Jerry Barthelemy: “All I have is an associate degree, and I make a great living.”
An Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology from Tidewater Community College was all Jerry Barthelemy needed to land a dream position at a leading construction and general contracting firm in Hampton Roads.
“All I have is an associate degree, and I make a great living,” said the Great Bridge High School graduate, a project manager at W.M. Jordan Company.
Convenience and affordability led him to TCC. On a whim, he enrolled in a civil engineering technology course taught by Ron Lauster, a TCC alum and project executive at W.M. Jordan.
Barthelemy flourished in the class, applying innovative problem-solving skills to real-world projects, such as building a deck on a budget.
“Come see me when you graduate,” Lauster wrote on one of his assignments.
After graduation, Lauster hired him as an office engineer. Barthelemy has since progressed to project manager.
His multiple construction projects in the region, each ranging from $15 million to $30 million, include the chapel and several dormitories at Christopher Newport University; the student center at Norfolk State University; the Goode Theatre at Old Dominion University; and Tyler Hall at the College of William & Mary to name a few.
Grateful for the foundation he received at TCC, he enjoyed learning from professors whose sole purpose is teaching instead of research.
“They were products of their field,” he said. “They’ve worked as engineers and project managers, boots on the ground.”
Barthelemy, 43, didn’t grow up planning for a college education. He is the first on his father’s side to graduate and needed the discipline TCC provided.
“If I had gone to a four-year directly out of high school, I think I would have partied too much and been kicked out,” he said.
Receiving a job offer from a former professor was also unexpected. “If I wouldn’t have gone to TCC and taken that class, I wouldn’t be where I am today. You never know where that opportunity is going to be,” he said.