Spotlight on Our Graduates – Class of 2008
Kurt Gough & Michael Gough
Father and Son Graduate Together
Kurt Gough (left) and Michael Gough
Two generations of a Wayne family received their diplomas May 22 at the Passaic County Community College 36th Commencement. Kurt and Michael Gough – father and son – will both earned an associate’s degree in fire science “It’s really fantastic,” said Kurt, owner of a printing firm. “This was my first college experience,” explained the 50-year-old, who attended classes at the Wayne and Wanaque campuses. A dedicated volunteer of Wayne Fire Company No. 3 for over 30 years, Kurt said he decided to enroll in college in 2001, shortly after the 9-11 attacks. “As a firefighter, that reinforced my decision,” he said.
Michael, 21, thinks it is “pretty cool” to be graduating with his dad. “We had some classes together, shared notes, and studied together,” he said. Both also graduate with honors. It’s not surprising the pair would be such compatible graduates, since they are accustomed to working as a team. Michael is employed part-time in his father’s print shop and has been a member of the same fire department for six years.
Alumni of Wayne Hills High School - Kurt graduated in 1976 and Michael in 2005 – both hope to explore other aspects of the firefighting profession, possibly as fire inspectors. “It’s in the blood,” said Kurt whose father, uncle, and brothers had also been firefighters. Apparently, non-traditional education also runs in the family. Sharon Gough, Kurt’s wife and Michael’s mom, had returned to school later in life to become a registered nurse. She now works at Chilton Memorial Hospital and also serves as a volunteer EMT in Wayne.
Though Kurt has no immediate plans to pursue a four-year degree, he said the experience at PCCC has been so rewarding, he might well consider taking more courses in the future. “The fire science classes were great, but I also enjoyed my other courses,” he noted. Kurt is especially enthusiastic about a creative writing course he took. “Everyone else in the group was 18 or 19, but we all got along great,” he said. Michael will continue his education, working towards a bachelor’s degree in fire science, at New Jersey City University in Jersey City.
It was primarily the fire science program that inspired Michael to follow his dad to PCCC. “It’s one of the best programs in the country,” he said. “The College is also convenient for me, so that made it even better.” Though other courses attracted his interest, especially criminal justice, Michael’s decision to make firefighting his career remains unchanged. “It feels good to save someone’s property…sometimes, even their life,” he explained. “It just feels so worthwhile.”
Though he admits the reality of danger is “always at the back of your mind,” Michael is undeterred by that. “Firefighting is a brotherhood; everyone looks out for one another,” he affirmed.
Passaic County Community College: Pride in Our Graduates