Nashua Community College
Associate in Applied Science, Marketing, 1994
Not all educational paths are straight lines, and Laurie Berna’s illustrates how success can be attained through second chances.
“I was a very hands on, creative person who was turned off at the idea of following the traditional path of enrolling into college right after high school, so I did what any kid would do, and rebelled. I wanted so badly to be an adult. At the age of 18, I moved out of my parents’ house and moved to the NH seacoast area.”
A few years later, and now with a 5-year-old child, Laurie knew that the time had come for her to focus – not only for her future, but her son’s as well.
“I needed to slow down and reevaluate the choices that I have made. My family welcomed me back into their home and with my newfound structure, I was ready to start my college education. I learned that Nashua Community College had a program called Project Redirection that was specifically focused on supporting single parents. It was perfect for me.”
Through NCCs Project Redirection program, Laurie had support staff that would guide her along the way. Pell grants that were available to her through this program would also help her with the cost of her education.
“We had a real support system at NCC. The single parents also supported one another and really created a form of family that would stick together, encouraging one another to continue on with their education so everyone could successfully get to the finish line. It was a wonderful thing really.”
The instructors at NCC encouraged Laurie and her classmates and offered help and advice along the way.
“The faculty were incredibly supportive and went out of their way to help us. They had a huge impact on me. Many of them actually ended up becoming my dear friends.”
The foundation of Laurie’s future was built at NCC – from her education, career, friends and ultimately a relationship with an NCC alum whom she’d eventually marry.
“For someone who was a C student in high school, I finally realized my true potential when I started going to college. I became the student body vice president and graduated at the top of my class. I realized so much about myself during that time, and even met the love of my life at NCC – he was a student in the aviation program, and we graduated the same year.”
When Laurie graduated from NCC with an Associate in Applied Science in Marketing, a position opened up at the college that caught her attention. She applied and was soon hired to work in the Business Office where her education and can-do attitude helped her rapidly advance.
“Shortly after my first position at NCC, I moved up within the business office, working in accounts receivable, then as a senior accountant and in several other positions that centered around accounting. I’ve worked in nearly every position in the business office!”
Today Laurie serves as NCCs interim Chief Financial Officer and has been with the college for over 25 years.
“NCC can be such a huge experience for students. It’s a place where you will learn to value your true potential and it will open doors for you. Many, like me, truly find themselves while at NCC. I got so much out it. I found my whole life there and can’t image where I’d be today if not for NCC.”
Because we all love a romantic ending, we asked Laurie to tell us more about meeting her husband at NCC.
“I remember seeing him in the atrium of the college. He had salt and pepper hair and I instantly noticed him when we were both students but didn’t have the courage to approach him. A year and a half later, my very best friend at NCC at the time, who is now sister in law, and I were getting ready to graduate and I kept making comments about how cute I thought the man with the salt and pepper hair was. For so long I had wished that he’d ask me out. I finally had the courage to ask him out and thank goodness I did. We’ve been married for 25 years!”