Breaking the Mold: Emily Dubay, Wastewater Treatment

February 8, 2022

Breaking the Mold is a series that highlights NMCC students enrolled in non-traditional career fields.

Presque Isle – For NMCC Water Treatment student, Emily Dubay, the realization that either she could “stay with what she knew or take a risk and try something new” came in the summer of 2021. After many different work experiences varying from retail to bartending to working as a palletizing operator, Emily was informed by her current employer, Penobscot McCrum Family Holdings of Washburn, of an apprenticeship program and jumped at the opportunity.

Emily’s first semester has been positive. “NMCC has been so helpful in making this opportunity happen. I enrolled last minute and the people in the Admissions and Financial Aid offices took care of the paperwork for me.”
Even with working full-time and taking a full-time course load, Emily earned a 4.0 her first semester. She credits figuring out how to budget her time in part leading to her success as well as her instructors, Gilles St. Pierre and Chuck Kelley who take the extra time to make sure she understands the material.

Emily recognizes the benefit of having an employer that values its employees. “I feel valued and respected at McCrum” which has translated into being successful in the program. Emily’s employer’s willingness to allow her to work and study at the same time has been a major factor in her success. Emily adds that she has many supporters at McCrum cheering her on including her Department Manager, Ronnie Clark, Plant Manager, Paul
Rybarczyk and McCrum Manager/Part Owner, Jason Woolard who assisted in setting up the apprenticeship program.

Emily says, “It’s tough being a girl in a boys’ club” but has found when surrounded by supportive
co-workers one can thrive. She plans to continue at NMCC with the goal of earning an associate degree in Water Treatment Technology. Emily sees the degree as a stepping stone to becoming a Level 3 DEP Operator, an added benefit to her employer.

According to Emily, “Water Treatment has been a good fit for me. I enjoy the work, like having the freedom to plan my day and I am not bothered by working alone.” Her advice to any females considering a career in this field is “to grow a hard shell and be very selective with your employer.”

Emily feels that without the faith and support from her employer, she may have floundered a bit. She adds that having a strong support system of family and friends, has been another important factor to her success. Emily has seen firsthand how difficult it is to work and go to college full-time. She witnessed her mother do just that, while raising a family. Emily’s mom, Diane Demmings, is a Registered Nurse and NMCC alumni having graduated in the class 2000. “When I think about my Mom finishing her degree, I see how much tougher it was for her.”

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Quick Facts
Water Treatment Program

Job Duties

• Add chemicals to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
• Collect and test water and sewage samples.
• Record operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
• Operate and adjust controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
• Inspect equipment or monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.

Skills Needed
• Operations Monitoring
• Operation and Control
• Monitoring
• Active Listening
• Quality Control Analysis

2020 National Average Pay: $23.60/hour; $49,090/year
Projected Job Openings 2020-2030: 10,500
Source: O’NET Online (2020)

NMCC 2020 Water Treatment Graduate Success Rate: (Employed, Continuing Education, or both) 100%


Emily with Instructor Gilles St. Pierre in NMCC’s Water Treatment Lab.