HOUSTON (January 24, 2008) – Among the almost 11,000 students who registered at Lone Star College-North Harris (formerly North Harris College) for spring 2008 semester Fabrice Bazilme, 28, was up before sunrise to register for the classes he wanted. An air traffic controller at the Houston Air Traffic Control Center, he knew it was critical to be able to sign up for the classes that best fit into his work schedule. Little did he realize his effort entitled him to become the first ‘official’ Lone Star College-North Harris student an honor, which allowed him to assist Dr. Steve Head, LSC-North Harris’ president reveal the college’s new logo in front of more than 500 faculty, staff and students on January 16, 2008.
“On the first day of spring registration, I was there at 5 a.m.,” said Bazilme, formerly an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force. “Before, when I was attending City College in New York and because I signed up a day or two after registration began, I could never get the classes I needed at the times I wanted. Because of my work schedule, I wanted to make certain I was there early enough to get the classes I needed at the times that would work for me.”
Like most of LSC-North Harris’ students, Bazilme balances work and his personal goal of completing his higher education for a better future. The new student said he was honored by the designation and his eyes are on completing his bachelor’s degree in business management.
Bazilme, who was Haitian American, came to the United States with his parents in 1982 when he was two years of age. “My family moved to the U.S. for the reasons many come to this country,” he explained. “They wanted to come here for a chance at the American dream – for themselves and for their seven children.”
A good student in high school, Bazilme said when he enrolled at City College in New York he simply wasn’t ready for the college experience but he never lost sight of his goal to earn his college degree.
“I didn’t have a good childhood, growing up,” he said. “I knew I would need a college degree if I wanted to be able to function well in this society. My parents wanted me to go further in school but I think it’s been my own motivation to keep moving forward, to keep getting better in my life.”
At age 20, he went into the U.S. Air Force, where he admits he did a lot of growing up. “I needed some discipline in my life at that time, so the Air Force provided me with an opportunity to learn my job as an air traffic controller, showed me the benefits of hard work and gave me a chance to make some lifelong friendships,” he said.
He also found some role models that added momentum to his own motivation. “Whether I’m playing sports or doing my job as an air traffic controller, I always want to improve my skills and abilities,” Bazilme explained. “When I was in the Air Force, I had a master sergeant – Robert Breashears – and he motivated me. I wanted to be as good as he was and have the skills to advance as he did.”
With a primary duty site at Whiteman Air Base in Missouri, the new Lone Star College–North Harris student also had tours in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, serving as an air traffic controller in all of those assignments. During his military service, he had a chance to take a few more classes toward his college degree.
In 2006, Bazilme left the Air Force after six years of service to move forward toward his degree, but not before serving as a contract air traffic controller in Afghanistan for a Midwest-based company.
After establishing his new home in Spring, he was ready to go back to work on his degree. “It’s always been my goal to get my degree,” the new student explained. “Even though I went into the Air Force, I still had that goal of completing my college degree. I had started it many years ago. Now I need to finish it.”
After completing his core educational courses at North Harris–where he is currently enrolled in English, government, economics, and speech for the spring semester– he’d like to complete his bachelor’s and then go into business for himself. “In a perfect world, I’d like to start my own business, maybe in accounting, real estate or opening a couple of small businesses,” Bazilme said. “Eventually, I’d like to be making more working for myself than working for someone else.”
He selected North Harris as the place for a new beginning toward his lifelong goal because it’s not too far from his job and an easy commute from his home. “I’d say location and convenience were two of the primary reasons I chose North Harris,” he said, “and because of my work schedule, that convenience and proximity to my job were both very important to my decision.”
Bazilme is very clear on his desire to move ahead. “I’ve always been self-motivated,” he explained. “I always want to get better. I never want to stagnate. If I’m good today, I want to be better tomorrow. You learn, in air traffic, to avoid mistakes. In air traffic, the earlier you identify a problem, the earlier you can solve it. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
While he was overseas, the student said he learned that, at times, you have to deal with certain situations for the greater good.
“Taking a contractors job in Afghanistan was a good example of that for me,” Bazilme said. “Nobody wants to sit in a sandbox for a year, but working that job made it possible for me to pay some bills and prepare for my move to Houston to go to work for the FAA.
“I’m single, but when I marry and bring children into the world, I want to prepare…so that the child will come into a good place. Growing up in Haiti, my childhood experiences were dismal and opportunities non-existent, but there was love in my family and my parents did the best they could. I want my life and the lives of my children to be a little better,” said Bazilme.
Admittedly, he’s going to be busy, working a full time job and going to class, but the new student is excited to move closer to his goal and to complete the next chapter of his life. “I’m ready for it,” he said, enthusiastically.
Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Blvd., one-half mile south of FM 1960 E, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit: northharris.lonestar.edu.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including CyFair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and Lone Star College-University Center. It is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.
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