Jason Casteel moved to Flagstaff from Phoenix about five years ago for a job. He didn’t realize that job would turn into a quest for a better career.
After a few years of working in manufacturing at W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Casteel realized that he wanted to advance within the company.
“The only way to move in the technical direction I wanted was to have a technical degree,” Casteel said.
In Spring 2009, Casteel enrolled at Coconino Community College for an introduction to computer information systems class. He had tried college in the past, but it never held his interest. This time, he was focused on attaining a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Being married with two children, working full-time and taking a full load of classes hasn’t been easy. Shortly after starting at CCC, Casteel applied for the CCC2NAU program, which provides student with intense academic advising to allow for a seamless transition from CCC to Northern Arizona University. The transition program has won national recognition for helping students succeed at CCC and NAU.
“You’ve heard horror stories about classes that either don’t transfer or transfer differently to the university,” Casteel said. “CCC2NAU set me on a straight path to transfer to NAU.”
Casteel, 34, transitioned to NAU in the fall 2012 semester.
“It has definitely been a learning experience,” he said. He’s finally taking the core classes he needs for his engineering degree, which he knows will open him up for many different types of opportunities.
Still, he hopes to eventually move up in the ranks at Gore, the company that encouraged and supported his desire for higher education.
“I love it there,” Casteel said of the medical device company which keeps its Arizona-base in Flagstaff. “It’s inspiring to be part of a company whose products either save or help improve lives.”
His goal is to have his engineering degree in fall 2015. Casteel gives this advice to anyone considering going back to school or thinking of changing careers.
“Go take the placement test at CCC and take a class,” he said. “I’d been out of school for 10 years. Try one class. Get your feet wet a little bit and soon after, you’ll be in the routine.”