Britt Gilley, of Charlotte, a graduate of Surry Community College, now works in medical labs and is making great strides in developing her career.
Gilley graduated from East Surry High School in 2008 and then attended Surry Community College to begin her university education. She earned an Associate of Arts degree and took additional prerequisite courses that helped her get a head start in college.
“I had never liked a biology class until I took Biology II with Karl Bretz at CSC. He’s the reason I majored in science, learned to love science, and am a working scientist today,” Gilley said. “His biology course was taught with more passion and rigor than I have encountered in many courses at a four-year college. It provided ample opportunity to dissect various animal specimens, took us taking nature walks to observe plants and animals in their natural environment, and entrusted us with challenging research assignments and practical exams that prepared me for further studies in science.
After graduating from CSC, Gilley transferred to Appalachian State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Anthropology. There she was a member of the Estep Genetics Laboratory, where she assisted in conservation genetics research of rare and endangered plants in Appalachia.
Gilley returned to CSC in 2019 to complete prerequisite courses for the Medical Laboratory Science Certificate Program at the Carolina College of Health Sciences. Back at CSC, she received support from Becky Critz, her microbiology teacher.
“Ms. Critz teaches a course on par with those at the university level. She consistently provides hands-on learning opportunities for her students, most of whom are preparing to enter the medical field,” Gilley said. a former medical laboratory scientist herself, she mentored me while I researched programs, wrote several letters of recommendation for me, and followed me to encourage me through my continuing studies. instrumental in my success at every stage of transitioning into the medical field from academia.”
Gilley is a Certified Medical Laboratory Scientist with the American Society for Clinical Pathology and works for Atrium Health. She plans to work in the lab for a few more years as an itinerant technician and to pursue her master’s degree in health sciences within five years. She hopes to one day return to a community college as a science teacher.
Gilley reflects fondly on his time at Surry Community College. “Having professors who are invested in your success, providing research opportunities in the first or second year of college allows students to have a head start when they reach university. The small class sizes, passion for the subject and hands-on labs provided are unparalleled, especially for the affordable cost of attending Surry,” she said.
She adds, “I’m very grateful that I spent the early years of my college career at Surry rather than going to college immediately after high school. The experiences I had and the money I saved by choosing a community college continue to be rewarding, allowing me to invest in pursuing higher education.
Gilley lives with her partner, Nick, who recently retired from the Army National Guard, and their dog, Charlie. She enjoys hiking, reading, skating, botany, the beach and marine biology. She jokes that “every scientist secretly wants to be a marine biologist.”
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