Northwest Community College

News & Events

Thursday May 25, 2017

Road to Recovery Leads to NCCC for Student of the Year and Commencement Speaker

WINSTED, CT – May 25, 2017 - Jeremy Marchand modestly refers to his last two successful years at Northwestern Connecticut Community College as “a pathway that has led to many new opportunities.” But the story of how he got to NCCC involves a very long, rough road back.

After graduating from high school more than 15 years ago with competitive swimming record including two all-American titles, three all-state titles, and several state and league records, the talented Marchand was prepared to attend college at the University of Rhode Island and continue his swimming career and his studies. But a severe car accident and traumatic brain injury with residual complications prematurely cut short his studies, his competitive swimming career, and almost his life.

Resolve and determination, along with abundant family support, sustained him through a lengthy 15 year recovery, which included numerous set-backs. Throughout this time, he still made several attempts to return to college, never letting go of his goal of continuing his education.

In the spring of 2015, with recovery finally behind him, Marchand returned to NCCC on the Fresh Start Program, which allows students who have been away from the college for two or more years and have a low grade point average the opportunity to return to college and be successful. Marchand received an ‘A’ on his entrance exam, tentatively took two courses that first spring and then kept going, fully confident he could continue and succeed.

Marchand, 35, will graduate this May with an Associate in Science degree. During the past year he served as vice-president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the honor society for two year institutions. He also served as president of the History Association, and president and treasurer of the NCCC Journalism Club, as well as serving as an active member with a local Toastmaster’s Club. He has been awarded several scholarships including the prestigious PTK Bronze Scholar award for the All USA Team, finishing in the top 150 out of 1,700 applicants nationwide. He has also been voted Student of The Year by NCCC faculty and staff and will deliver the 2017 student commencement speech at NCCC’s Commencement ceremonies on May 25, at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, CT.

“NCCC was the greatest thing after my recovery,” says Marchand. “NCCC leveled me and became my life. It offered me an opportunity and now I see everything as an opportunity.”

Marchand, who could always be seen around campus dressed in traditional business attire of khaki pants and button down shirts, has made a large impact on campus with students, faculty and staff, as well as with the community. Always willing to engage fellow students in discussion or activities, Marchand feels strongly that whether as a club member or leader, it is important to foster participation and get other students involved. “NCCC is not just about academics but also about meeting people and getting involved,” he says. “I love the community that NCCC provides. It is a mutual relationship.”

Although very modest about his swim records, recovery challenges, and academic success, Marchand’s tenacity and perseverance is apparent in everything he is passionate about. He says he learned that from his parents and grandparents who taught him two very important values which he continues to adhere to: If you are going to do something; do it right, and, leave something better than how you found it.

Part of Marchand’s legacy for NCCC is his extensive leadership and work with his fellow PTK members to start a food pantry on campus for students. “First and foremost, it will help alleviate food insecurity on NCCC's campus,” says Marchand, “that idea alone is a heartwarming feeling; knowing that something is being done to help people who are in need of assistance is gratifying and rewarding.”

The goal is to have the food bank open on campus by the fall 2017 semester. Several community college campuses in Connecticut already have food pantries including Tunxis Community College in Bristol, and Norwalk Community College. “It's important to have a food bank on this campus,” Marchand says, “especially after doing the research and finding that there is a prevalence of students nationwide, and at NCCC, with food insecurity.” 

Besides academics and community involvement, Marchand says he is also very passionate about being outdoors in all seasons and continues to find refuge in swimming. “The pool has been a home and a way of life, a sanctuary and a pathway,” he says,  “even after so many years removed from the accident and all that has transpired, I feel surrounded by a familiarity, a comfort that comes immediately upon entering the water. I feel at home in the water. I always have.”

After making NCCC his academic home for the last two years, Marchand says he is ready to take on the next academic challenge. “I am very thankful for the amount of energy NCCC has for its students. The academics are tough and you come out of NCCC well prepared to continue with your education. Professors take the time to prepare you for the next level, to be ready for the next level.”

The next level for Marchand will be Trinity College, where he plans to attend in the fall. “I may go on for a master’s degree after I earn my bachelor’s but I am leaving that open for now,” he says, adding that he would like to find a role in public speaking, perhaps as a speech writer in a public relations capacity.

“The story has a happy ending,” he says, “but - it has not nearly ended.”