It was ten years ago when Gary Gendron hurt his back while on the job as a truck driver. He found himself in a life-changing position. After working with the injury for more than six years, he had to have his spine fused, and his doctor told him that he would have permanent restrictions that would prohibit him from continuing his career as a Class A driver.
Now, at 46 years of age, Gary reflects on how he had been 13th in his class in high school, had gone to college at Florida Southern College, but never completed his degree. He said he was not successful at that point because he felt bored in the classroom and loved doing physical work, not working at a desk. He worked in EMS and as a medical technician in an emergency room and urgent care setting before he chose to become a truck driver for his career.
Following his back injury and a considerable amount of physical therapy, his doctor told him that he needed to change what he did for a living and select a job that would have him working in an office, with no physical labor required. He then began to work with Worker’s Compensation and received vocational rehabilitation counseling.
He realized the help he received from Worker’s Compensation was going to play a key role in determining what he should choose for his new career. “I was always good with numbers,” he said. After thinking about what he would be strong and successful at, he enrolled at Asnuntuck Community College to obtain his Associate’s degree in Accounting. He has three courses remaining and is expecting to graduate from Asnuntuck in the spring of 2022 to achieve his goal.
He said he would like to continue his education at Western New England University and is hoping to earn his degree there, after two additional semesters and a summer semester.
He has a 4.0 GPA at Asnuntuck, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and credits Asnuntuck Professors Cheryl Turgeon, Joe Gervascio, and Jim Wilkinson, along with Career Services Advisor Cat Carter and Jill Rushbrook, who formally led the college’s CASA offices, with their guidance through this part of his education. He gained perspective by writing in a journal, which he shared with his academic advisor, Heidi Fitzgerald, during his internship while at Asnuntuck.
“Gary was initially a student of mine in CSA135, Spreadsheet Applications,” said Professor Cheryl Turgeon. “He attended my virtual hours almost weekly for course questions or just to chat about career goals and his future educational plans.” She added, “Because another class he wanted to take was canceled, he enrolled in my CSA145 Database Fundamentals in the spring, where we reconnected again.” She explained, “He immediately was the obvious choice and ready for an internship with real-world experience, therefore, I referred him to Turgeon & Associates for tax season.”
“It was so nice to take the stuff I learned in Joe’s class and apply it,” said Gendron. He appreciated the office’s patience and the additional skills he has gained since interning there. “I picked their brains and took time to learn their jobs,” said Gendron.
Nancy Gegesky, a payroll specialist at Turgeon & Associates and a graduate of Asnuntuck Community College said, “Gary was very pro-active. He was always willing to go above and beyond. He shadowed every one of us in the office to see what each of us does.” She added, “He had a lot of interest and was an immense help in the office.”
Professor Turgeon added, “As in the classroom, he was a quick learner and took on many tasks assigned to him, including assistance in processing tax returns, building spreadsheets for financial statements and even QuickBooks work.” “He successfully completed his 120 required hours in record time and continued to work part-time thereafter for paid compensation. I think it was a mutually rewarding experience for both Gary and the firm,” said the professor. “I look forward to seeing Gary continually achieve his career and personal goals in the future,” said Turgeon.
“I appreciate the recognition by all. I am truly grateful for everyone who has helped me through my journey,” said Gendron.
Late start courses are beginning in October at Asnuntuck. Visit Asnuntuck.edu for more information.