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Nurturing Success: Northern New Mexico College Student Lands Dream Job At LANL

on July 17, 2017 - 10:00am
Chase Harrison speaks at graduation. Courtesy photo
Chase Harrisono
NNMC News:
Only a few years ago, Chase Harrison could not imagine himself standing at a podium in front of hundreds of people as the student speaker at his own college graduation, with his dream job waiting for him.
The young computer buff from Colorado says he took a leap of faith which resulted in a degree from Northern New Mexico College and a coveted job at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) doing what he loves, not to mention a happy marriage.
The story of that leap started while the young Chase was working and studying full time in his native Colorado, leaving him with no social life or time for love.
“I didn’t really have a social life or anything like that, so I decided to join a dating website and see what’s out there because I don’t want to go to a bar and try to do it that way,” Chase said.
As luck would have it, the young man was destined to meet a New Mexican girl named Tina, his now wife, who encouraged him to pursue his interests in computer networking in northern New Mexico which houses LANL, one of the country’s top scientific research institutes.
With love in his heart and an associate degree in hand, Chase moved out to the Land of Enchantment to follow his dreams, but soon found it hard to gain employment in his desired field with an unaccredited degree that he’d gained from a private institute.
Undeterred, he started looking around for degree programs that could give him the skills and accreditations necessary to work for LANL.
“I saw that Northern New Mexico College has a partnership with Cisco, and that’s what I wanted to get into because I love networking, so I decided to go here,” Chase said.
He enrolled in Information Engineering Technology at Northern, an ABET accredited program that also gives students the opportunity to obtain industry certification from companies such as Cisco and VMware while working towards their degree.
Simultaneously and through sheer determination and persistence, Chase was able to land himself a student employee position at LANL’s research library doing basic computing and networking.  
Before long, his superiors could see Chase’s passion and enthusiasm for high performance computing.
“Here at Northern, all the classes set me up for networking. The great teachers here are well versed in networking and they helped me flourish and get even more passionate about networking,” Chase said.
After graduating with his associate degree from Northern, Chase was offered a full-time entry position by LANL. Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Northern in May, he was given a higher position.
Chase’s success comes as no surprise to his teachers and advisors at Northern New Mexico College who recognized his intelligence, determination and hard work early on.
“As his academic advisor, it is clear to me that Chase is a career-oriented person,” said Dr. Jorge Crichigno, Associate Professor of Engineering and Director of Northern’s Information Engineering Technology Program.
“A few semesters after transferring to Northern, Chase enrolled in one of my classes, Advanced Computer Networks. He has a superlative work ethic that was reflected in his performance, obtaining the highest grade of the class,” Dr. Crichigno added.  
“Fast forward to his last semester in college, Chase worked with me in a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Chase and his teammates deployed a high-speed cyberinfrastructure on campus that will serve several departments across campus, including engineering, biology, environmental science, and others.”
“It is not a coincidence that he was recruited by Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the finest federal laboratories in the country, right after his graduation in May 2017. With his skills, ability to work effectively on teams, and understanding of professional responsibilities, I am very confident that Chase will be an excellent professional to the service of the country and an ambassador for Northern New Mexico College,” Dr. Crichigno said.