At age 47, Quinn Garber knows that many of his classmates are young enough to be his son or daughter, but that doesn't discourage him on the path to a new career.
"One of the best things about RACC is all the non-traditional students," he said. "I am one of the oldest people in my classes, but a lot of people here are in their 30s and have similar situations."
Quinn came to RACC in the fall of 2012 after losing his job in the technical service section of a chemical lab the previous year. He had spent 14 years with that company but said he saw the writing on the wall. "Every couple of months they would let 20 or 25 people go," he said. "I was stressed because it was getting progressively worse."
Because Quinn lost his job due to foreign competition, he qualified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funding to go back to school, but there was a strict process he had to go through to earn the benefit. "You had to currently be pursuing a high-demand job," he said. "For months, I was searching and applying for jobs, but I found I was either overqualified or under-qualified.
Armed with a bachelor's degree in biology from Allentown College (now DeSales University) that he earned right out of high school, Quinn said the healthcare field drew his interest. He decided to pursue the Medical Laboratory Technician Program at RACC.
"I worked with CareerLink, but it was my responsibility to find out what I wanted to do and where. Then they helped submit the paperwork to get it approved," Quinn said.
Returning to school after 25 years he said was stressful more than anything. "The technology and how computer-oriented everything is was so different," he said. "I had familiarity with computers, but now you have to get on the computer. I went camping for a weekend and I had no Internet service to get any work done."
Quinn said a key to his success is treating college like any other eight-hour job. He comes to RACC at the same time every day and spends a full day, even if he doesn't have classes. "I'm sitting and studying. I just keep looking at my notes and reviewing everything," he said. "That way I don't panic before a test."
He's enjoying the school environment and the personal attention that is offered at RACC. Because of the small class sizes, he said teachers recognize you and try to work with a student to help them find success. While he is still in the classroom this semester, he is particularly looking forward to the spring when the clinical rotations will begin. During that time, students get to experience different fields within MLT so they can start to determine the area they would like to specialize in after graduation.
In addition to his class schedule, Quinn also is active with the College's Health Professions Club, which is composed of students from each of the Health Professions majors.
As a full-time college student and dad to three children, Quinn has little time to reflect on the jobs he has held over the years – from Bachman Pretzels to Alpo pet food. Instead, he is thankful and looking ahead to what the future will hold.