Rock Valley College freshman Gunnar Verace considered all of his options before deciding the NIUEngineering@RVC program was right for him.
“During my senior year of high school, I thought I wanted to go to a big school,” Verace, a 2017 graduate of Auburn High School in Rockford, said. “I was taking trips out to big campuses, but I didn’t feel at home there. I didn’t feel like they could appreciate the uniqueness of each student; they’re just too big.
I started figuring in the logistics of traveling and the cost of room and board and realized the ability to stay at home while attending school would be a good choice for me.”
Verace learned he could earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northern Illinois University right on the campus of his local community college. Through a unique partnership between the schools, students spend all four years of their bachelor’s degree program on the RockValley Campus – two years as an RVC student and two years as an NIU student.
While he appreciates the cost savings and convenience of not having to leave his community to pursue his degree, it’s the opportunity towork and network in Rockford industries that has Verace excited.
“Internships are definitely my goal, and this program stresses internships,” he said. “UTC and Woodward are the big ones, but I’m also excited to find out about smaller companies and opportunities they might have. I definitely want to stay in the Rockford area and start a career here, and internships are an important way for companies to get to know students they might want to hire and vice versa.”