Nicole DeFreitas, '06

Alumna perseveres through life struggles

Luckily, at Terra, there are a lot of great scholarship opportunities and financial aid to help figure out how to pay for college, which is usually the biggest obstacle.” ~ Nicole DeFreitas

Even when everything seemed to go against Terra State alumna Nicole DeFreitas, she was able to turn things around and make it through with flying colors.

DeFreitas grew up in Port Clinton and lives there today. She graduated from Port Clinton High School and immediately enrolled as a student at Eastern Michigan University. However, she found out she wasn’t ready for college so soon after high school and dropped out. After that, she knew she needed to go to a community college, and Terra State, which was called Terra Technical College at the time, was the natural choice for her.

When DeFreitas was a child, she attended her parents’ photography classes at Terra State. This made the College feel like a familiar and enjoyable atmosphere for her. This, as well as the fact that Terra State accepted her as a non-traditional student, were the reasons she chose to enroll.

In 2006, DeFreitas graduated with an Associate of Individualized Study with a concentration in Business Management and Behavioral Science. “It took me 10 years to graduate from here because of some life struggles, but this was always my safe place to come back to.” She remembers commencement vividly: swollen feet from being eight months pregnant, graduating with her husband who was homeless at the time and was going through a tough time in general. “Terra was his saving place too,” she said.

DeFreitas was the first person in her family to graduate high school and the first to graduate college. This, she explained, made getting through college more difficult than she anticipated. She had to figure out what classes she needed, how to submit assignments on a deadline, how to pay for college and everything else on her own. Many instructors helped her along the way. She specifically thanked Mary Jo Jay, her advisor, who she still communicates with today. “She was my advisor the entire 10 years I attended and she changed my life. She always welcomed me back and helped me figure things out.”

She is thankful for the financial help she could get from Terra State. “Luckily, at Terra, there are a lot of great scholarship opportunities and financial aid to help figure out how to pay for college, which is usually the biggest obstacle.” She is also grateful for the chance to have worked at Delphi Automotive Systems in Sandusky, which helped pay for some of her tuition.

After she graduated from Terra State, she was able to transfer her credits to Bowling Green State University (BGSU) where she earned a Bachelor of Science and two Masters Degrees. “Out of all the degrees I have, the one from Terra is the one I’m most proud of,” she said.

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    Average Length of Study

    2 years, Full time

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    Average Cost



  • Employer

    Jet Express

  • Job Title

    Sales and Marketing Director

  • Salary Potential



With her degrees, DeFreitas was able to hold a variety of jobs including teaching Public Relations classes at Terra State. One of her first classrooms was in the same place where the dark room was when she came here with her parents as a child. “It all kind of came around full circle.” This memory of being with her family for their photography class was part of the reason she and her family decided to start The Kenny Jensen Memorial Scholarship at Terra State in honor of her stepfather. This scholarship is for students in Ottawa County who are going into Skilled Trades or Digital Media.

Terra State prepared her for her career by pushing her and giving her a good foundation to grow. “The classes really impacted me. I still remember a lot of the stuff I learned and the math classes I struggled through.”

Currently, DeFreitas is the Sales & Marketing Director at Jet Express. She has three children and is involved in a heap of community service activities. She has served as a Put-In-Bay Chamber of Commerce Board Member, the President of the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau, and a part of the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Marketing Committee just to name a few.

DeFreitas specifically enjoys the quality of Terra State faculty. “They make sure the students are getting what they need. It’s like a family here at Terra State.”

She left us with one piece of advice: “Community college students often have life obstacles and things that get in their way. Just keep plugging away! If it seems like it’s never going to happen, that time will pass, so chip at a class here and there and eventually you’ll reach the end.”

*Possible salary information based on averages from