Hannah Beaudry | 25, of Elk Rapids graduated from NMC in 2015 and earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from Central Michigan University at the UC in 2018. She reckons she saved herself $90,000 in debt by choosing local.
“Completing my education at Northwestern Michigan College and the University Center through Central Michigan University has set me up for success,” said Beaudry, a third-grade teacher at Traverse City Christian Schools who is getting married this summer. “Entering the field of education with considerably less debt has taken a weight off my shoulders in an already taxing profession. I am thankful for a quality education while spending less money.”
Victoria Derks | earned her associate degree from NMC in 1989, before the University Center existed, and had to leave Traverse City for her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Since returning, she’s gone on to earn not one, not two, but three degrees from UC partners: a master’s from Michigan State and an education specialist and education doctorate from CMU.
“The UC allowed me to continue my education from TC. I doubt that I would have ever gone as far without the UC,” said Derks, principal at Cherry Knoll Elementary in Traverse City.
The Traverse City resident, 52, enjoys traveling with her family, especially to the U.P. and out west.
Megan Hancock | earned her associate degree from NMC in 2000. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2004 and a master’s degree with a reading specialization in 2011, both from CMU at the UC.
“It gave me the confidence and know-how to lead a satisfying and fulfilling 15-year teaching career,” Hancock, an upper elementary teacher in the Montessori program at Traverse City Area Public Schools.
Outside her classroom, Hancock, 43, owns a dog food company, Best Friends’ Kitchen. She consults with pet parents on healthy dog food choices, and cook for a handful of local dogs. She and her husband Chris have two dogs, Wallace and Oliver.
Stephen McDonald | of Elk Rapids graduated from NMC in 2001 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in education from CMU at the UC in 2009. He’s now a second-grade teacher at Lakeland Elementary in Elk Rapids.
“After completing my degree at the UC, I landed my dream job at our local elementary school, and was blessed to watch all of our children go through grades K-5,” said McDonald, 49. He and his wife Kristy McDonald, a business instructor at NMC, have three children, Harper, Sophia and Ian.
McKenzie Gallagher | of Suttons Bay earned her master’s in business administration with a focus on strategic management from Davenport University in 2011.
“As a new parent working full-time, taking night classes at the UC was the only way I could achieve my goal of obtaining my MBA,” Gallagher said. “It was through my studies that I was able to focus on my business plan for starting Rove Estate.”
The mother of four is now the proprietor of the winery perched on the highest point in Leelanau County. Rove Estate preserves the agricultural heritage of the land, part of her husband’s family cherry farm for 130 years.
Garrett Guffey | graduated from NMC’s Automotive Technology program in 2001 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business management from Davenport in 2003. He now owns and operates Guffey’s Automotive Service in Maple City.
“My University Center degree has helped me run and manage my own business for the last 14 years by giving me skills and information I would have otherwise been unable to achieve,” said Guffey, 41, a father of three who enjoys camping and traveling in the U.P. with his family.
Rachel Roman | graduated from NMC’s associate degree nursing program in June 2015 and from Davenport’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University Center just six months later.
“My degrees represent a fork in the road of my life — a stable career started and my entire existence has improved, from emotional well-being, financial well-being, and family stability and security to fun,” said Roman, 39, a mother of five.
Currently the lead RN care manager at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, she’s preparing to start her master’s program as the next step in her long-term goal of becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Abigail Smeltzer | graduated from NMC with an associate degree in flight technology in 2014 and went on to earn her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Davenport in 2017. She’s now a captain for Envoy Air, Inc., based at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
“My UC degree has and will afford me the ability to stand out among my colleagues. Airlines are looking for brilliant, stand up and motivated individuals to work in complex environments and to complete the mission safely,” says Smeltzer, 29, who enjoys traveling in her spare time. Here she is atop Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She’s crossed the Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. The Antarctic Circle is still on her list.
Lara Gavaldon | graduated from NMC in 2016 and went on to earn both a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University at the University Center in 2017 and a master’s of physician assistant studies in 2019. She’s now a family medicine physician assistant at Crystal Lake Clinic in Benzonia.
“My UC degree allowed me to complete my education and secure my dream job in the community that I grew up in,” says Gavaldon, 27, an animal lover who lives with her cats Bowser and Sunny and golden retriever puppy Iggy in Traverse City.
Rachel Warren | graduated from NMC in 2000 and went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Ferris at the University Center.
“My degree from FSU enabled me to pursue my passion of helping others achieve lasting change in their lives,” says Warren, 45, a mental health therapist in Traverse City who also enjoys writing and playing music, writing poetry and producing films and shows.