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From ACC to NC State: Horticulture Grad Headed for Bachelor Degree Program

ACC student Gabriel Mixon in the campus greenhouse

ACC student Gabriel Mixon in the campus greenhouse

(December 9, 2021) – Alamance Community College’s Horticulture Technology program over time has produced hundreds of outstanding and skilled graduates who have gone on to successful careers in the landscaping industry. Now student Gabriel Mixon is the first graduate to matriculate through a new pathway that leads to a bachelor’s degree in Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University.

ACC engineered its first articulation transfer agreement in Horticulture Technology education with NC State University in 2019. The two options available for students allow them to study for two years at ACC, earn an associate’s degree with 67 credit hours, then transfer into the Horticultural Science Department at NC State.

As ACC’s first Horticulture student to take advantage of this initiative, Gabriel Mixon will transfer in January 2022 into NC State’s program where he will be a bachelor’s degree candidate.

Gabriel gained valuable experience working at a landscape company while studying at ACC, but the 20-year-old wasn’t always dead-set on making a career in the horticulture landscaping industry. In fact, Gabriel‘s hands were not delving into the earth’s soil a few years ago; instead, he was holding a bow as a talented violinist in his high school’s orchestra.

The Durham native attended Durham School of the Arts for middle and high school where violin was his art pathway. In high school he spent all four years as first violin in the school’s orchestra. His musical abilities provided many more opportunities, including Youth Symphony at the Duke University String School, but ultimately his love of horticulture won out.

Gabriel’s love of the land found him while working in landscape construction at Tributary Land Design + Build one summer. He built up lots of experience working there, even on through the winter when he took a gap year after high school. He later worked in construction, and ran his own landscaping jobs, doing hardscapes, softscapes, and design work.

Intrigued by the landscape design process, Gabriel enrolled at ACC after he heard about the school’s award-winning program.

“ACC’s Horticulture Technology program is great. It’s an intimate program so most of us know each other and it builds a sense of community,” he said. “I opted to follow the new articulation transfer agreement with NC State once I knew this was the career path I wanted. And it allowed me to save money on tuition by going to ACC my first two years.”

“Dr. Elizabeth Riley [Department Head] is a great teacher and advisor. She was great helping me plan my courses and to get all of my materials for transferring to NC State done,” said Gabriel.

Gabriel wants to learn as much as possible about design because that is where his interests lie. Once he completes his B.S. in Horticultural Science with a concentration in Landscape Design at NC State, he plans to pursue a Master’s of Landscape Architecture and become an accredited landscape architect. He may also consider pursuing NC Sate’s graduate certificate in city planning.

“My career goal is to work on large scale landscapes, or as an environmental planner, a subcategory of urban planning,” said Gabriel. “Cities everywhere are increasing size and decreasing their natural environments. Plenty of landscape features can be incorporated into these growing cities that are beneficial to the environment, the city, and the people.