NOVA Named a 2023 Leader College

August 25, 2023

Today, we’re celebrating a birthday–107 years! In 1916, the National Park Service (NPS) was signed into existence with the National Park Service Act. As we celebrate this day, we also celebrate NOVA Nighthawk and spring 2023 grad Anthony DeJesus, an NPS employee who took his career to the next level earning an AAS in Biology from NOVA. After years of work in the state and federal park systems, Anthony found himself drawn to higher education and the dream of advancement within the space he loves–the National Park Service. 


Tell us a little about yourself and your background: 
I was born in the Bronx and spent much of my young life in New York City. I was always interested in nature, but the “concrete jungle” of New York left me with little opportunity to work with animals directly. I spent hours glued to the nature shows on Animal Planet, National Geographic and the BBC. There was no question that my love for nature was a prevalent part of my personality. 

At 16, I left New York to live with family in Miami. It was here that my love of nature was able to flourish. The Florida Everglades became my second home, and I spent my free time observing and learning from the environment around me. I started working at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a small park in the Florida Keys that gave me my start. From there, I worked at multiple locations across the U.S., including Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Morristown National Historical Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, and most currently, Manassas National Battlefield Park. 

What brought you to NOVA? 
I work at Manassas National Battlefield Park, which happens to be conveniently located right across the road from NOVA’s Manassas Campus. When I started taking classes, I worked for NPS’ maintenance, and I knew a degree could advance my role in the NPS. Once I earned my degree, I was able to move from the maintenance division into administration. 

What did you study at NOVA? 
I majored in Biology. 

Tell us about your experience at NOVA? 
I was very happy as a NOVA student, and the Manassas Campus experience was a great fit for me. Attending school and working full time was challenging, particularly during COVID. I found that the in-person classroom experience helped me concentrate, and my grades struggled during the online portions of my studies. I ultimately pushed through those barriers and am now a proud graduate.   

I want to especially thank Dr. Tupper, professor of zoology, and Dr. B, my biology professor. My favorite experience from my time at NOVA was the field trip that I went on with my zoology class. We had the opportunity to go to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and experience what research scientists do firsthand. We were able to handle a variety of species and learn so much from one field trip. 

The people that I met in my biology classes were some of the greatest characters I’ve ever met. I feel like we challenged each other, and even after it was all done, we would still talk and quiz each other with biological knowledge, which is invaluable. 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 
NOVA is a good place to get your start. It’s got a lot of good programs for different interests and different fields of study. Don’t give up! If you are not challenged, then find a way to challenge yourself–whether it’s with your professors or with your peers. If the work is challenging, then stick through it, because it’s worth it in the end. The time just flies by! 

Where do you see yourself after NOVA, and what career pursuits are you exploring? 
I’m proud to be a first-generation student, knowing that I’ve accomplished something that can make my family proud. Besides furthering my education, I want to work for the National Park Service for the rest of my life. I see myself utilizing the skills and knowledge that I gained from NOVA to run a national park as a superintendent one day. 

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