In 1972, Leon Bechard was among the first cohort of graduates from Nashua Community College – then known as the New Hampshire Vocational Technical College at Nashua.
“I went to the college in 1970 and graduated in 1972. I remember the school was not officially open, our first classes – my business machinist class was in a barn in Amherst, New Hampshire,” said Bechard.
“The college has changed quite a bit, all for the better. They are offering a broader curriculum, and the technology wonderful. I can remember with the marketing program, we had to learn on an adding machine.”
Three Generations of Graduates
He returned to Nashua Community College in May 2023 to attend a Celebration of Learning event, where his granddaughter, Chantel, had an Early Childhood Education presentation prepared.
Chantel Paradise is graduating May 19, 2023. “This is the third generation. My daughter came here and got her nursing degree, and her daughter, Chantel, is graduating this year in Early Childhood Education.”
Back in the 1970s, Leon Bechard was in the business program. He graduated high school in 1966, and then joined the US Air Force to serve during the Vietnam War. “When I got out, that’s when I realized that a high school education wasn’t going to cut it. I came here under the GI Bill, which was absolutely outstanding.”
After earning his associate degree, Bechard continued on to a bachelor’s program in Massachusetts. “I realized after that I wanted to go beyond my 2-year degree, so I went to what was Lowell Tech, at the time. I went nights, and it took me 5 years to get the other degree. It was a business degree – marketing and management here, and Business there.”
“I was not the best high school student. I knew I had the capability of learning, but getting back into a curriculum in general was difficult,” he said. “But I persevered, I was determined enough that I really needed an education. I was an Airframe Technician in the Air Force, and I realized that was not the career path I wanted to follow. I pursued the business degree because I wanted to get into sales, and I did. After I got my degree from Lowell, I went to work with the Dial Corporation for 11 years.”
Bechard stayed in the Greater Nashua area, between the City of Nashua and Hudson.
Advice for Future Students
Bechard also stressed the importance of money management. “There should be, even in high school, some sort of program to make sure the students can manage their money. They get a paycheck and they don’t know how to manage their paycheck. They don’t understand taxes. I think teaching money management would be good. Overall, that would benefit everybody.”
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