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James Doran: Back to the Classroom

Published 07/31/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 07/30/2013 12:56 PM

By Marji McClure
North Haven Courier

Most adults have experienced a career transition or two-these days, moving from one career field to another isn't unusual. North Haven resident James Doran had experienced such a career journey and now he is on yet another journey that he hopes will lead him to that next fulfilling stop on his career path.

James's current job is that of a full-time student at Gateway Community College pursuing an associate's degree in computer science.

James says his wife, Gai, suggested he go back to school and, as a veteran, James discovered the G.I. Bill would help him finance his education.

"But I had to be a full-time student," says James, so, in September 2012, James enrolled in the fall semester at Gateway.

He is taking a full slate of classes, including summer programs, and will finish the two-year program a little early. He is on track to earn his degree this December.

James recently received a scholarship from the North Haven Rotary Foundation.

"At first, it was scary," says James about getting back into the classroom. "You start thinking you're the oldest person in the classroom, but I had some great professors who helped me get back to school."

James' road back to school began as a youth in Bridgeport, raised by a single mother who was a narcotics detective for the Bridgeport Police Department.

"Growing up going to Catholic school and with your mother as a detective, it was a very structured environment," says James. "You learned how to fend for yourself. You never had a chance to feel sorry for yourself."

James graduated from Notre Dame High School in Fairfield in 1979 and immediately joined the Air Force, becoming a nuclear weapons technician. After leaving the service in 1985, James worked at Sikorsky Aircraft doing computer-aided design.

Eventually, that job was outsourced and James went back to school and worked part time at night at a traffic control center. He then did computer consulting for General Electric.

James's next job was working for a visiting nurse company in Fairfield.

"I supported the laptops for the nurses and physical therapists. They were required to take a laptop into the patients' homes," James explained. "The company had to make cutbacks and I was one of the cutbacks."

That was in June 2012. It was then that the idea to become a student again emerged. James is enjoying this role and looking forward to the career opportunities he is optimistic it will yield.

James says he is serious student.

"I'm a perfectionist. I'm always looking for an 'A,'" he says. "This is my job now and it's going to help me find a new job."

He is planning to continue his education once he receives his associate's degree and pursue a bachelor's degree. He's considering a future career in either computer science or the technical side of the medical field, in an area such as radiology.

In addition to his studies, James also volunteers at the veteran's hospital in West Haven. He helps out in the information security department. James says he enjoys spending time with fellow veterans.

"It's a camaraderie that I missed," says James. "That's what you have there. It's an instant respect for each other."

James says he was "very humbled and very grateful" to be awarded the scholarship by the Rotary.

"I could never say 'thank you' enough," he says.

While school is going well, James says life financially is difficult, so he is applying for part-time jobs he can do while he continues his studies.

"It's part of being a college student," says James of his search for part-time employment. "I know how to communicate with people. I have great interpersonal skills. There's probably not a system out there I can't learn."

James is determined to finish his education and find a new job. He credits his wife for inspiring him on his career journey. They have four children among them (this is his second marriage) and all the children are working on advanced college degrees and his wife is working on her master's degree.

"Education is big in my family," says James. "My wife has a lot to do with it. She got me there. She keeps me motivated."

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