Jason Toncik, HVAC/R Student

When Jason Toncik graduated from NCC in 2009 with a degree in computer programming, he went to work for a Lehigh Valley company that ultimately outsourced their local jobs. After only two years of working in his field, he was faced with the prospect of unemployment unless he decided to go search for a similar job in a big city. Thanks to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, Toncik was able to return to NCC and enter into a fast-tracked HVAC and refrigeration technology course that will help him get back to working in an industry that he's been trained for.

"I knew what Northampton would be like from my first time here, but since then I've realized that you have to go for a job that's in demand but also something that you like and can see yourself doing," says Toncik. "You don't want to go for something that sounds fun but might not be in demand. I like the hands-on aspect of this career, and thanks to the [Trade Adjustment Act] grant, we have access to a lot of resources and have a lot of tools at our disposal."

Toncik is also among the rare hybrid of students who is not only part of the Trade Act program, but was able to complete most of his general education courses through Northampton's online learning program. Completing courses online was beneficial for him, Toncik says, because he was able to pace himself through the work without needing the additional classroom guidance. Now that he's in the classroom for the courses that are the core of his program, Toncik is taking advantage of small class sizes and having peers of all ages.

"The classes are small and it's a bit more relaxed. I've already met a lot of cool people in this program. Mostly everyone in these classes helps everyone else out and it's actually really diverse," says Toncik. "Plus a lot of the teachers I have currently work in the field or have worked in the field."

Toncik hopes to get back out in the career field working as an in-house repair technician for a large company, and the Nazareth native would prefer to remain in the Lehigh Valley for work. Thanks to the Trade Adjustment Act, his second go-around at Northampton has enabled him to appreciate the value of his education.

"I wouldn't have gone somewhere else," says Toncik. "Here, I'm able to get an education that was affordable for me in a more relaxed environment."

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