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When Average Isn’t a Bad Word

Alum Doesn’t Sleep on Reflection or Opportunity

Chris Garvey believes his academic journey had a slow start. “I was maybe your average, below average, C student.”

Garvey graduated from Northeast High in 2015 believing he didn’t know anything. “I remember thinking I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.

A friend talked the Pasadena resident into trying AACC. “He said, ‘I want to see you succeed. They’ll accept you.’.” Garvey applied, took placement tests, and learned he would have to retake several English and math classes.

It wasn’t easy. “I came in with the attitude, ‘I can’t believe I’m here. I don’t want to do this at all,’” he said. But he did. Garvey found professors who were encouraging, a library that made studying a retreat and classmates of diverse backgrounds also taking the next steps. Some didn’t know where those steps would lead.

“It felt like, ‘We’re not sure where we’re supposed to be, but this is the next step.’," he said. “Even then I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was all over the place.”

Garvey stuck with it. He earned an associate degree in general studies in 2017. He said the generic degree allowed him to take classes he still uses today, like psychology in his work and the programming he used recently to build a website. At the University of Maryland Global Campus, he gained a bachelor’s in psychology while working part time at a senior care facility. As he gained degrees, Garvey gained promotions, eventually moving to another local company in the skilled nursing and rehabilitation industry.

Garvey wanted to care for people. Interacting with residents over ice cream socials and bingo reinforced his understanding of a core value – serving others and the meaning it brought to his own life. “I knew that serving other people was a means to finding happiness in my life,” he said. That still applied as he moved into admissions, then marketing.

A chance encounter led Garvey down a different path. A champion snorer, Garvey met a Swiss manufacturer looking to break into the U.S. sleep aid market. Garvey tried a product that aligns the jaw during sleep and became a believer. He’s been pursuing FDA approval for eight months to get his devices cleared.

That solid work history led to Garvey co-founding his business, SnoreLessNow. “I already work with so many vendors, doctors and regulations. It helped me create a framework with the FDA,” said Garvey, now chief operating officer.

“AACC really was the bridge between my lack of ambition and my success. They closed that gap for me. They brought the right people into place in my life.” As a volunteer mentor to some youths at his church, Garvey often brings up his academic journey to others who are in the same place he was at 18. “I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “I recommend AACC to everyone, especially for the individuals like me.”