Campus Closeup: Jeff Gagnon
NMU houses many programs designed to guide students through their college careers. Jeff Gagnon (Upward Bound) is a learning skills specialist, counselor and interim director for one such program: Upward Bound, a nationwide, university-based initiative that is funded by a federal grant from the Department of Education. It offers tutoring, workshops, and college preparatory services for local high school students who qualify.
Gagnon has been in his current position for eight years, but has been in the area for much longer. “I’ve lived in Marquette since kindergarten. I went through the public school system here and then stayed and got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern. Afterwards, this job opened up and I applied for it. Everything has just sort of fallen into place for me; I’m very lucky.”
Although Upward Bound’s summer program is a busy time for Gagnon, he remains active during the school year as well. His typical day circles around meetings and workshops. It includes communicating with high schools and students, working with colleges, handling issues that might come up between tutors and students, ensuring that the schedules of 65 students fit the schedules of 30 tutors, and planning for the upcoming summer, which includes taking Upward Bound students on an annual trip to a metropolitan area.
“A lot of these kids don’t have the opportunity to travel very often, so it’s amusing seeing their reactions to everything in the big cities.”
After he goes home, Gagnon spends his time biking, walking, reading, going to movies, traveling, attending and participating in theater, and being an uncle. “I have six nephews and nieces who are involved in sports and various other activities, and I like to go to all of these events so I can yell and embarrass them.”
His family, he said, is the main reason why he continues to live in the Upper Peninsula. “My whole family lives here, so there’s a tremendous level of comfort here for me. I was fortunate to have found a good job right after college in the area so that I could stay here with them.”
Gagnon’s favorite thing about NMU is the people. “The other professionals here are very easy to work with and are very accommodating. They help with workshops for our students and are the university’s biggest asset. NMU also has a good, dedicated work environment that I enjoy being a part of.”