The Right Start, The Right Connections
UCC graduate lands satisfying career in his field of study.
Tom McNamara was guest speaker at this year’s Explore Engineering & Computing event. He was kind enough to provide an interview.
What was your background before attending UCC?
After graduating from high school in Days Creek, I attended Western Oregon State College. Unfortunately, I had to drop out after two terms due to family circumstances and certain life choices. Needing a job, I went to work in the lumber industry; first at C&D Lumber Company for 12 years, then Glide Lumber and Roseburg Forest Products Engineered Wood Products. I was trying to find something that would get me out of the mills and off shift work when North River Jet Boats offered me a position. They soon had a major reorganization of the company, and I was once again looking to make a change. My wife, a UCC employee, convinced me it was time to finally get an education. With her help, I registered at UCC the next morning. That decision changed my career and my life.
What program did you graduate from and what led you to that?
In 2010, I graduated with an AAS degree in Civil Engineering, and immediately went on and got my AAOT. The Survey/Engineering program interested me primarily because it has a wide variety of career paths that pay a decent wage, and I hoped that degree would allow me to work in the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
What was the favorite thing, person, or service that you liked while you were at UCC?
Whether in Financial Aid, Registration, or Advising, classified staff was always ready to take time to help me get through whatever issues arose and helped to answer all of my questions. The instructors at UCC have an amazing way of letting a student grow and develop.
The key to my success as an honors student was the group of fellow engineering students I paired up with almost immediately. Working together daily on not only engineering class homework, but core subjects, friendships were made that will last the rest of my life.
Did any UCC staff have a positive effect on you?
UCC’s Survey/Engineering staff set me on an amazing career path. To start the ball rolling, they gave my name to Tim Moore, with the Roseburg BLM. That contact helped me land a summer Cooperative Work Experience position with the BLM office in Coos Bay. After graduation, I was offered a very nice job at the Roseburg BLM office. For the first time in my life, I have more than just a job; I have a career in which I have advanced 5 times in the last 4 ½ years. I love what I do and am so glad I made the decision to return to college in my forties. It wasn’t easy, my family and I made huge sacrifices along the way, but it was so worth it!
What words of advice can you give to future UCC students?
I would recommend UCC to all high school seniors that have uncertain career goals. Students that may not have had the best study habits in high school and now want to get serious about school can be successful at UCC without having to spend as much as they would at a four-year school.
Take advantage of study groups. My study group looked at going back to school as a full time job. We met early in the morning and would stay at the school for most of the day. UCC was great at accommodating all our needs, from allowing us to check out class rooms, studying in the cafeteria, or using tables in the student lounge. I would also encourage students to take advantage of the Success Center for tutoring and other assistance.
Students need to get themselves involved in activities that will allow them opportunities to observe/work in the field that they are studying. Not only do these opportunities provide skills they can apply towards their career; but, when you put yourself out there, opportunities have a way of presenting themselves.
Photos: Tom McNamara (Top & Right) Credit: Tom McNamara
Clay Baumgartner – Contact
Chair, Associate Professor, Engineering/Surveying & CIS
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