Russell, Mass. Grew up in Easthampton.
Receiving manager, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Hatfield; spent eight years in the Marines, from 2001 to 2009, serving in Iraq.
I'd like to say it was a psychology class but so far the art classes are the ones that have really opened my mind up to my creative side. I didn't even know I was artistic before I took a Basic Drawing class with Ray Larrow. I've just absoutely loved my painting classes. I'm taking Painting II now with Dean Nimmer. Art has really opened my eyes and showed me that I can be more than just a facility manager, that I can produce something that didn't already exist in the world. I've put a little art studio in my house and plan to study art therapy.
When I came back to HCC in 2012 as a Fresh Start student, I hadn't taken a college class in 20 years. I'd also spent eight years in the Marines. The first person I met was Cindy McDonald. At the time she was the new coordinator of New Directions and Veterans Services. She was very supportive and encouraging. She said, 'You veterans, you tend to do very well. You've performed under pressure and stress. You'll succeed." It really lifted me up.
Education matters to me because there's always something more to learn. You can never know enough. The more you know, the more you can help others. You feel better about yourself. It gives you confidence.
I'd say the faculty. I haven't had one professor who wasn't willing to bend over backward to help me succeed. They'd stay after class to answer questions, break things down from the textbook and explain it in layman's terms. That's been most helpful to me.
Take advantage of the faculty. When I was a student 20 years ago I was intimidated by the professors. I thought they were so smart they were almost not human. But they're just people, and they wouldn't be in this profession if they didn't want to help people. So, seek them out, pick their brains. That's why they're here.
I'm enrolling in the Elms College weekend bachelor's degree program at HCC to study psychology. From there I intend to go to Springfield College for a masters degree in art therapy and then get my doctorate in clinical psychology. My goal is to work with veterans with PTSD.