For the Georges, NCC is becoming a family tradition. With one alum, Fayola, and two students Alexander and Fatima, they turned to NCC because they knew they could count on the quality and affordability of the education they’d receive. The support system they’ve created for each other has resulted in success both in and out of the classroom, and they have big plans for the future thanks to their NCC roots.
Fayola Georges was a first-generation college student when she started to think about where to head after high school. She was a part of Generation Next in high school, a program under Community Action Lehigh Valley, which helps students prepare for college and opens them up to a variety of choices. Thanks to Generation Next, she learned valuable skills to take with her to college, but it also helped encourage her to start taking college courses in high school as a dual enrollment student at NCC. She was ready for her next step.
Fayola originally started at Pace University in 2019, but with the start of the pandemic, she thought it would be a smart move to head back to NCC for her two-year degree. She saw the value in NCC’s education, the flexibility of the courses, and the strong community the college offered, having taken courses there already. She also wanted to be with her family at home during such a challenging time. She was pleased to find that all her credits transferred to NCC from Pace. “The enrollment center made it an easy process for me to transfer in. You always hear how credits from NCC transfer easily into four-year colleges, but I appreciated that it worked well the other way around, too.” She graduated in 2022 with a business administration degree and is now attending Alvernia University to earn her bachelor’s degree.
While Fayola was attending NCC, she encouraged her mother to come finish what she started at the college. Her mother, Fatima, had attempted earning a degree at NCC in 2015, but balancing her family life, work and school proved to be difficult. Born and raised in Haiti, Fatima wanted to have a better future. When she moved to America at nineteen, she took English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Essex County College, close to where she lived at the time in New Jersey. She went to work and lived with her uncle until she got married. Although Fatima had a few jobs, like cashier, bank teller and French bi-lingual translator for Pfizer, none of those jobs were her passion.
When Fatima was laid off from Pfizer in 2008, she took the opportunity to go to school for cosmetology, and thereafter, started working as a stylist. She had the idea to start an online boutique to combine her love of fashion with her love of hair but knew she would benefit from additional skills in business to make her idea even more successful. So, at her daughter’s prompting, she came back to NCC and enrolled in business and marketing classes. She aims to finish her degree this winter, graduating in December 2023 with a degree in business administration just like Fayola.
“The classes have taught me ways to better run my business and market myself. I built my whole website with the skills I learned through my coursework at NCC. Sometimes you quit before you know what is to come, and I knew I needed to see this through. Learning also keeps me mentally healthy,” says Fatima.
But, as Fatima is on her way to graduation, another Georges family member is starting his degree at NCC. Her son, Alexander, has dreams of becoming a civil engineer. He loves math and physics. “I want to use CAD (Computer Aided Design) software to map out a project and see it come to life. I want to build a better and safer community,” he says.
Alexander enrolled at NCC because he saw the education his sister and mother received, and they helped answer a lot of the questions he had about continuing his education. He knew he could get the same quality education for less in his first two years of post-secondary schooling.
“There’s so much diversity in this school. In high school, I knew everyone, and we’re all the same age. Here, I get to hear from a 30-year-old in my class and then someone my own age. You can build different relationships with different walks of life and learn from people different from yourself,” Alexander said.
The Georges family each have exciting futures ahead, Alexander plans to transfer after two years at NCC and start working with a co-op where he can gain experience and create a smooth transition into the workforce.
After Fayola graduates from Alvernia this winter, she wants to earn her master’s and become a college professor. “College is a prime time to make a difference in someone’s life and really help them navigate what they aspire to do, and I like working with others. It feels like a great fit for me.”
Fatima plans to continue building on the momentum she started for her small online business, Fatima’s Boutique and Beauty Bar. She’ll continue to cut hair, but she has some different dreams now that she has a business degree that could help those become a reality.
“I want to start a restaurant. My family lives in Easton, and we haven’t noticed any restaurants centered around Haitian food. I would love to bring my culture and cooking to this area,” says Fatima. As for Fayola and Alexander, they fully support the new venture. They say that mom’s cooking is on par with her cosmetology and fashion prowess. Fayola plans to help her mother in any way that she can with the business, and they’re already looking for investors.
“People always see community college as being less prestigious than four-year institutions, but I learned so much at NCC. All my credits count toward earning my degree, and I’m getting taught by well-educated professors that have experience in the field. People underestimate what you can do here,” said Fatima.
Fatima may come back for culinary classes and Fayola may have teaching at NCC in her future. The family says their youngest sibling and the last of the Georges kids, Easton High School freshman, Karissa Georges, has plans to come to NCC for dual enrollment like her sister did, continuing the NCC tradition.