Playing to Win
Rarely do full-time “non-traditional” students, who typically have hectic work and family schedules, engage in university extracurricular activities. Garrett Alley is a notable exception. A UMA student taking classes at the University College center in Rockland and at the Augusta campus, Alley plays for the UMA men’s basketball team, where he is making a positive contribution.
According to Coach Jim Ford, Alley is a valuable addition to UMA’s front court. “Alley will gain more playing time as he adjusts to the speed and physical play of college basketball,” said Ford. “It’s wonderful to have him, at age 29, completing his degree program at UMA and enjoying the basketball experience.”
It’s not that Alley’s life isn’t already full. His roles as full-time parent, full-time student, and now athlete, have left him little time for much else. How does he manage? Alley’s positive outlook seems to fuel his ambition.
“I find inspiration in the little things, and I’m motivated by knowing how lucky I am to be where I am today,” said Alley. “My son, family and friends are so supportive and proud of what I am doing that I feel like it’s all a piece of cake. It’s all about putting things into perspective, managing your time wisely, and being disciplined when it comes to your priorities.”
Still, Alley worked hard to arrive at this place. After graduating from Medomak Valley High School in 2001, he labored as a stone mason for six years and then took on a year-long stint on a lobster boat. From 2007 to 2010, Alley worked for a marine construction company. It was there that he began to consider the physical and mental toll the hard physical labor and daily risk of injury was having on himself and his coworkers.
“In all honesty, I loved my job, but I realized I could do so much more with my life by obtaining an education. By using my brain instead of my body to make a living, I could exponentially increase my quality of, living. So one day in 2009 I decided to go to the Rockland site, which is only a mile from my home, and enroll in college.”
University College at Rockland offers classes from Maine’s universities on-site, online and through other distance learning modes. Known as “URock,” the center enrolls more than 600 students from the mid-coast region and offers access to dozens of university degree programs.
“What I like best about URock is how caring and supportive the staff is and also the atmosphere that gives me the ability to learn at my own pace,” said Alley.
Enrolled in UMA’s A.S. in Medical Laboratory Technician program, Alley also has decided to work towards a B.A. in Biology. He is exploring careers in cancer research and nanotechnology, fields where he can be on “the front lines of modern medicine, to make an impact on how we treat disease in the future.”
In the meantime, Alley is focused on making a difference not only in his own life, but in the lives of those around him.
“I love a challenge, and the thought of my son seeing his Daddy playing college basketball feels like I’m giving him the inspiration to do great things. And that is my primary motivation in life, not only for my son, but for everyone else in my life to understand that with enough heart and willpower, anything is possible. Your life is what you make it.”