GCC holds 58th commencement: ‘Above all, you excelled’

  • President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández speaks during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández speaks during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates receive their diplomas from President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Avery Gray Davidson Carroll delivers the student address during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates receive their diplomas from President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates shelter from the noonday sun during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates receive their diplomas from President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates receive their diplomas from President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates receive their diplomas from President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates move their tassels during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates line up to receive their diplomas during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduates line up to receive their diplomas during the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduate Jamie Phisterer is picked up by John Herron for a photo after the 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • The 58th commencement of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduate Jamie Phisterer is picked up by John Herron for a photo after the 58th Annual Commencement Ceremony of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Graduate Sarah Coughlin is greeted by 2-year-old Thatcher after receiving her diploma during the 58th commencement ceremony of Greenfield Community College on Saturday afternoon in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

For the Recorder
Published: 6/8/2021 9:57:28 AM

GREENFIELD — Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández, president of Greenfield Community College, told graduates that in times of crisis, the best of our humanity blossoms.

Salomon-Fernández congratulated the Class of 2021, Class of 2020, and dual enrollment students at GCC’s outdoors, in-person commencement ceremony Saturday. Also livestreamed online, the ceremony, which began at noon, featured student and faculty speakers, and highlighted the work graduates have accomplished even when faced with a global pandemic.

“Above all, you excelled,” Salomon-Fernández said, expressing her excitement for the Class of 2021 and acknowledging that graduates have gone above and beyond despite the overwhelming mental toll and loss that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The world awaits your leadership, your compassion, your smarts,” she continued, calling graduates to reflect on the ways they have been made stronger by facing adversity, especially in the last 15 months.

Salomon-Fernández introduced student speaker Avery Gray Davidson Carroll to the stage. Davidson Carroll is a marathon runner and organizer, among other things, and is one of 2021’s 29 Who Shine — an award given to 29 of Massachusetts’ most stellar student graduates from higher public education who show academic excellence and significant leadership potential.

“Greenfield Community College saved my life,” Davidson Carroll began, exploring with the audience their journey from their first, uncertain GCC class to their profound growth and love for the community as a now-graduate.

“GCC gave me a community that not only accepted, but supported me in my journey toward embracing myself,” Davidson Carroll said, thanking the gender studies department and dance studio for welcoming them into spaces where they were able to explore their identity further. Even in isolation, Davidson Carroll explained the “well of support” they experienced from peers, faculty and staff, and the resilience they have seen even in the most challenging of times.

“There is a lot of pain and a lot of fear in the world right now. I know you all have felt it, but when I look around at this community, I am filled not with fear and not with despair, but with a profound sense of joy and of hope,” Davidson Carroll said.

“Hope in what can be done when we take a moment to pause and listen to one another, and joy in what happens when we do. Because in that act of listening, we build bridges that reach across our divides that find points of unity, and in so doing, we can grow our collective circle of experience, to a point where we can all stand, accepted, within it,” Davidson Carroll continued. “This is the kind of community that GCC inspires and I am so grateful that I will forever be able to call myself a part of it.”

Davidson Carroll’s speech was followed by a statement confirming the students’ graduation, read by Board of Trustees Chair Robert Cohn. GCC Chief Learning Officer Mary Ellen Fydenkevez then presented graduates on stage as they received their letters from, and took pictures with President Salomon-Fernández.

A graduate of GCC himself, Cohn reflected briefly on how valuable he believes a GCC education to be.

“A lot of us come in here lacking confidence, not sure what we want to do, or where we want to go, or what we want to be, and this place gives direction,” he said. “I want you to know that whatever you do, wherever you go, just remember you can do it. You’ve proven you can do it.”

For more graduation coverage, including graduates’ names, award winners and speeches, see the Recorder’s June 30 special section commemorating the Class of 2021.


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