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Graduates ‘essential’ to state

  • Carissa Fuller receives her diploma from President Dr. Robert L. Pura during the Greenfield Community College commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Graduate Myisha Stephens is given flowers by her mother after receiving her diploma during the Greenfield Community College commencement ceremony on Saturday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield Community College graduates listen to President Dr. Robert L. Pura speak during the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Outgoing Greenfield Community College President Dr. Robert L. Pura exits the tent after the commencement ceremony on Saturday. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield Community College graduates Carrie L. Hale and Melissa Osborne pose for photos after the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield Community College graduates take photos with friends and family under the shade of a tree after the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield Community College graduate Lastone Saya takes photos with family after the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Greenfield Community College graduates take photos with friends and family under the shade of a tree after the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



For the Gazette
Sunday, June 03, 2018

GREENFIELD — “You are graduating from Greenfield Community College at a time when community colleges are essential to meeting the workforce needs of the commonwealth,” Dr. Patricia Marshall, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs & Student Success, told 292 students at Greenfield Community College, just before they officially became the school’s alumni.

They will become nurses, computer programmers, accountants and much more, and on that grassy green Saturday, Marshall thanked them for their efforts. Many community college graduates go on to work in the very state they went to school in, and therefore, Marshall said, fuel the local economy.

“We can all take pride in the fact that Massachusetts leads the nation with 51 percent of adults holding college degrees,” Marshall said.

And the students did take pride. As they marched across the stage, clad in the traditional caps and gowns, they waved to friends and family and fondly shook hands with their professors.

They are now officially college graduates, and, rightly, they felt a sense of accomplishment.

Student speaker and class of 2018 graduate of Greenfield Community College’s nursing program Melissa Osborne exuded that sense of accomplishment as she spoke to the crowd, having earned her second degree at the school.

However, humbly, Osborne made clear that the momentous accomplishment could not have been achieved without the help of the school’s staff, students and her own family.

“Greenfield Community College has been a second family to me,” said Osborne, who lost her mother to cancer while she attended the school — the school helped her through her troubles, and allowed her to take time off during a semester to grieve, and again later when she gave birth to her daughter.

“Family can recognize your weaknesses and step in to provide the support you need when you need it. I sure did need it,” Osborne said. “Life happens, and I believe the resiliency I have is a testament to the support of my family.”

Osborne was emotional during her speech, as were several of her fellow students, who clearly related to her sense of having completed an arduous journey.

With her fiancee and two children, Osborne plans on staying in the area and making Franklin County a better place. She told her classmates she’s happy to think they’ll do the same.

“To the nursing class: I’m honored to be in a place where you all will be living and learning,” Osborne said, garnering enthusiasm and applause.

Robert Pura, giving comments at the school’s 55th commencement ceremony — and at the end of his 18th and final year as Greenfield Community College President — also expressed pride, not only for the graduates themselves, but for the faculty who’ve guided them through the last several years.

“Your achievement is also a reflection of your teachers, the faculty and staff of GCC. Each has come to this college because of you. GCC faculty and staff are wonderful scientists and researchers, paramedics and police officers, nurses and doctors, poets, accountants and artists, but they see themselves first as teachers,” Pura said.

He continued: “It was the faculty and staff of GCC who saw your potential — often before you did — and together you have worked to achieve it.”