It’s been 35 years since Craig Smith graduated from Laurel Ridge, and yet he works just a couple miles away from the campus where he earned his associate degree in science.
Smith graduated from Central High School in 1983 and unsure of what he wanted to major in, he immediately enrolled in Laurel Ridge.
“Laurel Ridge presented an excellent local opportunity to take my core education classes,” he said. “It had a great reputation when it came to transferring to four-year universities, especially within Virginia.”
Smith looks back fondly on his time at the college.
“My favorite memories of Laurel Ridge are the easy friendships and all the activities, such as the dances,” he said. “At the time I attended in the early 1980s, Laurel Ridge still had a relatively small population and that facilitated a tight-knit student community. My favorite professor, who I still consider a friend, was Frank Borleske. He always had an open-door policy and would go out of his way to make time for questions or assistance outside of the classroom.”
The college is fortunate to have had Professor Borleske on the faculty for its entire 50-year history, according to Smith.
“His genuine interest in teaching students embodies one of the principles in the foundation of the Virginia Community College System,” Smith said.
It was while at Laurel Ridge that Smith developed an interest in science. This led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at James Madison University. This would be followed by a master of education degree in higher education in 1990 and a master’s of business administration in 1998, both also from JMU.
Today, he is a project manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which manufactures in-vitro diagnostics reagents for the healthcare industry. Though the company has had several names over the years, it is where Smith has spent his entire career in positions ranging from the quality control lab to production to product development and product support.
Over the years, Smith has witnessed the growth of the Middletown Campus.
“I sometimes react in awe at the physical and instructional transformation of the college,” he said. “What was once as single building is today a beautiful campus offering a tremendous breadth and depth of academic and vocational courses.”