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New York City
June 2003

Graduation is Sweeter the Second time Around: NYIT

It’s never too late in life to go back to school or to begin a new career track. Proof of that are two recent New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) graduates—both African-American women of a certain age—who received advance degrees this spring. One is Michelle Martin, a business professional and mother of two who felt that she could give back even more by entering the classroom as an instructor. The other, Gertrude Evans, is a grandmother who retired after more than three decades of teaching; in turning to NYIT’s School of Culinary Arts, she has found a niche helping diabetics improve their diets.

Gertrude Evans, who was born in Lancaster, South Carolina, taught in the Amityville, LI public schools for 32 years. She considered retiring but realized at age 59 she was not ready to sit home and do nothing. At a successful restaurant where she and her family dined frequently, she got to know the owner-chef, a graduate of NYIT’s Culinary Arts program.

She was overjoyed when accepted but was sobered by the realization of the hard work and challenges that were ahead of her. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get in. Then when I was accepted I was elated at first but then questioned ‘what have I gotten myself into?’”

Michelle Martin, a Long Island native who had over 10 years of a successful business career, returned to NYIT at age 35 because she decided it was time for a new and more challenging career track. A 1986 graduate of NYIT with a Bachelors of Fine Art, Martin for several years worked for top corporations as a trainer and administrator.

Though she was doing well in the corporate world with positions at such companies as Itochu International and Reuters America, Inc., “There was a void in my life,” Martin says. “I wanted a formal education in what I was doing so that is why I decided to pursue a masters in instructional technology in a trainer track program.” The Masters of Science in Instructional Technology and Certification in Business Distributive Education that she receives from NYIT this spring equips her to be a teacher of business/technology in both a middle and high school capacity.

“I had a very good experience at NYIT,” she says. I really developed a sense of direction in terms of where I was going, what I wanted to do with my life and what purpose my education would serve.”

Gertrude Evans concurs. “I thought I had confidence, was self-assured when I left teaching,” Evans says, “but NYIT moved me to another level. I now feel so much better about myself.” Evans admits that at times she felt a bit overwhelmed by some of the technology in the course requirements. “The computer programs—that was the real challenge for me. I didn’t have many computer skills but the programs we used like menu analysis and power point, it was great to learn how to use them.”

It was during the program and a project she had to do for menu class that Evans discovered her niche. “I started collecting recipes for diabetics. I thought this would be a good thing to do because I know some diabetics but it was like I was just pulled in that direction.” Now she plans to provide services to this health-challenged community.

“I would be providing them with information, doing cooking demonstrations and showing them how easy it is to shop and prepare healthy meals.” With encouragement from her Culinary Arts School instructors Evans is currently writing grant applications, seeking funding for a mobile unit with a kitchen that she can bring to such sites as senior citizen centers and churches to provide people with hands-on demonstrations.

“I was going to work out of my car but after conferencing with one of my professors, she pointed out that there is a need for this and that I could write a grant application. I became very excited and knew that was what I wanted to do. I would like a mobile unit that would keep the food safe. I’m really concerned about food-borne illness so if I had a mobile unit with a kitchen in it, no food would have to go in and out of my home.”

Michelle Martin is also excited about her prospects in instructional technology and how she can apply real world business experience in the classroom. As she said in her commencement address: “Genuine education begins and ends with a pursuit to find truth. Making teaching your profession means finding out what your values are and what motivates you to be a true educator.”

Both women are currently filled with excitement and promise for the future now that they have met the challenge of embarking on new career paths. And though they also have busy domestic lives—Ms. Martin has two young daughters she is raising with her husband Hans, a stockbroker; Ms. Evans helps her daughter with her teenage grandson—they are ready for the rigors and excitement of new careers.

“Nearly 3,000 students will be receiving degrees from NYIT this spring,” notes Dr. Edward Guiliano, NYIT President and CEO. “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of all our graduates.”#

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