Mid-Life Career-Switcher Earns Baker College of Flint’s First Ever Centennial Scholarship

March 23, 2012

John J. Fechik first Baker College Centennial Scholarship awardee

John J. Fechik’s first career ended with a thud.

“The building trade industry bottomed out and the company I worked for shut down,” said the 57-year-old former designer and Vietnam veteran.

Like so many others in today’s economy, Fechik, who lives in Grand Blanc, faced a difficult mid-life choice: try to find work in his former field or retrain and begin anew.

He chose to retrain. Now, three years later, Fechik is close to completing his bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration at Baker College of Flint and a new career in orthotics/prosthetics awaits.

For his efforts, Fechik has been awarded Baker College of Flint’s first-ever Centennial Award scholarship, established to commemorate Baker’s 100 years of career-ready education and to provide annual support for deserving students.

“I was fortunate to discover Baker College,” said Fechik. “Their advisors and instructors helped me realize that one is never too old to attain a new career or acquire a new skill.”

Fechik initially earned an orthotic/prosthetic technology associate degree from Baker’s Flint campus. He is currently employed as a teacher’s assistant in the orthotic/prosthetic department at Baker College of Flint and attending class full time. After graduation in June, Fechik plans to start working on a master’s degree at Baker College.

“My ultimate goal is to continue as an employee at Baker College of Flint and teach in the orthotic/prosthetic department after I earn the required certifications,” said Fechik.

Fechik says being named the first recipient of the Baker College of Flint Centennial Scholarship award was wonderful and very much appreciated.

“I was honored and surprised to receive this scholarship,” said Fechik. “Baker College has helped me achieve something I never dreamed I would do and has opened new doors for me.”

The Centennial Scholarship fund was established at Baker College of Flint in celebration of its centennial year. Current students who achieved at least a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 and completed at least 36 credit hours were eligible to apply. Each applicant was required to write an essay that answered the following questions: “How will the centennial scholarship assist in achieving career goals at Baker College of Flint?” and “How will the centennial scholarship assist in achieving career goals upon graduation?”

“The scholarship committee judged each applicant on the responses to the questions as well as the overall essay,” said Gerald McCarty II, Baker College of Flint vice president for student services. “All of the entries submitted were of high quality and the committee had a difficult time in determining the winner. John’s entry and his overall scholastic achievement and career aspirations made the decision easier. He is very deserving of this award.”

Fechik received the scholarship award at the Baker College of Flint centennial celebration event. During his acceptance speech, he referred to an article that a friend had given him about the Roy Rogers Riders Club Rules. Written back in the 1950s, Fechik said that he applies many of the values listed to his everyday life.

“Be courteous and polite, protect the weak and help them, study hard and learn all you can, and always respect our flag and our country are just a few of the rules that guide my life,” said Fechik. “I also credit God for his guidance and my mother and late father for their love and support that helped me become the person that I am today. I also couldn’t have done this without the support and understanding of my wife, Kim.”

The Baker College of Flint scholarship committee will determine future winners of the Centennial Scholarship. At least one award will be made every year and the winner(s) will be notified by December.

Contributions to the Centennial Scholarship Fund may be directed to Rebecca Boggs, business manager, Baker College of Flint, 1050 West Bristol Road, Flint, MI 48507. Baker College of Flint is a 501(c)(3) organization.

The Baker College System