"HACC attendance benefits the individual, his or her employer and the community"
Laabs is an outstanding alumnus who has distinguished himself in in three chosen fields. His first career began shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He made the Army his career, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years. While serving, Laabs completed a tour in Vietnam and also earned an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
After retiring from the Army, Laabs began his second career – director of human resources at Utz Quality Foods in Hanover, where he was later promoted to vice president of human resources. While at Utz, he worked closely with HACC’s Gettysburg Campus on developing various training programs for Utz employees and the Hanover community.
During his career at Utz, Laabs also prepared himself for his third career – nursing – by volunteering on six medical mission trips outside the United States. He retired from Utz in December 2006 and began taking nursing clinicals the following month at the Gettysburg Campus. He graduated from HACC’s nursing program in December 2008 and went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree in science nursing from Western Governors University. Gary currently works as a registered nurse at Hanover Hospital.
Laabs strongly believes in giving back. He continues to participate annually in medical mission trips in support of Medical Ministry International (MMI). He chairs the Hanover Area Council of Churches’ Healthcare Committee, whose projects include free medical clinics for the needy, flu shots, weekly blood pressure checks and diabetes education and screenings.
This outstanding alumnus is also a strong advocate for HACC. He has serves on the Gettysburg Campus Advisory Committee and the HACC Foundation Board. Laabs was instrumental in securing major gifts to establish the Arlene Utz Hollinger Foundation Scholarship and the Elsner Engineering Works Family Scholarship, both at HACC. In 2014, he was recognized for his volunteer work by receiving the first Central Penn Parent’s Healthcare Heroes Volunteer Award.
In 2016, Gary completed a seven-day medical/surgical mission to San Cristóbal, Galapagos Islands. Gary’s mission team consisted of 26 volunteers from Canada and the United States. The trip resulted in 240 clinical consults, 161 ophthalmologist visits, 42 ophthalmology surgeries, 26 general surgeries, 92 ENT consults and 11 ENT surgeries. Many of the people the team saw had to travel by boat from other islands to get to San Cristobal and the hospital to receive services. In addition, Laabs was featured in a November Hanover Magazine article entitled Never Too Late to… Connect & Care for Others,in which he shares his amazing life journey.