|Major: Business Administration|
|Hometown: Escanaba, MI|
|Current City: Escanaba, MI|
Escanaba native Jim McNeil described himself as a decent – if somewhat unmotivated – student before taking classes at Bay College. Thanks in large part to the passion of Bay’s teachers and employees, he is now working as his hometown’s city assessor and making progress towards a master’s degree in finance.
In the spring of 2015, Jim graduated from Escanaba Senior High School. Then, he started taking classes at Bay during the fall 2015 semester.
“It was an affordable option to start college and figure out what I wanted to pursue. Staying home and having access to a resource like Bay is not available for everybody – we’re very fortunate to have such a good community college,” he said.
At Bay, Jim pursued an associate degree in business administration. He said he had wanted to go into this field since his high school days.
“It was just something I was always interested in, especially the finance end of it. Business was a good way to get there while being a bit broader than just finance,” he said.
However, taking classes at Bay helped him become a lifelong learner.
“I was a good student coming into college, but I didn’t try hard enough in school and I wasn’t motivated to do schoolwork. After my first semester at Bay, I became inspired seeing what these professors knew and what it means to build good study habits. That made me curious and interested in learning,” Jim said.
Along with that, Jim appreciated the smaller class sizes available at Bay.
“What I enjoyed most about it was the ability to really get to know and work with my professors on a more individual level. I had the opportunity to see what they teach beyond the book and have better discussions about everything,” he said.
Jim graduated from Bay with his associate degree after the winter 2017 semester. Thanks to Bay’s partnership with Lake Superior State University, he was able to work towards a bachelor’s degree while staying in the Escanaba area.
“Going through the LSSU program at Bay was a tremendous value. It was more affordable than going away, you were still able to work with professors one-on-one, and I was able to stay home and get involved with the community,” he said.
By the time Jim got his bachelor’s degree in finance after the winter 2019 semester, he had already started working with the City of Escanaba. The previous summer, he had an internship with the city government; in January 2019, he was hired as an assistant assessor. In the fall of 2019, he went on to become Escanaba’s city assessor.
“The primary function of my job is to prepare the city assessment roll. We value all the real and personal property in the city and administer the property tax laws. I’m also a big part of economic development projects, and I use skills in business, accounting, and finance to help out with other projects in the city,” he said of the job duties associated with his current position.
The classes he took at Bay went a long way toward helping him succeed in his current job.
“Business administration is a fairly general degree, and I’ve definitely pulled from accounting, business, and environmental science classes in my job. Many of those classes have taught me skills I still use today,” Jim said.
Even as he works as the city assessor for Escanaba, Jim has continued to focus on his higher education. Currently, he is working to earn a master’s degree in finance through the University of Michigan – Dearborn online program.
Looking back on his time at Bay, Jim said the dedication of its staff and faculty played a crucial role in his personal growth.
“The most important thing was the people. All the people at Bay, from the top down, made it such a good experience. Every college follows curriculums and textbooks, but it’s the people I worked with that made Bay so special,” he said.