(left photo, from left) QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja, Ifeanyi Nwachukwu and Kathy Rentsch, (right photo) Andrew Jubinville

In December 2023, QCC Dean of Math & Science Ben Benton and Acting Dean of Business, Engineering & Technology (now Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs) Kathy Rentsch announced that 27 QCC students were recognized as STEM Students of the Fall 2023 Semester. In February’s Wyvern Newsletter we profiled half of these students. We are pleased to highlight the other honorees his month. Some students also provided stories of their journeys on the road to achieving student success. Congratulations to all!

Jonathan Kimball - selected by Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor Dadbeh Bigonahy, who wrote, “Jonathan is an Engineering major. He is a motivated, intelligent, hard-working, polite, well-disciplined, studious, considerate, talented, mature, and active student.”

In sharing his story, Jonathan wrote, “As a very affordable college, I felt that my prerequisites would be best settled here at QCC, as opposed to a private college that would charge substantially higher. It was also a great place to get a feel for college life and the many diverse learning modules, since I decided to start my major the same year as my high school graduation. I am actually quite fond of more than just one area! The three that are currently the most interesting to me are the study of light (photonics/optics/particle physics), biomimetics (being able to create technology based off of the fascinating systems found exclusively in nature), and aerospace (combining elements related to particle physics and space travel in order to move objects at extremely fast speeds and/or exploring space more efficiently).

I am determined to develop new creations and build on ideas that have never really been touched on before. In terms of my career path, I am planning on utilizing my ideas based on the areas of interest that were stated above and either execute them through the industry or create my own pathway depending on the circumstances. I may also see music as another portion of my career since it’s been a key point of interest since day one.

As someone who turns to a lot of thrills and insights, I enjoy traveling/exploring, skiing/snowboarding, hiking, sports, working out, driving, amusement parks, conceptualizing new ideas and much more. I am also a massive fanatic for music and songwriting and enjoy indulging with it whenever I get the chance.

As someone who tends to combine my personal philosophies with science, I was always interested in exploring (understanding and appreciating) the furthest limits of the physical/theoretical world around us. It was only a natural choice for me to turn to a major that promotes such a vast knowledge of related elements and build on what we already know in an effort to apply these interesting concepts towards our everyday lives. In many cases, I’m already thinking along these terms in my personal lifestyle, as I feel that it may ultimately allow me to appreciate the smallest steps that are required to accomplish any task or activity!"

Nohemi Medina Otero – selected by Computer Information Systems Professor Robert Knox, who wrote, “Not only does Nohemi hold the highest GPA between both of my sections of the course, but she is taking the class in a blended format, which is quite a challenge. Perfect attendance, 100% of all submissions on time and high quality, and she exhibits excellent problem-solving skills and a desire to go one step further in the hands-on labs. In addition to this academic performance, she was a long-time employee of Youth Services, an extremely challenging career, but one that takes a special kind of person. I am attempting to convince her to change her major from a certificate to an associate degree as she will prove an asset to any employer.”

In telling her story, Nohemi wrote, “I’ve been with my husband, Alex, for over 20 years. We’re high school sweethearts and we have two beautiful daughters named Lilliana and Rosalyn, ages 10 and four, respectively. I am a bit creative and like to draw or paint and have lots of crafting projects. I also do party decorations like balloons and piñatas, and I also like to bake cakes, pies and bread, all from scratch! I have a lot more time now to do all of that now that I don’t work.

There wasn’t a time that I didn’t have a job since I was about 14 or 15 years old until I was 21 years old and started working for the Department of Youth Services where I worked for over 13 years and was then terminated in 2021 due to the COVID-19 situation. After some time, I found myself a very different job in a medical office as a Home Health Aide Supervisor, but after working for that company for about five months or so the company closed, and I found myself jobless again! I was not amused but I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason!

During my time without a job, I would think about furthering my education and an aunt of mine encouraged me to apply to Quinsigamond Community College. After 18+ years of not being in school I was officially enrolled into QCC! I was very apprehensive to say the least.

When I enrolled at QCC, I became aware that there were so many career paths I could choose from, but I kept being drawn to the CSET options and eventually chose the Help Desk Technician Certificate. Once I started my classes and got to know my professors and they got to know me, I took the advice of my Computer Hardware professor, Professor Knox, and changed my major to SEIT- Enterprise Information Technology where I then plan on transferring to a 4-year college to get my bachelor’s degree. 

So far, being back in school after graduating high school in 2005, hasn’t been bad at all!”

Truc Tran - selected by Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor Dadbeh Bigonahy, who wrote, “Truc is a Biomedical Engineering major. She is a motivated, hard-working, well-disciplined, polite, reliable, conscientious, intelligent and cooperative student.”

In telling her story, Truc wrote, “During my high school years, my aunt was already a student at QCC. Upon my graduation, I was uncertain about where to begin my higher education. It was then that my aunt suggested QCC, attesting to its quality of education, eventually persuading me to select it as well. Once I began classes at QCC, I was immediately drawn to its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making me feel at ease. Currently, I am working towards a degree in medical engineering, a field that I have developed a passion for, largely due to my father's influence. He was a respected engineer, whose accomplishments fueled my interest in this field. In my spare time, I find solace in immersing myself in a good book or losing myself in music, activities that provide me with a sense of tranquility and relaxation.”

Vamsi Margapuri - selected by Biology Professor Shanna Cawley, who wrote, “Vamsi has put in a lot of effort into BIO 106. His participation and thought-provoking questions make lecture more enjoyable for the class. In the lab, he is a strong lab partner and thoroughly completes all activities carefully and with detail. If Vamsi continues to apply himself and take advantage of resources on campus, he will be a great success.”

In telling his story, Vamsi wrote “As a child, both of my parents were doctors, so biology was naturally something that interested me. Exposure to these things at a young age not only sparked my interest in biology, but it also made me deeply want to help others, just like my parents do every day. At first, I thought I would follow a similar path and become a doctor. But as my academic journey went on, I came across psychology. It was like a whole new world had opened up for me. I was fascinated by how biology and human behavior are connected in so many complex ways. This discovery led me to major in psychology, as it offered a unique blend of my love for biology with the profound desire to understand and aid the human mind. I changed my goal from becoming a regular doctor to becoming a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I would be able to use my love of biology and mental health to help people in a very direct and powerful way.

The few times I'm not studying hard or figuring out the complicated world of psychology, my part-time job in pathology at UMASS Medical School actually makes me feel better. I help with assays, which isn't your average student job. I get to explore the microscopic world that tells stories much bigger than themselves. Finding pleasure in what most people would call 'work' is strange but it is something that satisfies my very curious mind.

I love going for long drives, especially when the sky is cloudy and makes for a great background for thinking or blasting my favorite music to go along with the calm views. Then there's the time I spend with my friends, which we usually spend in a movie theater or someone's living room, lost in movies that make us bond over popcorn and argue about the plot after the credits roll. I also like to go to the gym and work out burning all that stress into strength. So, even though my free time might mix work and play, it's a mix that makes me happy.”

Students who were recognized for Fall 2023, and who did not share their stories include:

Andrew Galicki - selected by Computer Information Systems Professor Gargi Chug, who wrote, “I am excited to share that Andrew is a pleasure to work with as a student. I have witnessed his exceptional dedication, talent and passion for the academics in the class. Andrew stands out not only for his academics, but also for his soft skills especially the discipline that he brings in. What truly sets him apart is his ability to stay focused, grasp the subject matters and his willingness to help others in the class. Moreover, Andrew possesses a high-level of work ethic and consistently goes above and beyond what is expected. He enjoys golf and he picked it up so well that within two years of his exposure to golfing, now he plays like a pro. I am confident that he will do great for the rest of his academic journey at QCC and beyond!”

Andrew Jubinville - selected by Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor Dadbeh Bigonahy, who wrote, “Andrew is an engineering major. He is a persistent, determined, hardworking, mature, well-disciplined, motivated, polite, intelligent and cooperative student.”

Augustin Anon - selected by Physics and Astronomy Professor My Nguyen, who wrote, “Augustin is a student in my PHY 107-01 class. He is a hardworking student with a strong work ethic. What makes him stand out in my class is his commendable growth mindset, resilience and dedication to studying. He showcases a positive attitude when facing challenges and difficulties, and actively engaging with discussion. He also actively volunteers to help with other science activities.“

Brandon Gouveia - selected by Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor Dadbeh Bigonahy, who wrote, “Brandon is an intelligent, hardworking, well disciplined, polite, mature, conscientious and goal-oriented student, who has transferred to a bachelor’s degree program at UMass Lowell.”

Brenda Phan - selected by Computer Information Systems Professor Gargi Chug, who wrote, “I am very excited to share that I have had the opportunity to observe Brenda's exceptional learning capabilities in the class. Just to share a bit more, Brenda has spent her time working hard, providing for and taking care of her family. She has worked in the non-technology field throughout her life so far. When she started the class, on the very first day, she was extremely frustrated; her login wasn't working, and she had no idea what to do next. She kept saying, 'I want to enjoy my learning but this is very hard and frustrating.' However, two qualities stood out during class time - the determination and desire to learn. Immediately after starting, she took the help of a tutor and office hours, and soon, she was able to do all the projects by herself. Brenda is always happy to lend a helping hand to her peers. She did an excellent job in her presentation during the class. Today, she is enjoying her learning and taking pride in joining QCC for further education. Brenda is a perfect example of 'persistent efforts triumph.' She had put in the effort, took help from the student services and faculty, and she was able to overcome the obstacles. I am confident that Brenda will take the education that she is receiving here at QCC to the next level in shaping the future.”

Ifeanyi Nwachukwu - selected by Engineering / Biomedical Engineering Program Coordinator and Professor Dadbeh Bigonahy, who wrote, “Ifeanyi is an Engineering major. He is a hard-working, motivated, studious, polite, well-disciplined, diligent, intelligent, mature and dedicated student.”

Joseph Vaudreuil - selected by Physics and Environmental Science Professor and Natural Science Coordinator Anita Soracco, who wrote, “Joe is an exemplary student in the environmental science program. Joe is committed to helping our planet by becoming an environmental scientist and has persevered through a challenging curriculum. Despite math not being his favorite subject, Joe has put in the hard work and succeeded in his math courses and is more motivated than ever.”

Kyle Mendoza - selected by Chemistry program Coordinator and Professor Hirul Patel, who wrote, “In spite of some struggles, Kyle has always shown his dedication and sincerity towards his education. He is focused, enthusiastic, helpful and highly respectful towards others. With this dedication and positive attitude, the sky is the limit for Kyle's growth in the field of his desire.”

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