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Morrisville State College Student Remodels College's Building at Great New York State Fair, Participates in Summer Internship

MORRISVILLE, NY—While most of his fellow classmates were heading home for summer break and a hiatus from the books and college grind, Brian Brown was making plans to stay.

The Morrisville State College residential construction student took on a summer project and an internship to earn money for college and to gain skills toward his future career as a builder.

Brown’s been remodeling the interior of the college’s free standing building at The Great New York State Fairgrounds in addition to working a full-time internship on-campus in the Physical Plant Department.

Wielding a hammer and construction tools wasn’t what the 30-year-old Hamilton resident, who already has an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences: social science from the college’s Norwich campus, had in mind as a career while growing up.

His sights were set on working in law enforcement but his prowess as a handy-man lured him back to school to train for a career in building.

Returning to the classroom caused plenty of trepidation at first—especially fears of being an adult student and taking math classes, but those dissipated quickly once he stepped back onto campus.

Brown’s decision is paying off. He’s gaining hands-on experience through the residential construction program that will prepare him to jump right into the field. His State Fair undertaking satisfies a course requirement in a Special Projects class taught by Bruce Revette, assistant professor of residential construction.

The youngest of nine children and the only one to head to college, Brown grew up on a dairy farm in Norwich, N.Y., where he was a jack-of-all-trades, learning how to milk cows and fix fences and other types of equipment.

More experience came through working side jobs in his community including roofing, siding and painting.

Variety is what Brown finds most appealing about residential construction.

“I chose a degree where I can gain broad-based knowledge of many fields such as electrical, framing and plumbing,” said Brown, who eventually wants to teach a building trade.

He’s also learning about the business end of the industry, acquiring integral business skills through coursework in business law, employee supervision, accounting and even public speaking.

Everything Brown is learning is coming in handy—especially at the college’s fair building where he dismantled fences, removed shingled overhangs and added siding.

“Brian’s hard work, enthusiasm and resourcefulness are reflected in the building,” Jessica DeCerce, director of Public Relations at Morrisville State College and coordinator of the college’s involvement at the fair, said. “We are very happy with his finished product.”

The construction-minded artisan did nearly all of the work himself.

“Doing this on my own has given me a sense of pride, accomplishment and confidence applying what I learned in class,” Brown said.

It isn’t only skill that has laid the foundation for Brown’s determination to succeed.

“He is a very driven student,” Revette said. “Throughout this project, he has been dependable and focused.”

Driving and inspiring Brown to reach even farther is his three-year-old daughter, Phoenix.

“She is the highlight of my life and one of the greatest reasons I pursue my dreams,” he said.

Brown’s placing the finishing touches on the State Fair building this summer, sprucing it up with siding and adding a gleaming coat of paint to its walls.

Fair-goers will have the chance to see Brown’s work during The State Fair, which runs August 21 through September 1. The building, located near Gate 4, will be filled with horses, a student-constructed canoe, exhibits that showcase Morrisville State College’s academic programs and much more.

Brown is the son of Nancy and Bernard Brown, of Norwich, N.Y.

Morrisville State College’s residential construction program is designed to provide graduates with the background, experience and knowledge of materials and techniques for a successful career in any segment of the residential construction industry. Hands-on experience is emphasized through coursework in construction techniques, energy systems, sanitation, masonry systems, foundation concepts and surveying. Students receive an associate in occupational studies (A.O.S.) degree. The program is a ThinkPad curriculum in which the use of laptop computers is integrated into courses.

Upon graduation, students’ employment opportunities include working as an estimator, home inspector, job scheduler, job supervisor, materials purchasing agent or material distribution agent. Students may also become involved with retail and contractor sales or real estate development, or begin their own businesses as contractors.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in business, computer technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice, and human services to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.