According to Bay College graduate Chris Gravatt, his time as a Bay student changed the course of his life. While he started out as a high school dropout, studying at Bay helped him gain confidence and discover his passions – to the point where he now works as a full-time chemistry instructor at the College.
As an Escanaba native, Chris did attend Escanaba Senior High School for a few years before dropping out. He participated in an online schooling program for his last two years of high school and graduated from that program in 2005.
After that, he went to Kalamazoo Valley Community College for about a year. Then, he moved back to Escanaba and started taking classes at Bay.
“I just kind of wanted to get out of Kalamazoo – it wasn’t really much of a decision, other than moving back with my parents for a while and continuing college,” Chris said.
Chris’ time as a Bay student began in the fall 2008 semester. After taking classes here for a year, he earned his associate degree in liberal arts – but chose to continue his studies at Bay in another field right after accomplishing this.
“I stayed at Bay because I changed my major. I wanted to be a lawyer initially, but I changed my major to a more science-based track and stayed at Bay to work towards earning an associate of science degree in pre-natural resources,” he said.
After taking general chemistry classes as a prerequisite for Bay’s water technology program, Chris became curious about chemistry. While he never completed that program, his chemistry classes (taught by Jennifer Gustafson) reinforced his interest in science.
He also helped other Bay students learn about chemistry, foreshadowing his eventual position at the college.
“In my time at Bay, I worked as a tutor/SI leader for basically all the classes that I teach now. It’s given me a unique perspective on Bay,” Chris said.
Ultimately, Chris graduated from Bay with his second associate degree in 2012. He moved on to Lake Superior State University and graduated from that school in the fall of 2014, once again earning two degrees – a bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry and a bachelor’s degree in “standard” chemistry.
“What I decided was that I wanted to go to grad school for chemistry, and it’s easier to get in if you have a bachelor’s degree in just chemistry,” he said, noting he only had to add one extra class to accomplish this thanks to his credits from Bay.
Chris went on to attend grad school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated with a doctorate in organic chemistry in the fall of 2020.
“After I graduated, I accepted a post-doctoral research position in Boston working for a biopharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca. I did research with them for about seven months, but decided I was really not liking living in Boston,” he said.
Around that time, a chemistry instructor position opened at Bay College. Chris saw this job opening on social media and jumped on the opportunity.
“They were in the midst of interviewing for it, and I applied late and interviewed late, but I got the job,” he said.
Chris started working as an instructor at Bay in August 2021. That November, he said his first semester in this position had been both hectic and enjoyable.
“There’s a lot to do right away, but it’s great. It’s a lot more interactive, and I’ve enjoyed talking with students and having a more social aspect to my job that you don’t get working in Big Pharma,” he said.
Along with this, he appreciates being in Escanaba once again since it has allowed him to live closer to both his own family and his wife’s family.
Chris said one of the primary reasons he wanted to teach at Bay was to get today’s students interested in science, just like how he became curious about the field years ago. Along with teaching classes at Bay, he hopes to eventually implement a science education program for K-12 students in the community.
“It’s a very integral thing for our society – we need scientists, and we need to inspire people to become scientists,” he said.