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Student Nick Carr-Voigt Finds a Second Chance Through G3 Scholarship

Carr-Voigt

Nick Carr-Voigt is one of NOVA’s amazing G3 students. G3 is an initiative allowing Virginian’s of low to modest income to get the skills they need to get a skill, get a job and get ahead (G3). G3 scholarship makes community college possible for those who financially qualify on a timeline that works for them (full time, part time, a few weeks or a few years). G3 students can select from a list of approved programs in five in-demand career areas: Healthcare, Information Technology, Manufacturing and Skilled Trades, Early Childhood Education and Public Safety. 

At 33, and after a few attempts at college, Nick was working in restaurants for more than a decade. Between the pandemic and hitting a roadblock in his career, he found his way back to school. 

“I was never really that awesome at school,” he said, “but I had seen that it was a means to an end.”

He tried NOVA after graduating from high school in 2006. “I skipped a lot of classes and didn’t try that hard. So, when I lost my job back in March, I realized I needed a change,” he said. “I looked up some classes and realized that the semester had begun. From there, I dealt with financial aid and got started. I signed up for classes in English and hospitality – and got enrolled just in the nick of time in the following week.” 

“I went back to NOVA knowing that I should’ve been in technology all along. I even went to a gifted and talented high school and wrote my first line of coding when I was six. Web design and programming has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. So now I have a game plan to go take classes again and enter the technology field.” He is now working on his associate in applied Science (AAS) in information systems technology. 

“At this point, I have not decided yet what I want to do with my degree. I want to get more insight into what the jobs are. Through the courses I’ve taken, I’ve learned about FastForward and I’ve learned that I can take a voucher for the Linux exam. I also learned that my network security classes can qualify me for vouchers as well.” 

Nick’s plan is to work in the IT support field; but he says he has enjoyed every field he has dabbled in through the classes he has taken.

“Being in an area where I can support the IT infrastructure behind a company or a cause that I believe in is where I would like to end up. Outside of being an overall IT geek, I really enjoy graphic design and have enjoyed 3D modeling in the past. I know my way around the kitchen after culinary school. I feel like there are ways to tie all that I know all together.

“Even before I started classes, I was approached by a company that does the deployment of sales systems at restaurants. I told them I would like to get my degree first and I would call them in a year. If I could, I’d do support-IT for a graphic design or digital design firm. That is what really appeals to me. It is about how well the IT skills set travels across all realms.”

Of the professors he has had at NOVA, he says one of his favorites is Prof. Michael “Zach” Lawrence who taught his Linux Administration course over the summer was phenomenal. The course “was so fast-tracked through a six-week summer term, and Lawrence covered everything, Nick said. “I think he was even in Japan over the summer and did it over a 12-hour time zone difference. He always got back to us so quickly. It was amazing.” 

Nick said he has primarily been doing self-paced coursework at NOVA where you learn at your own pace and on your own time.

“That has been a game changer on how I learn. I have found that, when I am in a traditional classroom setting, I find myself zoning out when people ask questions about things I already understand; and then when people go through things I don’t know – I was already spaced out.  So being able to take a break and go back to coursework online has been helpful. Even being able to think outloud while taking a test has been great. When I am able to talk to myself while taking a test and hear myself outloud, I can understand the overall framework of concepts. That’s why I enjoy taking classes online.” 

He says the G3 program for him has brought change. “I lost my job back in March and thought I would float by for a bit. I am still financially recovering and, when the stimulus hit back in March along with the G3 funding, it meant I could do the spring and summer semesters without working. It meant pouring every fiber of my being into schoolwork.” 

As a single dad who cares for his son who cares for his son two days a week and paying child support, without G3, he says, once student loans hit, he would be right back where he was before. Any gains he made would be gone, and he would have to go right back into debt with loans.

“When I found out about the G3 program halfway through the summer, it made a huge difference in my situation toward getting my life back together. I know I am headed in the right direction. G3 puts me in a situation where, once I got my degree and a job, I am already improving my life and not just sustaining it. 

When asked what he would say to an incoming NOVA student, Nick says, “Being older, more mature and aware of who I am, and working within the constraints of what I am capable of has really gone a long way. If you had seen my transcripts in my first attempt at NOVA, I was getting Cs, Ds. In going back to school now, I haven’t gotten less than an A in my coursework. I ‘ve taken 8 classes so far. I would tell students to take advantage of what there is to offer. I have shared links about G3. To people I have talked to who have kids and are in my same potion, I say, If you’re interested in healthcare, tech or early childhood development, check this out. It has the potential to change so many people’s lives. It is cool that it is changing mine, but it’s cool to see what it can do for the state as a whole. This is even great for kids fresh out of high school who may not have known what they want to do; but it can help them. If it can help someone like me who didn’t take college seriously at first, but then came back and changed their lives, it can help anyone. It’s a lifeline for people who need a second chance.  That’s really what it is for me.”

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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