NPC salutes Outstanding Alumnus - Jamison Bellucci
Lifelong learning and graduating from college are family traditions for Northland Pioneer College alumnus Jamison Bellucci. You can hear the excitement in his voice as he talks about lifelong learning and his opportunity to get back into the classroom to complete his master's degree in world history.
Bellucci was presented an Outstanding Alumnus Award at the Jan. 20, 2009 meeting of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board for continuing his education and for promoting lifelong learning.
"I've experienced how community colleges can change lives and I want to be a part, sharing my love for world history," he said. His mother, Karen Deaton, is retired after a long career as a special education elementary school teacher. Step-dad John Deaton has taught sociology and political science at NPC since 1979. His late father, Dominck, was a brick-layer and restaurant owner in Jamison's birthplace of Champaign, Illinois.
"Mom and John inspired me to become a teacher." An industrial accident is postponing his plans to traverse the globe in his own sailboat. But it is also giving him time to enter graduate school and complete his master's degree in world history.
After graduating from Blue Ridge High School in 1992, Bellucci followed in his older sister Jennifer's footsteps and enrolled at NPC to obtain his Associate of Arts degree in 1994. And his younger two siblings - Adam (an editor with the FOX television station in Tucson) and Ashley (currently an NPC nursing student) -followed in his footsteps.
"I always considered NPC as a stepping stone to my future educational goals. I received a quality education and my instructors inspired me to become a world history teacher at the community college level," commented Bellucci.
After two years at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and still undecided about a career, Jamison decided to travel the world for some "true life" experiences. After stops in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, and several points in Europe, including Germany and Austria, he settled in Maui, Hawaii.
Sailing and the sea have dominated his life for the past dozen or so years. But there is an underlying desire to keep learning - to better himself from crewman to private charter boat captain, and to see, first-hand, the peoples of the world.
Starting as a crewman on the tourist "cattle" charter tours, he worked on his Merchant Marine license and landed a slot with a private charter service. He is now "Captain Bellucci," qualified to pilot up to 100 tons, mastering a 65-foot catamaran for private day sailing, whale-watching and diving trips out of Maui. Bellucci owns his own Columbia 36-foot sailboat, moving a step closer to the round-the-world voyage. He also completed his bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Hawaii in 2007. Last year he passed the real estate exam and is now a licensed realtor in Hawaii.
On one of those charters, the boat ran into bad weather, and Bellucci was injured while saving the $4 million craft for his boss. That injury, the resulting surgery and recovery time, brought him back to the White Mountains and family for the first time in nearly 14 years.
His physical therapists told him it would be a year or more for recovery. So he applied for graduate school at the University of Hawaii and plans to return to the classroom this fall. "Taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) was tough. I hadn't done (college) math for nearly 15 years. But my scores are high enough to get into the master's program." He's been accepted and will be moving from Maui to Honolulu.
Traversing the globe in your own sailboat is an impossible dream for most people. But it remains Number 1 on Bellucci's goals, right after he completes his master's degree in world history and while he is "still young and agile enough to climb the mast to untangle the sails or rigging."
As the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award Bellucci received a three-credit-hour tuition waiver, and a gift certificate to be used in the college bookstore, along with a pass to NPC Performing Arts events.
The Outstanding Alumnus Award Program honors NPC students for being examples of lifelong learning or are using their education to improve their communities. To nominate former NPC students for the award, click here. To read about other Outstanding Alumni, click here.