For Jake Gallagher, who graduated from Howard Community College in 2016 with an associate degree in general business administration and management, the Silas Craft Collegians Program was not just a community of students, but “a home base.”
“Colleges can be pretty big and overwhelming with lots of people, but when you have the Silas Craft program, you have people you know and can talk to, some who are in the same classes, and some you can do homework together with, or talk about what’s going on,” he says.
As a high schooler, Gallagher initially thought that college was not the right fit for his future. But after learning about the Silas Craft Collegians program, he found the description resonated with him. “I didn’t do terrible in high school, but didn’t do nearly as well as I could have,” he says. “When I came into Silas Craft Collegians, it helped me to lock down my academics, build my professional side, and succeed.”
After attending HCC as a Silas Craft Collegian and STEM Scholar, he not only achieved his associate degree but also went on to attend the University of Maryland and earn a bachelor’s in business management in 2018. He now works as an assistant superintendent for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, a national construction management and general contracting company.
“Thanks to Silas Craft Collegians, I was able to pursue my dreams and achieve every goal that I set in college and for my career,” Gallagher says.
As part of the program, weekly tutoring sessions helped him stay on track with classes. Financial assistance helped ensure that more time could be devoted to studying than working to pay bills. Discussions with peers and mentors provided guidance and encouragement through changes in majors and courses. And seminars—covering topics ranging from communication styles to differences between introverts and extroverts to developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals—gave Gallagher insight that proved helpful even out of college.
“You might think that learning about setting SMART goals is kind of boring,” he says. “But once you come out of school, you can start using those SMART goals to help you in your personal life or in your work, making sure that everything aligns the way you want it to.”
Thanks to HCC, Gallagher’s experience with higher education helped him gain valuable knowledge about managing people and projects that he uses in his everyday work managing complex construction projects, schedules, and subcontractors.
“You can learn a lot of different aspects of construction out in the field,” Gallgher says. “But studying business management taught me details and financials that I would not have learned in the field that have turned out to be valuable in my job.”
It’s hard to imagine what college would have been like without the Silas Craft Collegians Program because of the many ways it has left a lasting impact, according to Gallagher.
“The program provides so many resources for students at HCC to keep growing in their education and their development as a person,” he says. “I’m a better person because of it. The Silas Craft program gave me confidence to keep putting in the effort that I needed to succeed in my studies and introduced me to people with a lot of heart and many backgrounds. It gave me a home base.”