USA Today Highlights Tim Semonich ’15 in ‘Stopout’ Story
Connections, Ambition Help Moravian Junior Succeed Second Time Around
Junior Tim Semonich’s first college experience lasted all of two weeks before he promptly dropped out of Northampton Community College (NCC). Years later, Semonich, 24, is Moravian’s newly elected United Student Government president, as well as the epitome of an ongoing trend in higher education, at least according to a recent USA Today article.
According to the national publication’s Nov. 21 story, titled “Are you a college 'stopout?' New study says you might be,” a Florida State University study revealed that nearly 94% of community college students drop out of college only to re-enroll. Semonich was one of four “stopout” students highlighted by the USA Today, and the online article briefly touched on his inspirational journey. To read the full story, click here.
Prior to his first enrollment at NCC, Semonich admits his career trajectory wasn’t pointed in the right direction. Having moved out of his house at 16, he bounced around high schools until graduating – barely, he admits – from Liberty High School. The accomplishment meant so little at the time he didn’t even attend the graduation ceremony.
After dropping out of NCC, Semonich manned a forklift at an automobile parts warehouse in the Lehigh Valley, daydreaming about becoming a musician. “I’ve told my story hundreds of times, and this is the part I always like to leave out because it’s embarrassing,” explained Semonich of his musical aspirations. “I was chasing a music career and working to pay for studio time.” This statement he punctuated by shaking his head ever so slightly.
During one ordinary day at the warehouse, Semonich realized his job and music career dream were leading him nowhere and abruptly quit both. “I realized this was my future if I didn’t leave so I literally quit in the middle of my lunch break,” he recalled. “I told them I had to go.”
Two years after his first attempt at college, Semonich re-enrolled at NCC with financial assistance from his then girlfriend. “Was it tough to go back? Well, no,” he recalled. “I was motivated at that point. There wasn’t anything else out there for me. It was either do this or do nothing.”
I just feel like I’ve had a headstart on life, with more life experiences to draw from.”
– Tim Semonich ’15
Semonich credits his NCC professors for taking interest in him, giving him the self-confidence to succeed. He also made the conscious decision to say “yes” to opportunities, making an effort to get involved and make personal connections, which he noted in the USA Today article. This eventually led to a run for NCC student president, a position he held for two terms.
NCC made it a point to share Semonich’s story having him address several groups on campus, including dignitaries at the inauguration ceremony for NCC president Mark Erickson. Erickson eventually became one of Semonich’s mentors. During the inauguration event, Semonich was introduced to former Moravian president Christopher Thomforde, and they too quickly connected. Months later, when considering where to continue his education next, Semovich was pointed to Moravian by Erickson and Thomforde.
“I received a good amount off of tuition, which played a role in the decision,” Semonich said. “But Moravian was a smaller college, and it provided more of an opportunity to get involved.”
After enrolling this fall, he wasted little time jumping into the community, running and winning the USG president seat, with Nick Roberts ’15 acting as his vice president. Additionally, the non-traditional student, who lives in the H.I.L.L., has become an active member in the Omicron Gamma Omega fraternity. “Although I’m 24, it really hasn’t been a tough transition,” Semonich said of his arrival on campus. “I just feel like I’ve had a headstart on life, with more life experiences to draw from.”
“Tim’s past is really a story about how no matter what life throws at you, you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps and keep marching forward,” Roberts explained. “What he has overcome really shows his character.”
Semonich, a political science/management major, doesn’t mind the “stopout” label. “If that term brings attention to the subject, then sure, I’m fine with it,” he said. “My advice for others who have dropped out is easy: just go back. Education is key. But it’s not about the degree, it’s about how you are changing your community.”
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