Hundreds of students graduate from Bay College every year, but sophomore Gabe Gaudino’s graduation will be a milestone for both himself and the college as a whole. When he completes his studies in 2021, Gabe will likely be the first student to graduate from Bay's agriculture program.
“I guess you could say I’m the guinea pig or the progenitor of the program,” Gabe said.
Bay College has partnered with Michigan State University to offer the agriculture program. Students participating in the program are dual-enrolled at both schools, and all courses are offered at Bay’s Escanaba campus. Through the program, students can earn a certificate from the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology and an associate degree from Bay.
Gabe started taking classes at Bay in 2018. His wife, Samantha Gaudino, is also taking Bay classes online; Gabe said they started studying at Bay thanks to the financial support that was available to them.
“We could both get completely covered through financial aid, and then that gave us the ability to pay for our books and supplies,” he said.
As an Escanaba native, he also appreciated the location of Bay’s Escanaba campus.
“It’s local, and I knew that I could stay right here at home and go,” Gabe said.
Originally, Gabe hadn’t planned on going into agriculture. He was an art and design major when he started taking classes at Bay, but his plans changed after he received an unexpected gift.
“My father recently gave me five acres of land in Ford River…that changed my perspective of what could be possible once I graduate,” he said.
The fall 2020 semester marks Gabe’s first semester participating in the agriculture program, which he is currently the only student enrolled in. He is taking an in-person plant pathology class and an agricultural industries seminar via Zoom for the program, both of which are taught by program coordinator Jesse Traub.
So far, Gabe said his agricultural studies have been going well.
“I just had a tour yesterday of the vineyard in Bark River, which was pretty awesome,” he said.
Gabe is taking microeconomics and essential biology courses this semester, as well.
Along with his classes, Gabe appreciated the career fairs, workshops, and other opportunities for career development and personal networking that are available at Bay.
“They offer a lot of extracurriculars that could propel you into a better career field,” he said.
Gabe is considering the possibility of becoming a crop consultant or farmer after he graduates.
“I’m starting to gain the ability to see what I would do with this certificate when I finish,” he said.