Gregory Thomas - Alumni Profile

Gregory Gregory Thomas Thomas, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, graduated from Henry Ford High School in Detroit.  He obtained Gregory Thomas an Associates iGregory Thomas n Applied Science Automotive Technology from Henry Ford Community College (’09), an Associates in Applied Science Gregory Thomas Mental Health/Social Work (’11) from OCC, and a Bachelor of Social Work from Madonna University (’13). Thomas is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Higher Education/Student Affairs and Certificate of Academic Advising at Eastern Michigan University, which he expects to complete in 2015. He earned a Graduate Assistantship and currently works in the University Advising and Career Development Center at EMU.

Why did you choose OCC?
When I graduated from Henry Ford Community College, I recognized that Automotive Technology was not my calling. I had to do some soul searching and re-evaluate my strengths. I realized that my passion for helping people overcome obstacles and achieve whatever their hearts desire is my true calling. Through research, I discovered OCC’s Mental Health/Social Work (MHA) Program. My fascination for the MHA program coupled with the convenience of multiple campus sites and affordable tuition persuaded my decision to attend OCC.

What is your fondest memory of OCC?
My fondest memory of OCC, without a doubt, was graduation day. As a first generation-African American college student from Detroit, words could not describe the emotion I felt that day.  I come from a low income, single parent household and graduating from OCC was not only a personal achievement, but a gift to my heritage, family and everyone who played an integral role in my life.

What surprised you the most about OCC?
To be honest, nothing surprised me about Oakland Community College. In fact, OCC reassured me of its great curriculums, brilliant instructors, attractive campuses and competitive tuition prices.

How did attending OCC impact your life?
OCC truly prepared me to succeed in a four-year institution. I must admit, coming out of high school I felt I was not mentally and academically ready to transition into a four-year institution. OCC elevated my confidence. I worked with terrific faculty and staff, many of whom I remain in contact with today. As a result, I concluded my educational experience at OCC with a 3.65 grade point average overall.

Were you involved in student life activities at OCC?  How did those impact you?
Due to my academic achievement, I was proudly inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society-Alpha Omicron Psi Chapter in 2010, and I volunteered to serve as a directory assistant for new incoming students at OCC’s Southfield campus.  After OCC, I participated in several student organizations in which I held leadership positions.  I served as President for both the Phi Alpha Social Work National Honor Society and the Social Work Association at Madonna University.  I was also a member of several other honor societies including Phi Theta Kappa, Chi Alpha Epsilon and Kappa Gamma Phi.  I currently serve as the Treasurer for the Higher Education/Student Affairs Association (student board) at Eastern Michigan University.

Was there a favorite faculty or staff member who had a strong, positive impact on your life?
I could not possibly name one faculty/staff member. There were four individuals who made a strong, positive impact on my life:  Dr. Mel Chudnof and Dr. Gail Palmer, of the MHA Program, and Dr. Mary Thomas and Edward Stotts who both served as my academic counselors. Without these four professionals, I would NOT be the man I am today, and I am forever thankful for their services and commitment to my educational upbringing.

What has been your most rewarding professional or personal experience since graduating?
My most rewarding experience was at Madonna University when I worked as a student mentor in the TRIO Student Support Services program. I promoted and developed programs and workshops that engaged marginalized and underrepresented students. My leadership, dedication and participation in these activities were acknowledged with the 2013 Student Leader Award and the 2013 Peer Mentor Award. This experience allowed me to give to others what I looked for growing up.

What advice can you give other OCC graduates about school and life after school?
A dream without action is just an illusion. When you discover your purpose and destiny in life you must execute it! You only have three choices in life:  you can give up, give in, or give it all you got. There will be times when you will be faced with adversities, but never lose sight of your ultimate goal. I believe nothing is impossible to a willing heart and when you fully invest your time and effort into your objective, continue to network and retain positive people in your life, then your dreams will indeed become your reality.

What would you like for people to know about OCC that they might not necessarily know?
If you are looking for a community college to prepare you for a promising career, additional training, a confidence boost and a smooth transition into a four-year institution, then Oakland Community College is the college for you. “Get anywhere from here” is OCC’s official motto, and I believe this institution lived up to this creed.