NORFOLK, Neb. – Over the course of its nearly 50-year history, Northeast Community College has educated thousands of graduates, providing each of them with the tools they need to become productive members of America’s workforce. One individual who has personally witnessed this success wants others to understand how highly impactful the College has been to his family.
Larry Birch, MD, of Pierce, said when he and his family moved to the area in 1985, they knew very little about the work of Northeast Community College. But over the years, he came to work directly with Northeast and has also served as a physician for many of its employees. He calls the College a great asset to northeast and north central Nebraska.
“I want people to know about this school and its staff.” Dr. Birch said.
“The bottom line is I have found that Northeast (Community College) has served the area well and served my family’s educational needs excellently.”
Birch believes so highly in Northeast he asked to share his thoughts through a video, which was recorded in the College’s Media Arts – Broadcasting studio on the Norfolk campus earlier this summer.
Speaking in the seven-minute video posted on the College’s YouTube Channel, Birch explains how he and his family have benefitted from the College. His son, Nathan, began his collegiate education at Northeast, where he earned an associate degree; later transferring on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and then medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Nathan Birch is now a successful practicing physician and is also involved in the teaching and training of medical residents in Omaha. Birch said his son’s education at Northeast laid the groundwork for him to successfully complete medical school and pursue other opportunities afterward.
“My son, Nathan, and I have talked many times about what his experience at Northeast was like, and he says ‘It built a firm foundation.’ I (too) have come to think of Northeast in those terms,” he said. “I think many of our children and young adults in this country go off to college, get overwhelmed and wind up spending money they don't have, creating debt they can't pay. … I think we could handle that much better if we would look to schools like Northeast.”
Birch said his son noted that his basic science classes at Northeast, some taught by the late Roger Gipson, were so thorough and so complete that when Nathan arrived at UNL he was more than well prepared for his next level of studies.
In addition to their son, Birch and his wife, Mary, have seen their other children pursue careers in the medical field. Daughter, Libby, completed an associate of science degree at Northeast, then transferred to the UNMC College of Nursing in Omaha where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently working on a nurse practitioner’s degree. Son, Aaron, works as a clinical laboratory technologist at a hospital in Colorado.
Birch has also had the opportunity to get in the classroom at Northeast – and none of the classes have been close to medicine or science. He enrolled in three electromechanical classes - Fundamentals of Electricity, Fluid Fundamentals, and welding - as well as an agricultural class, Introduction to Soil Science. These classes were taken following retirement from his practice. Birch said they were rewarding for him.
“I enjoyed them immensely,” he said. “I was so impressed sitting in those desks listening to those people who taught those classes. Not only by their knowledge, but also their real, deep feelings for these young kids.”
Birch said Northeast employees are truly committed to their work and are dedicated to serving students. For a student who may be the first in their family to attend college as he was, Birch said it helps tremendously to go to a place they trust and be assured that people there take the time to guide them through and answer all of their questions.
“You have people here who have your best interests and your children's best interests at heart. They are a very integral part of this community and have provided incredible services. And I just want to tell them, ‘Thanks.’”
Speaking through the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Dr. Birch said he highly recommends Northeast Community College and encourages those with an interest to strongly look at making it as part of their educational experience.
“I want people to know about this place; I just think you're going to do well here. It's also very reasonably priced. … Northeast can provide the foundation, and a very solid one, for anything you want to do and your career options are unlimited.”
To view Birch’s video, visit the Northeast Community College YouTube Channel at youtube.com/watch?v=oirinRBz-4Y.