Photo of UC Saco student, Mark Purvis

Spotlight on Mark Purvis

University College recently sat down with new student Mark Purvis to find out what it was like to start college. Mark is a Cybersecurity major through the University of Maine at Augusta. He lives in Saco and is the father of two. Mark comes from a management background in the field of event planning and worked for many years as an event planner and organizer in a higher education setting and for a private event planner. He took time to describe his initial experience with college and University College.

What was the driving force for you to go to college?

My kids. I wanted to provide a better future for them. I am disabled and with my physical disability and the work limitations that my doctors put on me drove me in a different direction. I don’t want to be on disability forever. Basically, if I didn’t stop stop in here and speak with Joe this might not have happened. He was very relatable. Other online colleges didn’t give me the same feeling or response. I felt that University College wanted to help. It was that personal touch.

How did you hear about University College?

Walking by the center. I walk by here every day and I said why not stop and find out more, especially since I was looking at applying to other online schools. I had already signed up at another institution, but I felt like they just wanted my money. They didn’t have that personal attention. I felt my money was in the right place at UC.

Why did you decide to major in Cybersecurity?

I’ve always been interested in computers. From the time in the 80’s when computers really started taking off in the home. I looked at the degree and thought it was a non-physical degree and the degree just felt right. It was between cybersecurity and business management. I felt the cybersecurity degree was something I could accomplish.

Growing up, did you always see college as an option?

I did, but it always seemed insurmountable. My mother always told me “Mark you’re just way too smart not to go to college”. I always thought about it but there never seemed to be enough time. I went right to work when I graduated from high school. I wish I had gone to college directly out of school, but it seemed out of reach. For a long time that’s the way I looked at it. I felt college was too much money at the time.

What’s been the most challenging part of being a new student?

The workload, my kids and my homelife. Trying to find the balance and be better about time management. I’ve discovered that my school work time is after the kids go to bed. Honestly, I haven’t changed my daily schedule. I still write things down. It helps me to correlate what I learn and what is important.

What made starting college easier?

The staff at the center made it easier. Even working with my fellow students. Students are some of the best resources. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t get answers unless you ask.

What is your favorite class?

My history course with Alan Casavant. He’s there in person and the topics are fresh. It’s an active class, there are a lot of discussions. Having Alan here helps. My other courses with the instructor connecting via video conference or online are still very good, but it helps to have the instructor on site. All of my instructors get the role of balancing family and school work. I’m glad I took the courses I am taking now and the way I set it up. It’s good for preparing myself for the rest of my courses.

How do you balance family and school?

I’ve tried to keep my schedule the same. I have extended nights now. Sometimes even throughout the day I may think of something that is part of my coursework. So I may be doing chores, but if I think of something that is related to my courses I will quickly jot down a few sentences just to capture the moment.

What Advice would you give to a brand new student just starting?

Go for it. The help is here. If you’re feeling it just come in and speak to the staff. That’s what convinced me. Joe was instrumental in helping me with the whole process.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Having a position, managing something. I’ve managed in the past and I am good at leading people. I can see myself in the computer field leading a group of people and helping an organization secure their data.