When she graduates at the end of Bay College’s ongoing winter 2021 semester, Rebecca Rian won’t just have one associate degree – or two. Rebecca is majoring in Automotive Technology, Accounting, and Business Entrepreneurship at Bay.
“I’m a triple threat,” she said.
Rebecca’s time at Bay College began in the fall of 2006. Back then, she was still attending high school in Rapid River, MI, but she was able to take classes at Bay thanks to her school’s dual enrollment partnership with the college.
“They ran out of AP courses for us, so the next step was college-level,” she said.
In 2007, Rebecca graduated from high school and continued to take classes at Bay for a few more semesters. However, she had to drop out when she had trouble balancing her studies with her full-time job.
“I couldn’t do both, and unfortunately, buying food and surviving beat out college education,” she said.
About a decade later, things changed to the point where Rebecca was able to think about going back to college again – which she did in the fall 2018 semester. Since she made her return to Bay College, Rebecca said things have been going smoothly.
“I’ve been on the dean’s list every semester,” she said.
She has taken both online and in-person courses, both of which she has enjoyed – thanks largely to the attention her teachers have been able to dedicate to individual students.
“They’re always more than ready to help you out,” Rebecca said of her instructors.
Accounting was Rebecca’s first major, which she was pursuing even in the mid-2000s.
“I knew I wanted to do something with math,” she said.
Though she had long been interested in being a mechanic, Rebecca’s decision to pursue an automotive technology major came much later.
“As a girl, I was told that I shouldn’t be a mechanic – that it would be too hard of work for me,” she said.
In 2019, Rebecca went to Sands Speedway in Gwinn to watch her friends race. She said being in the pit during the races reignited her passion for automotive technology, and she decided to pursue her dreams as a result.
Though she did not have mechanical knowledge before her return to Bay, Rebecca said she has made a great deal of progress in recent years.
“I’ve learned a ton,” she said.
Rebecca plans to put her business entrepreneurship degree – along with her other two degrees – to use shortly after graduating from Bay College.
“When I leave Bay, I plan on taking over my uncle’s garage in Gladstone,” she said.
This garage, known as Jerry’s Service Center, has been owned by Jim Rian for about four decades. When she graduates, Rebecca will start working at Jerry’s Service Center full-time before eventually taking co-ownership or ownership of the business.
However, Rebecca noted this process could take some time – mostly due to Jim’s love of his job.
“My uncle loves (being a) mechanic, so who knows how long it’ll take to get him out of the garage,” she said.