The Bahamas boast more than 700 islands, hospitable people, and year-round great weather. The only thing that was missing for Marcus Sands, Jr. was Northampton Community College. Last fall, when the opportunity to attend NCC literally fell into his lap, Sands voluntarily packed his bags and headed stateside – and hasn't looked back since.
"How I got to NCC is an interesting story," says Sands, who is studying hospitality management. "Former [retired] professor of psychology Craig Kilpatrick and his wife were vacationing at a home where I was working for a property management company. Through my connection with that rental property and its owner, I was introduced to the Kilpatricks, who talked to me a lot about the hospitality program here. I went to the website and started reading about NCC, and right away I saw that it was not an ordinary community college."
It's safe to say that nothing has been ‘ordinary' for Sands since his academic journey here began. The Kilpatricks opened up their home to him for his first semester, he qualified for a scholarship to help with tuition, he joined several clubs, started a job on campus, and is already looking forward to eventually attending a university in New York City. The Big Apple beckons, but not before Sands has made his mark on the school that he says changed everything for him.
"It blew my mind that here, at a community college, there are so many things students can get involved with," says Sands, who is currently serving as the vice president of Phi Theta Kappa (Honor Society), as member of Student Senate, and as the president of the Hospitality Management Club. "Northampton is just the total experience of academics combined with experiences that prepare you for your career and for the world outside."
Sands is a people person by nature and thoroughly enjoys working in a field that will prepare him for a career in the hotel industry, which is what he was doing before his chance meeting with the Kilpatricks. He spent two years between high school and college getting experience under his belt, working not only for the property management firm but also for a Bahamian tourism office and in real estate. The course work here is allowing him to gain additional skills in event planning and in culinary, which he knows will allow him to provide a well-rounded customer service experience.
"One of the things that I really advocate is customer service. That's what really drew me to the industry," says Sands. "There are a lot of opportunities out there and overall it's just the right fit for me."
With travel being one of the perks of the field, Sands has a big dream of one day not only working for a cruise line, but eventually owning his own – one he can use to bring people to see the islands he still calls home. But for now, Sands is focused on continuing to find his path at NCC, and doesn't forget the lessons taught to him by everyone he's encountered on his journey here.
"My professors and peers have the same vision that I do. It's all about looking at the bigger picture – the entire school – and providing more opportunities for networking, for leadership, and giving the students what they want. Everyone I've come across here has helped me sharpen my skills but they've also made me a better individual."
Name: Marcus J. Sands, Jr.
Projected Graduation Year: 2014