Class of 2017: Niagara College grad heads back to the workforce

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Brad Gillap, third from the left, posing with classmates

Mature students often bring a new, refreshing perspective to the post-secondary classroom; this graduate went above and beyond to bring all of his workplace experience to his class.

Brad Gillap graduated on June 23 from NC’s Computer Systems Technician program. Having grown up in Welland, Gillap was no stranger to the programs that Niagara College offered or its campuses.

After working at a local computer store for 10 years, Gillap took a short-term contract at the Niagara College library to help organize the internal systems. From there, Gillap secured another contract the following summer before attempting to apply for a full-time position. Unfortunately, due to his credentials, he was told that in order to advance his career he needed to go back to the drawing board – or, more specifically, the classroom. That summer, his mind was made up. He quickly finished his high school education and enrolled at the College for that fall.

“At first, I was worried about enrolling. I was so much older than everyone – the rest of the class else was around 18 – since I was 32 at the time, I thought I’d be treated differently,” Gillap said. “Lucky for me, the profs and my classmates all shared the same passion I did, so I wasn’t treated any differently.”

Even though Gillap had so much experience working on computers from his prior jobs, he found that the courses were still very difficult. Frequently, he spent more than eight hours a day working on projects for his classes. When he wasn’t working on his finals, he was seeking out ways to improve.

“After working here, I think he decided different doors would open to him if he had his diploma,” said John Levay, chief technology officer of NC’s Information Technology Services who worked closely with Gillap. “It is a hard choice to come back to school once you are married and have children, but he did and he finished with advanced standing.

“Brad created [a learning] environment where vertical collaboration and mentorship could take place. I think everyone benefited from his presence.”

Gillap is now working for the District School Board of Niagara where he updates old computer software. By bringing these networks up to date, the grad has been improving elementary and secondary schools’ abilities to store vital information.

Gillap says that he is thankful for all he has learned at the College.

“Everything I’m doing at work now I learned at NC,” Gillap said. “I gave everything I had at my program, and it is certainly paying off now.”

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