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Education is a Game Changer for New Alumnus

June, 2020
  • QCC Alumnus Bobby Kapel
    QCC Alumnus Bobby Kapel

Bobby Kapel knows the value of an education. Before emigrating from Liberia, West Africa in 2012, Mr. Kapel taught high school students in a time when there was great civil unrest. Teaching in his home country would become a pivotal point in his life and one that he would do until moving to the States to realize his own dream through higher education.

“Liberia was a post war country with limited resources for teachers and students. On many occasions I had to improvise for my class because school administration and the department of education were unable to provide the necessary resources and accommodations for students and teachers,” he said, knowing he was making a positive impact on the lives of his students and their futures.

He continued with his teaching until coming to the U.S. in 2012, living first in Pennsylvania before moving to Worcester in 2016 and working in the human services field. In 2017, he came to Quinsigamond Community College to realize a dream of furthering his education and bettering his future.

 “I met many friends at work and my community who gave me a lot of positive feedback about QCC. Based on that, I decided to take on the next chapter in my life to attend college,” he said.

It was during his first visit to QCC that he met Enrollment Counselor Eduardo Rivas.

“I first met Bobby last year in the Admissions office. I helped him with his admissions process and referred him to Gilmarie Vongphakdy (coordinator of the Future Focus program) as a good candidate for the Future Focus program. I also referred him to different offices such as the career office to get prior learning credit (he obtain prior learning for multiple classes) and the mentoring program,” Mr. Rivas said.

“QCC support services helped me reach my academic goals and careers goals. With the many support services available at QCC, I was able to take advantage of each and they help make my learning process easier,” Mr. Kapel said.

One support service that was instrumental for him was QCC’s mentoring program, where he met his mentor Kevin Campbell, the person who he considers his role model.

“I admire Kevin for his service in the Army and also his service in the community. He is always willing and available to help,” he said.

While Mr. Kapel did not qualify to apply for FAFSA due to his current status in the U.S., finances have not stopped Mr. Kapel from pursuing his education. He has been working full-time overnight to help pay for his education and was able to get funding from the Future Focus program for some of his classes.

“I met Bobby last summer, as a referral from Eduardo. From my first meeting with him, I instantly felt his passion for education and his dedication. He works overtime hours to offset the cost of classes, and seeks avenues and other resources available to him,” said Ms. Vongphakdy, adding that he also volunteers his time working with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free tax preparation program.

For many people, balancing work, school and home life can be extremely difficult, but Mr. Kapel says it is all about time management.

“Time management is the answer to everything. I have to exercise time management because work, school and home life are all important things to consider, knowing how the three are related. Through work, I am able to take care of my financial responsibilities at school and home. I also have some extra time at work to attend to my schoolwork,” he said. “There is always time available to do a little of everything.”

In May, Mr. Kapel graduated from QCC with a General Studies degree. He is headed to Assumption College this fall, where he plans to major in Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies. He is also taking a summer course at QCC that he will transfer to Assumption to save money.

“I always want to help others and educating myself is the best way forward. My future goal is to obtain a degree in Human Service and Rehabilitation Studies and pursue my master’s degree in any human service-related field. I want to be able to help others. I find helping others a good way of giving back to my community, my school and country where I am residing,” he said.  “I also want to put aside enough time to volunteer in my community and school. Getting my degree and finding the right job will help me accomplish that.”

He encourages others to try QCC and said it is the best place to begin on your career.

“The hardworking, friendly and knowledgeable faculty and staff are always willing to help any time. Make the move and attend QCC, it will be your best decision ever.”