Class of 2013 Alumni Spotlights
– Posted Fall 2019
The New Kid on the Ladder
Timothy Buono is no stranger to the halls of BVT. As a graduate (Construction Technology), he knows his way around our campus.
After graduation, Timothy attended Fitchburg State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology. In college, he simultaneously worked construction jobs and for Koopman Lumber & Hardware in their Milford paint location. It was there that he had an opportunity to work with state of the art color matching technology and hone his painting skills.
Last fall, Timothy took a new career path and returned to BVT as a substitute teacher in our Painting & Design Technology program. He enjoyed working alongside instructors George Creely and Thomas Lamont. When George retired at the end of the school year, Timothy applied for and successfully secured that new position.
This summer, under Timothy’s skilled and watchful eye he led P&D students, senior Brady Smith, and junior Emma Thayer, to complete several painting projects. Thankfully, Timothy has no fear when it comes to new challenges (and heights). He safely went to the apex of the exterior sawdust collector and beautifully repainted the top sections.
Timothy is excited to take on his new position this fall and we’re so happy to have him join our staff!
Jennifer Lannon– Posted Fall 2017
Once overwhelmed, hesitant, and unsure of her future, Jen now approaches each day as a plumbing apprentice as an opportunity to learn more and continue breaking boundaries in a male-dominated field.
Overwhelmed. Hesitant. Unsure.
It’s a simple description of how Jennifer “Jen” Lannon felt walking through the maze of display tables boasting the majors offered at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI. Registered to be a freshman in the fall, Jen came to an important realization as she stood surrounded by excited co-eds at the orientation: college was not for her.
“I didn’t like the college experience,” she said. “I didn’t like living in a dorm, and none of the majors I thought I was interested in interested me enough to want to study them for four years.”
Deciding not to pursue a college degree was simple, but choosing a career path was difficult for the 2013 Business Technology graduate. She explored a variety of options including working as a personal trainer and completing an internship with the District Attorney’s
office, but neither experience inspired her.
“With both jobs, I thought ‘I like working out, but I don’t like being a personal trainer’ and ‘I like Law and Order, but I don’t like sitting in a courtroom,’” she said. “I was really stressed out trying to figure out what I wanted to do.”
As Jen struggled to find a career path to fit her passions, her father, John Lannon, was looking for a career change. The 1975 BVT graduate was tired of the stress and long hours associated with his work as a VP for JJ Bafaro, the plumbing company he worked at for 30 years.
“He said to me, ‘well, what about the trades?’ and I said, ‘well, what about them?’ Then he said, ‘well, what about plumbing?’ and I said ‘well, what about it?’” Jen said. “I had never even considered working in the field.”
John had experienced a lucrative career as a plumber. He has held a master plumbing license for more than 40 years, worked on his own, ran his own small business, and worked his way up the ranks of JJ Bafaro. He proposed starting a father-daughter owned and operated plumbing company. Jen would have dual responsibilities using her BVT education to run the business and learning the plumbing trade as his apprentice.
The father-daughter duo did exactly that taking their idea and turning it into Jen’s Plumbing & Heating. With two hours’ worth of work lined up, John and Jen moved to Sandwich, MA where they had owned a summer home before becoming full-time Cape Cod residents. They completed their first job — replacing a water heater in Osterville — on March 31, 2014.
“It was interesting because I had never seen anything like it, and I had never done anything like it before,” Jen said. “I knew the more I worked in the field the more I’d get the hang of it. It definitely got my attention watching things go from start to finish.”
A love of seeing projects through each stage to the final product was one she had previously discovered while working at Consigli Construction Co., Inc. through BVT’s cooperative education program. As a junior, Jen began her placement at the company bouncing throughout the office working with project management, marketing, accounting, business management, and engineering. During her senior year, she landed on a job site working directly with the project management team.
“When I was working at Consigli, I realized how fascinating it is watching a project from start to completion and everything that goes into it,” she said. “I got the construction bug.”
Now a registered plumbing apprentice, the construction bug is serving her well. Each day, she and her father set out to replace water heaters, complete the plumbing of new homes, repair leaks, and more throughout the Cape Cod region. Jen and John make an ideal team as he teaches her the ins and outs of the trade.
“She has a great work ethic and great people skills,” John said. “The one thing we’ve heard from the day we set up shop is that none of the plumbers call anybody back. Even if we can’t do it, we call them back and give them somebody else’s name. We make it a point to call people back, always the same day they call.”
Jen credits her time at BVT for teaching her the importance of customer service. Answering the phones in the Business Technology shop, working at the school store, and interacting with students and instructors taught her to value the customer experience by returning phone calls, beginning appointments on time, and responding to each job with a smile and friendly face.
There is one other factor Jen says helps her customers feel at ease with her — she is female.
“I think that our customers really appreciate that I am a female,” she said. “When we first started, my dad made a point that typically when we go to someone’s house for a service call a woman is home during the day, and usually the woman would be more comfortable with me showing up at the door versus your typical male plumber.”
Most of her customers are so comfortable with her in fact that they greet her at the door with a hug and offer her coffee and lunch while she is working in their homes. The relationships she’s built with customers has allowed Jen’s Plumbing & Heating to run without advertising.
“When we first started we did advertising. We placed an ad in the church bulletin, in the Cape Cod Times, in Prime Time Magazine, and we did BNI [Business Network International]. After spending all this money on advertising, we came to the conclusion that 90 percent of our business was word of mouth.”
Simply driving to different jobs in their work van with the pink logo Jen designed brought business to the company.
“We have a white truck with pink and blue letters and pink shirts and pink business cards. We capitalize on it being father-daughter owned and operated and a woman plumber,” she said. “The pink and blue shiny business cards, pink shirts… it’s just the little things that people appreciate.”
As a female in the plumbing trade, Jen will have a multitude of options once she receives her journeyman’s and master’s plumbing license. She and her father can choose to continue to be simply father-daughter operated, they can hire additional plumbers or apprentices, or Jen can choose to join a large corporation.
Jen’s career in the plumbing industry is bright as only 1.3 percent of all plumbers are female.
“A woman licensed plumber could get a job in a minute,” said John.
Jen will go for her journeyman’s license in early 2019. The journeyman’s license will allow Jen to work on her own in the field. One year after she earns her original license, Jen plans to go for the master’s license test, which will allow her to hire additional plumbers and apprentices.
“We’ve talked about getting a high school student who wants to go on a co-op program and working with him or her,” Jen said. “I think that’s the most important advice I’d give to students now. If you can get a job on co-op, get a job on co-op no matter what that job is. It will open so many doors for you.”
Confident. Focused. Determined.
It’s a simple description of how Jen feels walking up to a new jobsite ready to install or repair water lines, waste piping, vent piping, and more. More than three years into her apprenticeship, Jen and her father have turned their simple idea into a lucrative business and countless opportunities for Jen’s future.
Isabella Picard– Posted Fall 2015
One Step at a Time
Considering she once led the nation with a batting average of .877, it’s surprising to learn that softball is not a lifelong passion of Isabella “Bella” Picard. The younger sister of a star UCONN soccer player and U.S. Women’s National Team roster member, Bella grew up following in her sister’s foot-steps and dreamed of playing Division I soccer.But the 2013 Blackstone Valley Tech graduate’s dream came to a drastic halt in her sophomore year. Diagnosed with chronic compartment syndrome, Bella’s body rebelled against the sport she loved, and the constant running inherent to soccer began causing numbness in her feet and cutting off circulation to her legs.“The doctors said, ‘If you think you’re playing Division I soccer, you’re crazy,’ ” Bella recalls.Turns out, the doctors were only half right. It wouldn’t be on the soccer field, but Bella would indeed play at the pinnacle of college athletics. Forced to leave soccer behind, Bella listened to the encouragement of her friends, coaches, and Valley Tech teachers and administrators, and set her sights on softball.“The coaches told me I had a lot of potential and people were telling me I could do it. It was uplifting after having soccer ripped away.”Applying the same grit and determination she once brought to the soccer field, Bella soon emerged as an elite softball player. Junior year, she held the top batting average in the nation. Senior year, she helped Valley Tech capture its first state vocational softball title and signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I softball at Saint Joseph’s University.Little could Bella know, however, that becoming a Division I athlete would result in the unexpected challenge of a lifetime. In April 2015, during the first inning of a game against Fordham University, Bella’s head-first slide into second base resulted in a head-on collision with an opposing player’s knee. When she regained consciousness, Bella walked off the diamond, but experienced fatigue and numbness in her right arm. A CAT scan revealed that she had hyperextended her spinal cord and fractured her fifth cervical vertebra (C5).Days later, Bella lost sensation in the right side of her body, and a six-hour surgery to fuse her C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae ensued. When doctors told Bella that she would likely regain the ability to walk but would never return to the physical form of a Division I athlete, the diagnosis was met with an unexpected response.“My whole life, I’ve been into sports and doing things like teaching myself to juggle four balls, or get 518 juggles with my feet. So when I heard that I’ll never do those things again, I just laughed because those things are my life.”Defying her diagnosis would require Bella to approach physical therapy with the same tenacity that made her a Division I athlete in her second-choice sport. Fortunately for the BVT graduate, embracing a challenge was nothing new.“At BVT, if there was a challenge you didn’t think you could meet, you had the teachers, the staff, even Dr. Fitz [Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick], encouraging you to try. If you fail, so what? Nothing bad can happen if you try your hardest. BVT promotes that confidence in its students.”Mere months following her accident, Bella’s doctors have marveled at her “miraculous” progress, including her ability to walk with a walker and fully extend her right arm. Bella credits her recovery to her faith, family, friends, and supporters, and thanks Valley Tech for first showing her the power of healthy relationships.“BVT taught me that social skills are so important to success. Whether I’m a freshman at BVT meeting new people, or I’m paralyzed in a rehab hospital, those skills are crucial to life in general.”Although she knows the road to recovery will include more unexpected twists, turns, and detours, Bella remains certain that her beloved alma mater will be a frequent stop along the way. “BVT played a big part in who I am and is playing a big part now as I’m battling this unfortunate incident. I’m going to give back in any way I can. I’ll probably be walking those halls when I’m 80.” For Bella and those fortunate enough to know her, there is no doubt she will.
Roland Barrett, Luke Burgess, & Jason Driver– Posted Fall 2014Careers on the Cutting EdgeAs a worldwide leader in analytical technologies, the Waters Corporation of Milford is a pioneer in the areas of spectrometry, thermal analysis, and high-performance liquid chromatography. Not sure how something like high-performance liquid chromatography works? You’re not alone. Here’s a popular example used by Waters employees:Imagine pouring a small cup of light-and-sweet coffee into an Olympic-size swimming pool. By removing one microliter of the pool water (40 microliters fit on the head of a pin) and breaking it down to its basic molecular structure, the cutting-edge technologies designed and manufactured by the Waters Corp. could tell you exactly how many sugars were in that light-and-sweet coffee. In fact, through high-performance liquid chromatography, Waters could tell you the name and exact amount of every single chemical in your microliter of pool water.Pretty awesome, right? Three members of the Valley Tech Class of 2013 certainly think so.In their junior year at BVT, Manufacturing & Engineering Technology students Jason Driver of Upton, Roland Barrett of Millville, and Luke Burgess of Uxbridge enrolled in the co-op program and earned job placements with Waters Corp. Although Waters and BVT have a history of collaborating on the co-op program, the company’s growing influence in the fields of pharmaceuticals, food safety, bioanalysis, proteomics, and genomics had recently prompted a revamp of its co-op model.“We’re growing at a rapid rate,” explained Model Shop Manager Steve Boulay. “It’s very difficult to find qualified individuals out in the standard workforce, so we decided to reinvest ourselves in the co-op program with BVT.”Jason, Roland, and Luke were the first students to experience the revitalized Waters Corp. model, which incorporated highly-focused training during the final trimester of their junior year and throughout the summer to prepare the students for their senior year co-op experience. Succeeding in the demanding program, according to Roland Barrett, required both vocational-technical skills and academic knowledge.“We used trigonometry in the Manufacturing shop and we use it here every day,” Roland said. “You have to know a lot of math to do machining. Chemistry, too.”Following graduation, Roland, Jason, and Luke earned invitations to become full-time Waters Corp. employees.“They performed tremendously,” Boulay recalled, noting that the BVT students exhibited both the technical and interpersonal skills required of all Waters employees. “Professionalism, courtesy, and working in a team are huge here. You can be the best at what you do, but if you don’t get along with others, it’s not going to happen.”Roland, Jason, and Luke currently work full-time in the areas of valve cell manufacturing, model shop, and column manufacturing, respectively. Boulay works closest with Jason and has acquired a great deal of respect for the young man’s diverse skillset.“To hire a graduating student into the model shop is a big deal. If I could get 15 more applicants like him, I’d hire them all in a second,” Boulay said. “Jason is probably the best welder we’ve ever had and we’ve had people who have been welding for 20 years.”In response to Boulay’s high praise of his welding skills, Jason said, “I’m somewhat good...I wouldn’t say very good.”“He’s also a very modest young man,” Boulay added with a laugh.By getting their feet in the door through the BVT co-op program, Luke, Jason, and Roland have attained excellent jobs with room for advancement. Luke is currently working third shift at Waters Corp. and attending community college. Jason and Roland plan on getting degrees in Mechanical Engineering and advancing within Waters as engineers, designers, and/or managers. When the time comes to pay for college tuition, the young men will have no problem finding a willing investor.“Whatever you plan to go to school for, if there’s a related position in our business, Waters is willing to fund your education,” Boulay explained.Until then, Jason and Roland are happy to wake up and go to work each day, even if their alarm clocks go off around 4 and 5 a.m. Whatever the future holds, the graduates are grateful to the Valley Tech co-op program for putting them on the path to high-paying, high-skilled, and high- demand positions in a world-class company.I told every single freshman and sophomore that I worked with to get on co-op,” Roland said. “It’s worth it.”
Andrew Desjardin– Posted Fall 2013
Meet Andrew Desjardin of Uxbridge...recently named USA’s best welding student, although it was far from his mind when he entered BVT. He had no idea that he loved welding, but he did know that he wanted to work with his hands.
“I was looking for a trade that would get me somewhere in life. I wasn’t sure that college was in my future, so coming to BVT and focusing on a trade seemed like a perfect fit for me.”
Entering the ninth-grade exploratory program, Andrew expected to enroll in either Auto Tech or Auto Body. But as he explored the various career paths, he was surprised at his growing interest in welding. “Welding was almost entertaining. It’s cool that you can bond metal together so easily. You have to have a steady hand and be able to really concentrate, almost like a surgeon.”
Motivated by his emerging passion, Andrew enrolled in Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, and displayed a natural aptitude for welding. Andrew’s instructors encouraged him to put his skills to the test in the Skills-USA competition. In his third year competing, Andrew earned a gold medal at the state level and became the first Massachusetts student to win the national gold medal in welding.
The accomplishment, according to Andrew, would not have been possible without a lesson in dedication from BVT. “At times, it was difficult to keep motivated, when I might rather be out doing something with my friends. But instead, I came in after school and on the weekends, and I put in the extra time. I’m glad I did. It’s true what they say…hard work really pays off.”
For Andrew, hard work paid off not only in gold medals, but also in the form of career opportunities. Following graduation, Andrew began working as a welder on government contracts and remains confident in his future.
“My new employers were impressed by what I’ve accomplished at BVT and by how well I present myself. Blackstone Valley Tech prepared me for the real world. I’m grateful I ended up taking the path that I did.”
Alex Delmore– Posted Fall 2013
Say hello to Alex Delmore of Milford...our wicked smart 2013 Valedictorian whose career plans changed from C.P.A. to M.I.T.
Attracted to BVT by its offer of a rigorous academic and vocational technical education, Alex’s goal of becoming a certified public accountant led her to enroll in the Business Technology program. But as she gained a sound understanding of accounting principles and skills, Alex began looking for new challenges through her academic studies and extracurricular activities. She enrolled in various AP courses, joined the Leo Club and took part in SkillsUSA and robotics competitions. The more she experienced, the more Alex realized that accounting was not the field for her.
“What I loved the most was math and science, especially physics. Physics was the class that made me study the most and work the hardest. I loved it! I wanted to go above and beyond.”
Encouraged by her BVT teachers, Alex embraced her new found love of math and science and soon knew for sure that she wanted to pursue a career in physics. When it came time to apply to colleges, Alex’s teachers encouraged her to “go above and beyond” by applying to the country’s best schools. Although hesitant, Alex took her teachers’ advice and was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as her backup schools of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and UMass Amherst.
Heading into her first semester at M.I.T. (which has an undergraduate admissions rate of 9%), Alex is grateful to BVT for helping her discover her true passion and proper career path. In her Valedictorian’s speech, Alex encouraged her fellow BVT grads to join her in embracing the school’s lasting impact on their lives.
“If I hadn’t gone to BVT and hadn’t explored so many different options, career paths and clubs, I wouldn’t have ended up so certain that I want to pursue math and science. My experience at BVT contributed so much to my certainty going forward.”
Cody Saucier– Posted Fall 2013
This is Cody Saucier of Sutton…by the time he started first grade, he had already overcome more obstacles than many people face in a lifetime. Born four months premature, Cody weighed in at a mere one-pound and was unlikely to live, but he proved the doctors wrong. Facing the effects of his premature birth and mild cerebral palsy, Cody embarked on a childhood full of various surgeries and procedures.
Perhaps his early ability to overcome the odds explains why Cody loves a good challenge. In elementary and middle school, Cody took pride in his perfect attendance and good grades. Cody’s passion for learning led him to enroll in BVT.
“I came to BVT because it offers an academic program and a vocational technical program. It’s like getting two educations at once.” For Cody, however, getting two educations wasn’t quite challenging enough. “I wanted to make the BVT Commendation List every year. That’s what I set out to do.”
As a freshman, Cody struggled with the rigor of BVT, but his teachers united and formed a plan to help him adjust. Cody’s academic performance improved and he earned a spot on the Commendation List in eleven of his twelve trimesters. As for the one trimester in which he missed his goal, Cody was only one GPA point shy of completing his perfect Commendation List streak.
Amazingly, the streak of perfect attendance that Cody began in elementary school continued at BVT. At the annual Senior Awards Ceremony, Principal Anthony Steele informed the audience that Cody’s perfect attendance included not only his time at BVT but also his entire educational career. The crowd of over 600 people honored Cody with a standing ovation.
No matter what challenges the future brings, Cody has already proven that his perseverance will lead him to success, and he remains admirably humble. “I just really like school. Blackstone Valley Tech has provided me with a sense of independence, leadership, and dedication to my work. If I wasn’t dedicated, I wouldn’t be here.”