Grads Enjoy Working Hard to Help Others

Thu Sep 14, 2017 at 04:46 PM

BRCC alums Jeff Miracle '87 and Nadina Pupic '11

BRCC alums Jeff Miracle '87 and Nadina Pupic '11

Jeff Miracle, Class of 1987

President and CEO, United Way of Greater Augusta

Why BRCC?

I received an Associate’s Degree in general studies. I chose to attend BRCC because I wanted to commute to school while continuing to work full time. I was seeking an associate’s degree before attending seminary.

What is the hallmark of a Blue Ridge education?

I think the hallmark of a Blue Ridge education is the affordability combined with the quality of the educational opportunities offered by BRCC.

Did your Blue Ridge education steer you toward working for nonprofits?

While attending BRCC I took a class called “How to Run a Nonprofit Organization.” It was taught by Ed Clark from the Wildlife Center of Virginia. I had already planned on becoming an officer in The Salvation Army. From a young age, I felt a calling to help those in need. Taking this course showed me that there is a great need to be able to manage the resources of a nonprofit organization. Through the past 27 years I have been able to assist people through some amazing national organizations including The Salvation Army, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The American Lung Association, and now United Way of Greater Augusta.

Why is Blue Ridge important in our community?

In February I returned to the campus of BRCC for the first time in over 25 years. I am amazed by how the courses, classes, and certificate programs at Blue Ridge have grown to meet the needs of the community. BRCC is important to our community because it offers a quality, affordable college education, along with career studies certificate programs, to meet the needs of the people and businesses in our community.

Nadina Pupic, Class of 2011

Community Relations Coordinator, United Way of Greater Augusta

Why BRCC?

I started at BRCC as dual enrollment while I was still attending Broadway High School. I received an Associate of Arts & Science degree. I chose BRCC because it was convenient and the class schedule was flexible. This allowed me the opportunity to take care of my disabled mom and work all while attending BRCC.

What is the hallmark of a Blue Ridge education?

HARD WORK. I think BRCC produces some of the hardest working people in our community. Those that attend BRCC know what it takes because they are usually raising families or working two jobs, but they know the importance of a good quality education, and that is why they choose to attend BRCC.

Did your Blue Ridge education steer you toward working for nonprofits?

It wasn’t so much the education but more the people. Seeing the high level of community engagement with the faculty made me want to aspire to do the same. They also opened my eyes to the beauty and warmth of our community; that also made me want to stick around in the area and get involved in community outreach.

“Ah-ha” educational moments?

My “ah-ha” moment came from my favorite educator of all time, Professor of Spanish, Nell Tiller. Her passion for the language and Spanish-speaking people made me want to explore the world. Through her class, I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and live with a host family for 2 weeks, all while taking Spanish classes at a institute. The kindness and mindfulness she demonstrated while explaining the Tico people and their “PURA VIDA” mentality made visiting Costa Rica a dream come true.

Events that stand out?

I started at BRCC without a focus or direction. I did not know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to work, I just knew that I wanted a higher-level education. This meant that I took all sorts of classes from psychology courses to different history classes to criminal justice classes. The most unique experience for me was the semester I spent throwing on the pottery wheel because I wanted to give that a try. It was a wonderful experience, but I quickly learned that long-term, this was not for me.

Why is Blue Ridge important in our community?

It provides working adults, single parents, young adults, etc., access to affordable education with flexible scheduling. This means that a working mom of two can take online classes, or even night classes, but still be able to work and provide for her family. It gives opportunities to young adults who cannot go away to college because they may have to take care of their parents or siblings to attend college. It is also an AMAZING pathway to a 4-year degree that does not leave you buried in student loan debt.