The second attempt at NCC has been the charm for Michelle Zattoni, a "non-traditional" student who blends right in and is otherwise a traditional student in every sense of the word. She is the treasurer for Students for Collegiate Professionalism and active member of Brother to Brother / Sister to Sister Organization. She works full time at Flex Razor and part time in both Student Life and at the Hampton Winds restaurant. She is holding a fashion show to teach her fellow students how to meet the external expectations of their professors and future employers. She wants to help more of her peers obtain scholarships. She is here, she says, not just for her own benefit, but also for the benefit of others.
"One of my main goals is to open up doors for people who don't know how to get them open. As a student in higher education, especially an older student, you're here to learn, but you're also here to help people," Zattoni says of the college experience. "If you have information that can help someone, why not share it so others can have an easier time?"
Zattoni being back and thriving at NCC is proof that a helpful word can go a long way. She started here as a student back in 1998, but she had a difficult time adjusting to college and adult life, which made it difficult for her to concentrate on her studies. She moved to Atlanta to build her career, but ended up back in the Lehigh Valley several years later for family reasons. In 2012, she had a great job at UGI but was struggling to advance without having a degree under her belt. She enrolled at NCC a second time, but it was again proving to be difficult. That's when then-NCC vice president Mardi McGuire-Closson stepped in with some words of advice.
"The reason I came back here was actually because of Mardi. I told her how I'd signed up for classes and how difficult it was to go to work and school at the same time," says Zattoni. "She said, flat out, that I needed to make up my mind about what I wanted to do. I could either, go to school and be successful at it, or I could be stuck in the same situation and complain about it forever. That's when I took her advice and decided to organize my life and come back full force."
It's been a ride for Zattoni since she dedicated herself to hitting the books. She originally pursued a business major, but has since decided to learn more of the technical side of the engineering project management. She switched her major to Individualized Transfer Studies with the intent of pursuing the Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies degree at Penn State University upon transfer. Eventually, she wants continue her career in project management hopefully in the development and management of water and sewer resource projects.
"I feel like if I had tried to do this back in 1998, I would be miserable now; mainly because like a lot of people, I originally didn't take the time to figure out exactly what I planned to do with my degree," says Zattoni. "There are so many resources at NCC now, compared to when I first attended. I feel like it's a really important component to being a successful student here."
Name: Michelle Zattoni
Program Major: Individualized Transfer Studies
Projected Graduation Date: Spring 2015