Get to Know HFC: Troy Gibson amplifies service and inclusion
Being the HFC Student Success Navigator for Nursing, Health Careers, and Liberal Arts is one of many hats Troy Gibson wears at the College.
“I have worked at HFC for seven years and I love the College. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of the staff at HFC,” he said. “My ambitions change, but education is always in my plans. I look forward to remaining at HFC until retirement. The past few years have been challenging and the willingness of HFC’s leadership to see the challenges and the changes needed to remain successful and vibrant has been inspiring.”
From circulation to surgical tech
Born in Lebanon, OH, Gibson is the sixth of seven children. His family moved to Wyandotte when he was 2. He currently lives in Novi with his husband Steve Jergovich, a retired HFC facilities associate. They have been together for 37 years, and they were officially married in 2015. They have a son, Troy, Jr., who has four children. One of Gibson’s grandchildren, Troy III, is currently enrolled in HFC’s Culinary Arts program.
“My parents truly epitomized the meaning of hard work,” he recalled. “My father worked for 32 years at Ford Motor Co. in Woodhaven. My mother worked for more than 18 years at the Barnum Brothers Fiberglass Co in Detroit.”
An alumnus of Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, Gibson attended HFC (then called Henry Ford Community College), while working at the Dearborn Press & Guide in the circulation department. When he later took a circulation job with the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers, Gibson transferred to Schoolcraft College. There, he earned his associate degree in science. He later earned his certification in surgical technology from Herzig University in Ohio.
“These two circulation jobs offered me on-the-job-training in marketing, promotion, and being creative in a constantly changing market,” he said. “My interest in surgical tech came about while talking with a group of friends. I started to research and found Herzing to be a great choice and the program would fit my lifestyle. This small university offered a personal touch while challenging me to be my best. I still keep up with the surgical tech certification requirements.”
Patient, caring, and emphathetic
While he loved being a surgical technologist, Gibson missed the customer service aspect of his career. Because print media was changing, he joined HFC in 2015, working in the Enrollment Service Call Center in the Welcome Center.
“I remember being on the job that first week thinking, ‘I will never get to know all this information,’” recalled Gibson. “I have had some great coworkers at the Welcome Center willing to share their knowledge and understanding. The Enrollment Lab allowed me to be face-to -face with students, sharing many of their concerns and helping them.”
Through HFC’s partnership with Siena Heights University, Gibson earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Gibson has been in his current position since 2019. He reports to HFC Manager of Academic Advising and Student Success Lorraine Paffenroth.
“Troy is a natural when it comes to advising. Students share their appreciation for him regularly in comments in our student satisfaction surveys. He is patient, caring, and empathetic. He takes an interest in students and their lives. He listens. He is well-versed in all programs, while serving as a specialist for health careers and nursing. It is a pleasure to call him my teammate and colleague," said Paffenroth. "Troy doesn’t shy away from responsibility and is voluntarily involved in SAFE@HFC and SAGA. He recently was part of a team voted best in conference at the Michigan Association for College Academic Advisors (MIACADA). Troy has also been known to give generously of his resources, providing winter coats and boots to students who have come into the Welcome Center for enrollment services. I’m so grateful to work with him.”
SAFE and SAGA: supporting LGBTQ+ students and employees
Gibson co-founded SAFE@HFC in 2016 with HFC Financial Aid Specialist Elizabeth Preston. SAFE is a campus organization that works to promote equity and inclusion for HFC’s LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.
“SAFE@HFC holds a place near and dear to my heart,” said Gibson. “This group of volunteers, under the leadership of Beth Preston, has made some significant changes at HFC. I can remember the evening at Beth’s desk, talking about the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL (in 2016) and how changes needed to be made. This was the beginning of SAFE-Packs (backpacks), food drives, Ally training, safety training, and celebrations of Campus Pride Month.”
Gibson also co-founded SAGA, the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance club, a student-led group whose mission is to support students in their lives as LGBTQ+ individuals and Allies. Gibson and HFC Admissions and Recruiting Specialist Kristine Rouleau serve as SAGA’s advisors.
“Campus Pride Month is every April. We celebrated it this year by placing 200 rainbow flags in the quad area of campus,” said Gibson. “We also screen movies based upon LGBTQ+ characters and themes. Wayne State University and the University of Michigan hosted an on-campus and virtual meeting with our LGBTQ+ students and Allies about the resources available on their campuses. Kristine Rouleau presented at our ‘Stand for Trans’ virtual presentation earlier this year.”
Strengthening the culture and climate of inclusion and equity
Rouleau enjoys working with Gibson.
“Troy demonstrates a gentle and genuine caring for all of the students he works with through the advising office or through SAGA,” she said. “He offers an enthusiastic optimism about making HFC more inclusive and welcoming and puts in the work to make it happen. Getting to collaborate with Troy to lead SAGA is one of my very favorite parts of my job.”
Preston also spoke highly of Gibson.
“Troy co-founded SAFE@HFC with me,” she said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside him on this important initiative for the last six years. In that time, he has been instrumental in strengthening the culture and climate of inclusion and equity on the HFC campus. In addition to this important work, Troy also has stepped up to be the SAGA co-advisor. Thanks to him, SAGA has been able to provide numerous Campus Pride events this year.”
Preston continued: “Troy models caring and kindness in everything he does and has truly made HFC a great place for students, faculty, and staff. He captained the winning food drive team to raise donations for the Hawks' Nest and has been key in helping with the SAFE-Pack backpack drive for students who are hungry and homeless. Students in need somehow always find Troy for help and guidance, and he never fails to put their needs first. To say that we are all better for knowing this wonderful person would be an understatement!”