Returning To College Brings Unexpected Success & New Direction

William Passarelli, a father of two and working full-time at a steel mill in Wallingford, knew he needed to go back to school as his company started to downsize. Already familiar with MxCC, having taken classes here before, Passarelli decided to return for a degree that would help him change careers for a better future for his family.

�I just like the school. It was close, with a learning center right in Meriden, online classes, flexible schedules,� he said. �It was convenient, it was economical � it was a great fit.�

At Middlesex, he pursued the business administration degree pathway program with UConn in hopes of finding an easier transition to a new career. Team-oriented class work, with presentation and public speaking requirements really helped him learn to work with others.

�I really learned how to put something together and present it. Besides the education, the most I got out of my experiences at MxCC was more confidence in myself,� he said. �The faculty really impressed me, Patty Raymond never gave up on me. She pushed me and always kept in contact, presenting new avenues for me to pursue � and, because of that I became president of PTK, was nominated for the All-USA Team and earned a divisional award as well.�

In 2009, Passarelli received the Business Administration Award, the Altrusa Club International of Middletown Scholarship, the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship and the MxCC Faculty Scholarship. He was also recognized among elite academics in Who�s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges 2008-09 and was the only achievement award recipient to also receive multiple scholarships.

�William Passarelli is the example that needs to be followed by others. He sets his own standard when it comes to academic achievement, service to community, authentic leadership and collaborative team work,� says Patricia Raymond, an assistant professor in the business division. �He does it all with the highest quality. There is no margin of error when it comes to his work ethic. William is truly an inspiration and he motivates others to achieve astonishing endeavors. He has all the necessary skill sets to succeed in the business world. I am thrilled with all that William has accomplished. He is truly remarkable.�

Passarelli plans to finish his degree at UConn and pursue a future career combining his passions for finance, technology and business management.

College Support, Experiences Help Student Choose Career Path To Help Others

When Erin Griffin set out to achieve a goal at MxCC � she did just that, and so much more.
Already armed with a bachelor�s degree in English and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and six years in Europe as an English teacher and translator, the Essex resident realized she wanted to help communities and underserved populations as a nurse. Middlesex Community College helped her get started and pointed her in the right direction, with many successes along the way.

�I re-evaluated my life and found I was interested in nursing. I got my CNA certification at Middlesex and later realized I wanted to change career paths,� said Griffin, a recent graduate from the General Studies program and recipient of the Susan M. Smart Memorial Scholarship.

At MxCC, the co-vice president of MxCC�s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society discovered her passion for helping at-risk populations, those who are uninsured and communities as a whole. This became clear especially as she worked on many PTK service activities, such as a youth book drive, clothing drives, canned food drives and more. �Doing something good to help others just felt amazing,� she said.

Griffin was recently accepted into the Second Degree Accelerated BSN Program at Fairfield University. When she�s finished, she�ll have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and will also be a Registered Nurse.

She chose Middlesex for the beauty of its location, but soon found the welcome she got from the faculty, staff and administration brought the help and encouragement she needed to succeed academically. Because of that support, she is considering a future as a professor of nursing someday.

�There was so much that Middlesex gave me. I wanted to give back also,� she said. �I�m very interested in public health, nursing and helping at schools and community clinics. I think eventually I�ll get a master�s degree in public health. I�m very passionate about helping others and advocating for certain groups in the community.�

Student Surprised at Level of Support For Career Changer

MxCC radiology student Marilyn Truglio-Kirwin had her bachelor�s degree but chose to work part-time locally while her children were in school. By the time they had college student loans and her husband got laid off � it was too hard to re-enter her technical field.

�I knew higher education was the way to go if I needed a good job in the future,� she said.

When she saw the MxCC booth and representative at a local event, Truglio-Kirwin learned she was exactly the kind of person for the radiology program. MxCC was very convenient and offered the support she needed to get through her nervousness while going back to school, she said.

�The campus is beautiful. It feels like a real college campus, plus I liked the small class sizes and the fact that there were older students like myself trying to get into health-related professions,� the Clinton resident said. �I made some really good friends who live nearby, so we set up a study group.�

Truglio-Kirwin looks forward to graduating next May, especially with help from a second-year student scholarship.

�It was really important to know that there was a possibility of getting financial help in the second year, especially since I had to quit my part-time job to attend school and also help my 89-year-old mother,� said Truglio-Kirwin, who received the MILE scholarship award this year. �It feels good to be back in school with a very specific goal. MxCC is so supportive and helpful.�

Student Reaches Beyond the Classroom in Return to College

When Amy Easterlin became dissatisfied with her teaching job, she knew she wanted to do something else. She looked back to her high school job with an optometrist office and started to research reputable are OD&D programs.

�I decided to enroll after talking to Ray Dennis,� she said. �Realizing that there were so many future opportunities opened to me really made me excited and I decided that this was what I wanted to do.�

Easterlin is the first college graduate in her family. Today she holds a bachelor�s degree in psychology, a master�s degree in elementary education and, with several years of classroom teaching experience, she chose to come to Middlesex where she just received an associate degree in Ophthalmic Design & Dispensing.

�I had a lot of experiences here that I don�t feel I had in bigger schools. I finally felt like I made the most of my education by working harder than I ever have before,� she said. �I was inducted into PTK, which showed me that hard work can pay off.�
Easterlin says she was impressed by the individual attention MxCC offered.

�My teachers all knew me by name and they really encouraged me to try hard and to try different things,� said Easterlin, who has been learning about contact lens fitting through a fellowship this year, and who represented MxCC as a competitor in the Vision Expo College Bowl.

After taking more risks in her college experience this time around, Easterlin learned some valuable life lessons at MxCC.

�It has made me realize that you can do whatever you put your mind to, at whatever age you decide to do it,� she says. �I learned to put more value on my education and it made me realize that I don�t want to ever stop.�

Easterlin�s future plans include a career in contact lens fitting, teaching in a college setting and possibly pursuing a Ph.D.