Major: Individual Studies
Transfer Institution: State University of New York at Geneseo
Current Position: Assistant Curator
Current City: Houston, TX
Andrew Gustafson graduated from Jamestown Community College in May 2007 with a degree in individual studies. Since then, he's earned a B.A. in history from the State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.A. in history from the University of Houston. Andrew is currently the assistant curator for the Torch Collection, a private Texas history and culture museum and archive located in Houston, Texas.
Like many people, when Andrew graduated from high school he didn't know what exactly he wanted to major in or what type of career he wanted to pursue. Before graduating from Jamestown High School in 2005, he had been exposed to a variety of courses and was considering studying chemistry in college, although he enjoyed writing and had a passion for history as well.
"One great thing about JCC is the variety of courses that are available, and the degree plan for individual studies encouraged me to explore different subjects," he said. "I took introductory classes in a wide range of topics, and was able to see where my strengths lay." Even though Andrew enjoyed his science classes at JCC, his strengths and interests were in the humanities and that is what he ultimately pursued.
After Andrew graduated from JCC, two other major benefits about the college became apparent. "Although my classes were scattered across many different topics, I didn’t lose a single credit when I transferred to SUNY Geneseo in the fall of 2007: everything transferred without a problem," Andrew said. All of his classes also fit into the SUNY core classes requirements. "The classes I took at JCC laid the foundation for the next two degrees I earned."
Another benefit was financial. Since Andrew graduated from high school in the top 10% of his class, he received the USA scholarship from JCC, which meant that his tuition was free for two years. "I cannot praise this advantage enough because it was really the reason I was able to afford to go on to earn higher academic degrees," he stated.
"I was accepted to and could have attended larger, four-year schools directly out of high school, but the cost of tuition was ridiculously high—and for the same core classes that I took at JCC, too. Graduate school is very expensive, and if I had gone to a more expensive four-year school directly out of high school, I could not have easily afforded to work towards my master’s degree at the University of Houston.” While at UH, Andrew studied Tudor-Stuart English history and worked as a teaching assistant before pursuing his career as an assistant curator.
"My decision to attend JCC after high school is the reason why I am where I am today," Andrew said. "I have a great job in the competitive market of the fourth largest city in the United States. My experiences at JCC have allowed me to prosper six years after I started my associate’s there." Now, today, he is able to work with historical documents signed by Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, hang pieces of art by Andy Warhol and S. Seymour Thomas, and handle objects such as spurs from the "Wild West" era and saddles that were used in the Mexican Revolution. As he put it, “JCC really was the springboard I needed to get ahead."
Image used by permission of the Torch Collection, owned by Mr. J.P. Bryan, Jr.