Brett Gilley, from Charlotte, graduated from Syrian Community College, now works in medical laboratories and is moving towards developing her career even further.
Gilly graduated from East Surry High School in 2008 and then attended Surry Community College to start her undergraduate education. She obtained an Associate of Arts and took additional basic classes which helped her gain a lead in a university.
“I never really enjoyed a biology course until I entered Biology 2 with Carl Pritz at SCC. It’s the reason I majored in science, loved science, and that I am a working scientist today,” Gilley said. “His biology course was taught with more passion and rigor than I encountered in Many courses in a four-year university. It provided many opportunities to dissect different animal specimens, take us on nature walks to observe plants and animals in their natural habitats, and assign challenging research papers and practical exams that prepared me for further study in the sciences.”
After graduating from SCC, Gilly transferred to Appalachian State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Anthropology. There, she was a member of the Estep Genes Laboratory, assisting in conservation genetics research of rare and endangered plants in Appalachia.
Gilly returned to SCC in 2019 to take the prerequisites for the Medical Laboratory Science Certificate Program at the Carolina College of Health Sciences. Back at SCC, she was supported by Becky Critz, a microbiology teacher.
“Mrs. Cretz teaches a course on par with those at the undergraduate level. She provides continuing practical learning opportunities for her students, most of whom are preparing to enter the medical field,” said Jelly. “As a former medical laboratory scientist, she has guided me as I researched programs. , and wrote multiple letters of recommendation to me, and encouraged me throughout my continuing studies. She has been instrumental in my success at every step of moving into the medical field from academia.”
Gilly is a clinical laboratory scientist accredited by the American Society of Clinical Pathology and works at Atrium Health. She plans to work in the lab for a few more years as an itinerant technician and pursue a master’s degree in health sciences over the next five years. She hopes to one day return to a community college as a science instructor.
Jelly looks back on her time at Syrian Community College fondly. “Having professors invested in your success, and providing research opportunities in the first or second year of college allows students to be ahead of the curve when they get to university. The small class sizes, passion for the subject, and hands-on labs offered are unmatched, especially for the affordable cost of attending Surry,”
She adds, “I am so grateful that I spent the early years of my academic career in Surry rather than attending university straight out of high school. The experiences I had and the money I saved by choosing a community college are still rewarding, allowing me to invest in the pursuit of advanced degrees.” .
Gilly lives with her partner Nick, who recently retired from the Army National Guard, and their dog, Charlie. She enjoys walking, reading, skiing, botany, the beach, and marine biology. She jokes, “Every scientist secretly wants to be a marine biologist.”