‘How cool is that?’: Stafford Tech graduates are given a mission

Photo by Cindy Dunigan

By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer

A Stafford Technical Center alumna told its 2018 graduates that the key to success is to keep learning.

Andrea Shahan, who delivered the keynote address Friday at the school’s annual awards ceremony, graduated from Stafford’s health careers program in 2004. She moved back to Vermont after her daughter was born in 2014, and returned to Stafford to enroll in its phlebotomy program, in which she now teaches.

She opened by congratulating this year’s graduates.

“With all the negativity and distraction in the world today, you guys really put your hard work into everything you’re doing,” she said.

Shahan recalled starting at Stafford as a high school junior in 2002, and how teachers took scary subjects and made them seem fun, seeing potential in students and pushing them. As a senior, she said, she was working as a licensed nursing assistant while completing her graduation credits.

“How cool is that?” she said. “I got my first job through Stafford, which started out as a job shadow.”

Shahan said she moved to North Carolina in 2006, and that she became an IV technician, and from there began specializing in drawing blood, work she continued when she moved back to Vermont to be closer to her family.

“I’ve been drawing blood for many years,” she said. “I felt like I had the skills, but what I really wanted was the educational piece.”

So, she said, she signed up for Stafford’s phlebotomy course. After she finished, she was asked to co-teach it and then offered a full-time job.

Shahan encouraged the graduates to get jobs right away.

“Start working,” she said. “Build your résumé. Whether you’re bagging groceries in a grocery store or you’re lucky enough to get a job in the field you want to do, work your butt off.”

She also told them to remember that people are always watching them, and to behave professionally.

“Always be kind in everything you do and, I promise you, it will pay off,” she said.

Most importantly, she said, never stop learning.

“Even at the age of 32 … I am always looking to learn something new,” she said.