2012 Graduate Retools Skill Set for New Career

ACC is profiling graduates ahead of the May 11 commencement ceremony. Read a previous Q&A with graduate David Weaver here.

Name: Melissa Triece

Major: Biotechnology

Degree/Certificate: Advanced Technical Certificate

Hometown: Austin

Graduation is almost here. How do you feel?

2012 graduate Melissa Triece

I am ready to move on the next phase—working full time. I have been going to school part time while getting my youngest child off to college, and I feel I am more than ready to move on.

How long have you been at ACC, and what brought you here?

I have been going to school at ACC since summer of 2009. I originally started at ACC hoping to pick up a skill that would allow me to do a second stint with Peace Corps after my husband and I retire; I was a water resource engineer with the Peace Corps in 1982-85 and worked for a few years before stopping to raise my children. I went into ACC and did a skill and interest assessment to try and pick out a field to pursue.

I decided to do something that was in the medical field rather than going back to engineering and was originally interested in medical laboratory technology. I knew a lot of engineers who were having a tough time finding work but felt that anything in the medical field would be pretty solid. ACC seemed to have good programs in this area and good placement for their graduates.

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome to make it to graduation?

I had been out of school for so long that it was difficult to get back into the routine of being in school—going to classes, making time to study, etc. I’m also older than I was when I first earned my undergraduate degree, so I feel like my memory isn’t as good as it once was. I’ve had to really renew my study skills to retain all the information I need to know.

What helped you succeed at ACC?

ACC had good programs that could be finished in a reasonable amount of time and was very reasonable in terms of cost. As I have had several children going to college at the same time I was at ACC, I definitely appreciated the lower cost of ACC tuition.

I learned early on in my education to be very selective about professors/instructors and can definitely say that I have had some excellent teachers at ACC—very enthusiastic about their subject and very concerned about students and their understanding of the material. Overall, it has been a very positive learning experience for me.

What made you choose your field of study?

I like lab work and felt that medical lab technology was a good field, both in terms of being able to secure a job now as well as giving me valuable skills I could use later when my husband and I are ready to try another stint in Peace Corps. While I started the Medical Laboratory Technology Program, I took introductory chemistry and cellular and molecular biology. I remembered how much I liked chemistry, and I really was fascinated by biology, which I hadn’t had since high school many years before. One of my classmates in cellular and molecular suggested I check out the Biotechnology Program, so I did—and decided I preferred its class lineup. It has been a good choice for me, as I have loved many of the required courses, including most of the courses in biotechnology as well as genetics, microbiology, and cellular and molecular biology.

What are your plans for the future?

I am hoping to find an interesting job in my field and at some point when my husband and I feel the time is right, we would like to do another stint in the Peace Corps.

Could furthering your education be in the cards?

I believe that this will it be for my education. My goal now is to work in the biotechnology field for a few years. But you can never say never.

What’s the best thing about graduating?

No more homework!!!! I am looking forward to having weekends and evenings for myself again. Also, I am hoping not to have such long commutes. This semester has been tough with a 35 mile one way commute from Oak Hill to RRC.

Who is really proud of your accomplishment? (Besides you, of course!)

I think my husband and friends are proud of my accomplishment. To go back to school after being home with the kids for twenty years is quite a readjustment!! And it’s good to know that I can compete academically with a much younger set of students.

What advice would you give to the next class of ACC students?

Just to keep at it and try to focus on the end point. Also, I would definitely recommend students check online professor and class review forums; I think it makes all the difference in the quality of your educational experience. And although I did not use many of the resources available for tutoring, I would definitely encourage students to take advantage of all the resources available.

What’s going to be going through your mind when you cross the stage on May 11?

Relief, joy, and an unbelievable sense that I finally did it!!

For more information about graduation, click here or contact the graduation office at graduati@austincc.edu. Check out the latest President’s Podcast for Dr. Rhodes’ thoughts on graduation.

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