the human resource world! Being the facilitator between companies and people, developing and coaching, and helping people reach their full potential is my love. I continue to have wonderful leaders in my life - from my family/friends, college mentors and my employers. They have provided support, given me opportunities, encouragement and pushed me to create the best version of myself. They believed in me. Has it been easy? No way! Has it been fun? Most of the time! Has it taken hard work, dedication and commitment? Yes! Would I do it all over again? Yes! I love our community, our people and strive each day to make a positive impact.”
“I feel like my education at NCMC was solid and provided a launching pad for my career success without putting me in a ton of debt! My degree allowed me the opportunity to grow as a person. I truly believe half of higher education learning is designed to build strength, perseverance and character.
She continues, “Local learning in an environment where you are a person and not a number is wonderful! NCMC has a lot to offer someone just exiting high school or someone who wants to go back after being away from higher education.”
Meagan, who recently won the Community Enthusiast Award at the Petoskey Chamber's 2018 Breakfast for Champions event, is a wonderful volunteer and supporter of our community. As she states, "I am purposeful in how I choose to spend my volunteer time as there are only so many hours to devote energy in the day: three areas of focus for me are kids, food and human resources. I do my best to ensure I have all three areas on my annual volunteer offerings."
Her volunteer work focusing on kids includes the Mother & Daughter Weekend and the Kayak for a Cause event at Camp Daggett. She also serves on the marketing committee for Camp. For her work supporting local and organic food and sustainable living, she serves as the board president for the Grain Train Natural Foods Co-op. She and her daughter, Piper, also volunteer one day per month at the Manna Food Bank. In her professional capacity, she serves as a member and past chair of the NMSHRM (Northern Michigan Society for Human Resources Management.)
Her advice to future students: “Spend time learning about you then go after whatever it is that makes your heart happy. Do it, whatever it is you’re going to do, because of your passion for the subject matter. I’m a firm believer that a two year degree is a non-negotiable to success because it provides you two more years of learning about yourself and the world. Be a learner of life and never give up; you really are only one decision away from your next success.”
Thank you Meagan for your passion for this community.
Michael Thomas, 1992
Michael Thomas believes in the art of story-telling. Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, graduating in 1989 from Newark High School in Newark, Delaware, he came to North Central from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1990. His parents had just moved to Petoskey, and he wanted to go to a smaller school, closer to home. North Central had the program he wanted (Associate of Arts with emphasis in English and Composition) and a great transfer agreement with larger schools. He just wanted to take care of his university requirements and obtain his associate degree.
Michael got much more than that. He found mentors in James McCullough, Larry Cummings and Tony Dunaske, and particularly appreciated the small class sizes and beautiful campus. “I highly recommend attending North Central Michigan College,” states Michael. “It’s both beneficial from a financial standpoint and educationally. You get a far better learning experience here than you’ll get from a larger university.”
Michael graduated from North Central in 1992 and transferred to Central Michigan University where he received his Bachelor of Applied Arts in 1995. Michael is currently the marketing director for Bay Mills Resort and Casinos in Brimley, MI, where he oversees the planning and operations for the marketing department, setting the brand and messaging for the property. He has also served as director of marketing at Little River Casino Resort and Diamond Jacks Casino Resort and as communications manager at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. “I approach marketing from a perspective of storytelling,” states Michael. “My coursework at North Central served as a foundation for that focus throughout my career and has served me well.”
Michael concludes, “Don’t limit your passions. Be excited about as many things as possible and never stop learning. Fill your head with as much stuff as you can. Even if your focus is accounting or nursing, take advantage of classes that flex your creative thinking. You’ll find it may help you with differing perspectives in any situation.”
Luke Datema, 2014
Luke Datema of Gaylord, came to North Central right after graduating from Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral High School in 2012. He received his associate of arts degree in 2014, and transferred to Cornerstone University for his bachelor’s degree in communications and audio production, where he graduated in 2016.
Luke currently owns a website design and drone photography/videography company named Datema Media. It is based in Gaylord, MI, but he works with clients across the state of Michigan. “Drone photography/videography offers clients a new, unique perspective for their websites. I often work with different real estate agents, land owners, and companies to create the most appealing promotional videos possible. To see more information, please visit datemamedia.com or visit the Datema Media Facebook page for weekly pictures and videos!”
“North Central was a huge part of my journey,” states Luke. “Without North Central’s affordable tuition, I would not have been able to attend college. If I had not gone to college, I would not have been offered the internships and jobs that helped me succeed. North Central worked with me and made sure my classes would transfer perfectly to where I was heading in the future. Without the college, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Nicholas Robbins, 2012
North Central to Google – An Alumni’s Path to Finding His Passion
Nicholas Robbins always wanted to work with computers. As he put it, “The nerd life chose me.” Interestingly enough, Nicholas’ path took several turns before ending at Google.
An Alanson native and graduate of Alanson High School, Nick was also a dual-enrolled student at North Central, taking courses offered at the high school. After graduating, he left for Fort Benning, GA to begin his Army National Guard career. As soon as he completed the initial entry training for the Army, Nick returned to North Central to pursue his passion for computers. “North Central offered an excellent IT program that allowed me to focus on computer networking and system infrastructure,” states Nick. “The campus location worked great for me to attend courses while still working full-time at Boyne Highlands Resort.”
Nick remained active National Guard while at North Central. “The military and VA have an extraordinary ability to complicate every process, to include the use of the Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bills. However, NCMC’s financial advisors ensured the process went smoothly and my GI Bill was applied successfully,” said Nick. “Later, I had course instructors who were understanding of military leave, which was appreciated. I actually missed my NCMC graduation as my unit was mobilizing to Afghanistan at the time.”
Nick also found friends and mentors at North Central. “I really liked the friends and professional network I gained while attending NCMC. From fellow classmates, to intramural competitors and teammates, to the knowledgeable faculty, I retained a lot of great contacts that I’ve kept in touch with over the years,” he states. He credits Sally Hunt, his Alanson High School business technology teacher, who guided him to further his education, and North Central instructors Fred Harrington, Hwee-Joo Kam and Howard Bates, who helped him sharpen skills and grow his career in computer technology.
Nick received an offer from Google with only his North Central degree and a few IT certifications. He has since completed a bachelor’s degree while working at Google.
He is currently employed as a Data Center Operations Engineer covering the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia region. His role is to deploy servers and network communications equipment that’s leveraged by various teams within Google. “I regularly work on equipment used by YouTube, Google Cloud, and other acquisitions like Nest and Waze. The latest large project I was involved with was bringing up services to support Google’s Project Stream. Additionally, I’m currently the Co-Lead for Recruiting and Staffing within our Veterans Network organization (g.co/vets) and am working with our staffing teams to assist transitioning veterans entering the workforce. It’s great to work at an organization capable of initiating and driving such positive change in so many areas, and I continue to learn new things every day. Also, yes it’s just like the movie The Internship and we have massage chairs, nap pods, and free meals.”
When asked what advice he’d give to students contemplating attending North Central, he replied, “Community colleges are a great opportunity to learn skills which make you employable, without the large school tuition. North Central has a great faculty with a small town touch that will enable you to progress in your career.” He adds, “Also the intramural basketball and other sports leagues are always a great time at the campus gym.”
Nick continues, “Find your passion. The overused quote about never working a day in your life when you enjoy what you do isn’t completely true, or Monday’s wouldn’t exist. However, working in a field you’re passionate about goes a long way and is the common trait I’ve found in every great IT engineer I’ve worked with. It makes it easier to continue to learn and develop your skills during the hours when you’d rather be watching Netflix, and those little things help separate good and great professionals in their field.”
Jerry Donnelly, 1966
I was very lucky to have North Central Michigan College available to me in the winter semester of 1964. I had wasted my scholarship at Central Michigan University by not carrying a 2.5 required GPA in the fall semester of 1963. It was one of those life-altering moments when your life changes directions. I immediately had to find a job and a college education at the same time. I was very lucky to find both in Petoskey. While staying at home and working delivering milk for the R&S Dairy from 4:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and then going to North Central from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday - I had to become very organized. I went to bed every weekday evening at 6:30 p.m., waking up at midnight and studying until 4 p.m. in the morning before going to work. I gained my associate degree in the summer of 1966 from North Central and transferred to Northern Michigan University. Someone was watching over me and helped me turn what could have been a negative situation into a life lesson of moving forward.
I received my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University during the spring semester of 1968 in secondary education. I spent the next 31 years as a teacher and administrator in the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools. Those experiences I learned in 1964 -1966 by supporting myself while attending North Central created a work ethic which has followed me to this day.
I have on several occasions since advised many of my former students to consider attending a community college. I repeat to them my personal history of my ties to North Central Michigan College. I encourage them to stay home and find out what college is like. While staying at home, working, and going to college classes you are given a chance not only to get credits towards a college degree, but find out if you really want to go to college. It is a very good testing ground for those who are wavering with this difficult choice. It is not only a safe choice, but a very good choice. I found out the hard way. I was very happy to have had North Central in my home town and my life. As Yogi Berra, famously said “When you find a fork in the road, take it.” I took mine and I have never regretted my choice.
Kendall Stanley, 1968
Born and raised in Harbor Springs, I am a graduate of Harbor Springs High School, class of 1966.
Like many headed to college graduates of area high schools I attended North Central from 1966-68, earning an AA degree. Back in those days the bulk of the students at the college were from local high schools and were taking a full load of courses throughout the day. There were a few night classes but mostly they were during regular “working hours.”
Many classes were held in the old Sheridan Elementary School at the corner of Howard and Sheridan streets. The cafeteria was also in that building.
The new classroom building opened for the 1967-68 school year and ultimately the Sheridan school was again used by the Public Schools of Petoskey.
After North Central I attended Central Michigan University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1970. Yes, you could get a college degree in four years back then!
My first job was managing editor of the Presque Isle County Advance in Rogers City from 1970 through the fall of 1971.
I then became managing editor of the Harbor Light in Harbor Springs for six years.
I joined the staff of the Petoskey News-Review in August of 1978 as a reporter. Over the years I was the wire editor, managing editor and for the last three years as editor.
I retired at the end of 2009, and find retirement the best job I’ve ever had.
Over the years it’s been wonderful to see the growth of the college and the expansion of its facilities. Back in the day it was small, tight-knit and felt like family. But the education was top-notch, something the students of today can say as well.
Mary Faculak, 1980
A Charlevoix native and resident, I am the proud third generation owner of our family farm, Lake View Ranch. I was born at the Charlevoix Area Hospital and attended and graduated from Charlevoix Public Schools.
After graduation, I attended North Central Michigan College and was enrolled in the Three Plus One Program with Lake Superior State University. While at North Central, I was very involved with the Student Senate where I served as secretary for three years. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and experience at North Central Michigan College. I was challenged and encouraged to reach for opportunities and goals that proved to have a positive impact on my future. The commitment and support of the faculty and staff was amazing. I earned my Associate of Arts degree and continued with my studies at Lake Superior State University. I also took classes at Central Michigan University with a focus on Public Administration.
In 1989, I purchased the E.J. Shoppe in East Jordan. Two years later, I accepted the Executive Director (now President/CEO) position at the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2001, I opened my second retail business, Mary’s of Boyne, in Boyne City.
As President/CEO of the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, I have been on an amazing life journey and in a rewarding career that allows me to be a part of and gain vast experience in economic development, community development, event production, public speaking, community promotion and marketing, meeting and retreat facilitation, leadership development and organizational management. No two days are ever the same in my world! Each day I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to work with engaged and sincere individuals. I am one of the co-founders of the C-48 The Breezeway Scenic Route Task Force, Paddle Antrim Inc., Leadership Charlevoix County Inc., and the Green Light East Jordan Business Competition.
I currently serve on the Little Traverse Conservancy Board of Directors (past chair) and am the chair of the LTC Land Protection Committee, I am the board chair of District 3 Michigan State University Extension Council, Paddle Antrim Board Secretary and am the President/Co-Administrator of Leadership Charlevoix County.
I feel so honored and appreciative to reside, work and be a part of the many exciting organizations and programs in our region! I truly credit my educational experience at North Central Michigan College as one of the building blocks in my career and accomplishments.
Gail Kloss, 1990
Feeling like you belong to something and that you have a ‘person’ in life is all anyone wants. In 1986, I started school at North Central Michigan College and it gave me both on the first day. I was in Mr. Verhelle’s class when he had the class go around and introduce themselves and tell an interest that we have. I was new to Petoskey, just moving here from downstate, and did not know anyone, but that introduction led me to what has become a 31-year friendship. I found my person and had a sense of belonging. I graduated with an associate degree and started working at Si’s Marina.
I started school again at North Central Michigan College to further my degree enrolling in a ‘three and one program’ with Lake Superior State University. I was able to take every class at the Petoskey campus while I continued working and raising a family. I earned a Bachelor’s degree.
At North Central Michigan College you feel important and the staff really cares about you and your success; teachers know each student and support them as they work towards a goal. Everything I have done in my career has brought me to where I am today. I am grateful for North Central as they are a community college that keeps the pulse of the community and continually updates programs in response to the needs.
Lorraine Manary, 1997
Lorraine Manary is the recently retired director of Char-Em United Way. A resident of Boyne City since 1990, Lorraine raised three children here; her youngest has Down Syndrome and remains in town, the other two have moved out of state. Lorraine is also a grandmother of two with another expected in Feb. 2018.
When not busy with her children, Lorraine worked as an independent contractor serving in the role of Collaborative Coordinator with the Char-Em Human Services Coordinating Body organizations for ten years. Among other things, she was involved in bringing the first Project Connect to our area, wrote a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Charlevoix and Emmet counties, and organized the first suicide prevention workgroup, which continues today. Lorraine owns NorthStar Consulting and has contracted with various for profit and not for profit organizations, working with them on board development, executive coaching and strategic planning. Lorraine served as the Executive Director of the Otsego County United Way for 2.5 years before joining Char-Em United Way in that role in 2013.
“I started at North Central when my children were in school and attended part time. My goal was to have a college degree before my children did, and I was able to do so. Three of us were in college at the same time for a while prior to my earning the Master’s Degree. During this time I was working part time, advocating and caring for my daughter Amanda (who has Down Syndrome), and caring for my older two children as they completed high school and started attending college.” Lorraine graduated with honors from North Central is 1997. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Arbor University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management, also from Spring Arbor.
Travis Mulhauser, 1998
In some ways, I grew up at North Central. My mom, JoAnna Kolodziej, has taught at the College since the late 70s. She started part-time, teaching nights, and I remember her taking me to class with her when I was little. I used to sit in the back with a coloring book or football cards to keep me occupied and I have fond memories of the warmth and generosity of her students and classrooms. Years later, as a student, I remember stopping by her office to see if she had any snacks in her desk - she usually did - and I remember her brightly painted walls filled with children’s artwork.
One of the most impactful teachers in my life was James McCullough. I took every class he taught and I’ve written a lot about his influence on me as a writer and a person. And there were many other teachers that helped ease me along and eventually graduate in 1998. Now I’m a writer and am proud to note that my first novel, Sweetgirl, (Ecco/Harper Collins) was long-listed for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, was a Michigan Notable Book Award winner in 2017, an Indie Next Pick, and named one of Ploughshares Best Books of the New Year. I am also the author of Greetings from Cutler County: A Novella and Stories.
I believe in the community college system because I’ve seen its impact in my own life and on others, and I am very grateful for my time at North Central. That’s why, whenever anybody asks me where I went to school I always answer the same: I am first and foremost a proud graduate of North Central Michigan College.
Travis lives currently in Durham, North Carolina with my wife and two children.
Jerome Rand, 2002
Growing up in Northern Michigan, Jerome Rand had a late start in the world of sailing. It wasn’t until the age of 18 that sailing became the main focus of his life. First teaching sailing on the small inland lakes and then venturing out on yacht deliveries from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. On one trip to the BVI he was introduced to the Bitter End Yacht Club and found himself working with the watersports center for the next 9 years.
It was during the last three years at BEYC that the pieces of a long-held dream started to take shape, to sail solo and nonstop around the world. On a small budget he purchased a 43 year old Westsail 32 and began the journey of a lifetime. The first year was spent fixing, breaking and fixing again anything that might be a weak point on the boat. In June of 2017 the boat, “Mighty Sparrow” was hauled out of the water and work began making modifications to endure the long trip ahead.
In October the boat was back in the water and weather window opened up to set out from Gloucester Massachusetts following a few nervous weeks watching hurricane Irma, Maria and then Jose storm through the Atlantic. On October 3rd Jerome Rand set sail aboard the Mighty Sparrow for what would be a 271 day sail and the adventure of a life time.
To reach home, the boat would have to cross the North Atlantic during the end of Hurricane season then cross the South Atlantic on the way to the stormy seas of the Southern Ocean near the Cape of Good Hope. From there it was South of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand on route to Cape Horn. Once around the Five Great Capes the boat turned North, heading for warm weather and a friendly ocean.
After two months of retracing the outbound track, on June 30 2018, the Mighty Sparrow sailed into Gloucester Mass after 9 months and 29,805 miles sailed. The journey tested every limit both mental and physical, from fierce winds to demoralizing calms, and everything in between. In the end it was perseverance and a bit of luck that would see this small boat through some of the world’s most dangerous seas.
Jenny Maginnis, 2003
Having grown up in Petoskey, I was lucky enough to find my way back to this beautiful area five years ago to work at a place that changed my academic and personal life. In 2003, I graduated from North Central with a new passion for education and a goal that one day I would return to the place that inspired me to be more.
There were many stops along the way, Michigan State University where I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and the University of Kentucky where I earned a doctorate in communication and new media. After completing my doctoral degree I took a job at Delta College near Saginaw, Michigan but I always longed to be back up north.
When the Communication faculty position opened at North Central I crossed my fingers that with my educational preparation and a little luck I would get the job. Everything aligned and here I am five years later back in the place that made me –well me.
My family is close by and I have an amazing husband that helps complete my life. Every day I feel so fortunate to be a part of a community that inspires people. My career is more than a job it is a part of my life –a part of my family. Each student is a member that although may only stay for a short time is one that I hope to inspire to be a better person and continue on his/her educational journey.
Dr. Jenny Maginnis is a Petoskey native who found her way back to northern Michigan after an educational journey that took her to Michigan State University for two degrees (bachelor’s and master’s) and the University of Kentucky for a Ph.D. in Communication and Social Media. Jenny is the Communication instructor, teaching courses in public speaking (beginning and advanced), interpersonal communication, nonverbal communication and social media.
Her belief in the empowering nature of communication guides her skill-based course design. Jenny believes in engaging students and giving them the communication skills to better manage their personal and professional relationships. About her students Jenny states, “They inspire me every day to go beyond just research based knowledge and seek out practical skills to help them deal with their daily communication.” The field of communication has changed significantly in recent years with the increase in social media. Jenny’s priority is in incorporating new media and its impact into day-to-day communication.
Marleah Dean, 2007
Marleah fell in love with learning at North Central Michigan College as a 16-year-old, dually-enrolled student. After graduating from North Central in 2007, Marleah pursued her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Michigan State University. There, she had the opportunity to conduct research with top researchers who opened up health communication to her, including research into breast cancer. Marleah's journey then led her to the University of New Mexico where she pursued her M.A., and to Texas A&M University for her doctorate. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Health Communication at the University of South Florida.
Marleah's love of learning has opened up remarkable doors. She has been given the opportunity to present her research at national and international conferences. She has been able to publish articles in top communication and medical journals and to teach classes in public speaking, nonverbal communication, group communication, interpersonal communication and health communication.
Kelly Suter, RN, MSN, MS Bioethics, 2008
Though I was born in Kalamazoo, Northern Michigan has played an important role in my family’s history for many generations and I consider Petoskey my home.
In 1986, my aunt became the first member of the family to graduate from North Central Michigan College’s nursing program. It has since become a family tradition with 13 other family members having graduated from the nursing program to date.
After graduating in 2008, I went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in nursing education and a master’s degree in healthcare bioethics. I have been an ER nurse for 10 years and have spent 8 of those years engaged in international disaster relief work including Cholera in Haiti, Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, war in South Sudan, post war rebuilding efforts in East Timor, flooding in Louisiana and Hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
North Central Michigan College provided the knowledge base and practical skills I needed to continue my education and provide life saving treatment and education to individuals in need around the world.
2019 American Association of Community Colleges Outstanding Community College Alumni Award
North Central Michigan College alumna, Kelly Suter (2008), will be honored by the American Association of Community Colleges as an Outstanding Community College Alumni. She and her two co-recipients are being recognized for the positive impact they have made on their communities, the nation and the world. They will be honored for their achievements at AACC’s 99th Annual Convention on Tuesday, April 16, in Orlando, FL.
Ben Slocum, 2009
I graduated from Petoskey in 2002 and started off and on at North Central while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. I decided that a community college was my best choice while I was deciding what I wanted to focus on for a major. In 2004 I had an accident that took me out of classes for several years and caused me to again question what I wanted to do for a living.
I found myself back at North Central in 2006, easing back into school, and in 2007, I decided to fully dive back in with a new focus. I pushed through the next two years graduating in the spring of 2009 with an AA before heading to Northern Michigan University to finish out a BS in English in 2012.
Later that same year I opened Beards Brewery with Peter Manthei, who I had met in a class at North Central several years before. Since then Beards has grown to a second production brewery in Charlevoix followed by a new location in downtown Petoskey in 2017.
Along the way I've found myself back at North Central in a variety of capacities. I taught an introduction to brewing class through the C.E.C. program for two years and finished an EMT-B license in 2016 through the college.
Andrew Boyer, 2011
Andrew Boyer of East Jordan will be the first to tell you that a college education matters. And it isn't just the discipline studied that makes a difference.
The craft beer scene was blossoming while Boyer was attending North Central Michigan College. A fellow student from North Central was an avid brewer who introduced the process of home-brewed beer to Andrew. Andrew began brewing immediately.
Andrew graduated from North Central in 2011, and continued his education at Lake Superior State University, studying social work. While at LSSU, Andrew was not only brewing, he was also malting small batches of red wheat from his family farm, Valley View Farm, in East Jordan. By 2015, Valley View Farm was growing malting barley, selling everything they didn’t use to malt houses, who then sold it to microbreweries. By 2016, they converted their milking parlor into a small malt house, and decided to sell their malt directly to Short’s Brewing. "At the time, we were still drying our malt on homemade screens over a wood-fired kiln we built ourselves," states Andrew.
In October, 2016, Andrew, and his father, Jim, and uncle John, submitted an application to the GreenLight East Jordan business model competition. Business ideas or businesses that have been doing business for two years or less are eligible to apply for an opportunity to be one of seven finalists that will give a four-minute presentation to a panel of five judges and an audience of more than 200 guests. The top three winners, along with the “People’s Choice” winner, will receive cash awards to help with startup costs or to “grow” their existing businesses.
Judges in the 2016 GreenLight East Jordan business model competition awarded the malt house venture a grand prize of $10,000, with the Boyers also winning an invitation to a statewide GreenLight competition in March 2017 and an audience-choice prize of $500.
John (from left), Andrew and Jim Boyer operate Valley View Farm near East Jordan. Jim is holding a bag of barley processed in the farm’s recently added malt house.
"We ended up winning the competition," states Andrew. "I’m not a presenter by nature. My professors at North Central helped me develop my speech communications skills and cultivate the confidence it took to enter the competition. My thanks go to professor Carol Noël and North Central Michigan College."
Andrew continues, "We still remain a fairly small, family operation, consisting of my dad, my uncle, John, and myself, but we love what we do, and we couldn’t be prouder of the beers and spirits that are made with our barley and wheat." To date, Valley View's harvests have been put to use by Michigan breweries such as Beards, Short's and New Holland.
"It's fun to be able to supply the barley, and then go down to the local pub and have a beer made with your grain," Andrew said.
Katelyn Crittenden and Mary Beth Crittenden, 2015
Katelyn and Mary Beth Crittenden are graduates of Petoskey High School. Both sisters received the Martha Curtis Memorial Scholarship for nursing at North Central Michigan College and graduated in spring, 2015.
Mary Beth plans to go to work as a registered nurse, but will continue her studies to obtain a BSN. "Right now, I'd like to work in a neonatal intensive care unit of a pediatrics unit." Katelyn plans to work on her BSN and get a job in pediatrics or obstetrics.
When asked what inspired them to pursue a career in nursing, both agreed it was their family. "There are 14 members of our family (aunts, cousins, siblings and mother) who have graduated from the nursing program at North Central," Mary Beth said.
Cory Glomski, 2017
Cory Glomski is a very happy man, doing work that he loves in the city that he loves. Cory is originally from Cheboygan, but moved to Petoskey in 2000 and graduated from Petoskey High School in 2006. Upon graduation, he went to work as a butcher and a cook and enjoyed that job for 10 years. But it’s hard to get ahead if you are working in the service industry, so in 2013, he decided to attend college. He chose North Central Michigan College for the reasons many do – close to home, affordable and, most importantly, he could work while attending school. The College also had an IT program, and Cory’s goal was to become an IT support specialist.
It took him four years of working part-time and attending school part-time, but in 2017 he graduated with his associate of applied science degree in computer networking.
“I always thought that I would have to move away to a bigger city to get a good job in this field,” Cory admitted, “But I couldn’t have been more wrong!”
Cory found a job right away, right here in Petoskey. After doing an internship with Common Angle, an IT consulting firm and managed service provider, he was hired as a network technician. Now he spends his days troubleshooting networks, apps and setting up new equipment for clients.
Cory says, “My degree opened doors for me, and now I plan to stay here in Petoskey.”
Cory’s advice to anyone contemplating college, but especially the non-traditional student, “Invest in yourself with college. It makes you stronger when you commit yourself to something.” He says that attending North Central helped him grow as a person. “There’s so much that North Central does to help a student. It makes it pretty hard to fail.”