Forging the Future: Nathan Garrison

Tue Dec 15, 2020 at 09:25 AM


As a student at Blue Ridge Community College, Nathan Garrison was excelling in both his studies and forging his path toward his future career. Nathan, who went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration at James Madison University, was able to find his interest in local government by working part-time for the Town of Grottoes while studying at BRCC.

“The classes were always flexible,” said Garrison. “I was able to easily hold a part-time job and go to school at Blue Ridge, which was very beneficial and substantial to what I needed.”

Along with the flexibility in his schedule, Nathan credits his professors at BRCC as contributing to his professional success.

“I felt like Blue Ridge prepared me well for my next step. I think back about conversations that I had with my professors, their desire to know who their students were, and just to have those personal connections and conversations,” said Garrison. “Those were the most beneficial things that I’ve had, even from Blue Ridge, just into what life is, and that was always appreciated at Blue Ridge.”

During Nathan’s senior year of college at JMU, he received a full-time job as the Tourism and Parks Director at Grand Caverns with the Town of Grottoes and continued to work towards graduating in December 2016. After two years, Nathan became the Town Manager and worked in that role until October 2020, when he received a new position with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) as one of their Regional Planners.

“The Planning District Commission gets involved in a very broad region. There are five counties, five cities, and 11 towns that we assist, represent and help with projects and planning,” said Garrison. “I’m most excited to be able to use my experience prior, as well as continue to learn and continue to meet new challenges but also help a very broad region.”

As Nathan settles into his new role, he feels that BRCC has prepared him for the steps he’s taken in his career and offers advice to students working to complete their degrees, as well as those finding their intended career path.

“Don’t be afraid – and be willing – to reach out for help and advice. Once you determine – or even before, if you just think you know what you want to do – be sure to talk to people in those roles or in those industries and learn more specifically about it,” said Garrison. “Then once you decide what you want to do, continue to keep those relationships and to make new ones throughout college. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people because you’re still in your academics, make those connections and just learn about the industry as much as you can.”