GCC grads mark start of ‘a lifelong pursuit of knowledge’

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday.

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KELLY FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday. Graduates celebrated their accomplishments with family and friends.

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday. Graduates celebrated their accomplishments with family and friends. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KELLY FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday. Graduates celebrated their accomplishments with family and friends.

One hundred and fifteen graduates walked across the stage at Greenfield Community College’s commencement ceremony in Greenfield on Saturday. Graduates celebrated their accomplishments with family and friends. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/KELLY FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY

By SAM FERLAND

For the Gazette

Published: 05-29-2024 3:25 PM

GREENFIELD — Cheers and cowbells rang aloud on Saturday as members of Greenfield Community College’s Class of 2024 marched between rows of flowers to the stage, collected their diplomas, and celebrated their success with their families and friends.

GCC President Michelle Schutt emphasized the value of resilience, something that GCC develops in its students.

“Throughout your time at GCC, you have undoubtedly faced numerous challenges, both inside and outside the classroom,” she said. “Yet, you have demonstrated remarkable resilience in overcoming these obstacles, refusing to let adversity stand in the way of your dreams. Whether it was balancing work and studies, overcoming personal hardships or navigating the complexities of higher education, you have shown incredible strength and determination.”

As their time at GCC ends and they embark on new pursuits, she hopes the graduates will lean on that resilience to embrace challenges, which she called “stepping stones toward success.” She also encouraged them to continue to “nurture the bonds” they’ve built at GCC, drawing on them for collaboration and support as they encounter future opportunities.

“I want to challenge you to embrace the spirit of lifelong learning,” Schutt continued. “Graduation is not the end of an educational journey, but rather the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, growth and self-discovery.”

According to GCC, 115 graduates participated in Saturday’s commencement ceremony, with a total of 271 graduating.

Speeches followed from graduates Mari Champagne, who spoke about her research defining success and what that means to students at GCC, and Casey Miller, who commented on the fear of the unknown, sharing a quote from actress Carrie Fisher.

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway,” said Miller, whose 5-year-old grandson was present at Saturday’s commencement ceremony. “What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

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Peer Tutoring Program Co-Coordinator Norman Beebe, who started working at GCC in 1993, shared stories and lessons of graduating from a community college during his staff commencement speech, mentioning the various jobs students often do to raise tuition money. He also spoke about the mission of GCC to provide affordable higher education, which he noted has become more difficult to access, with student loan debt having nearly tripled since 2008, according to the Federal Reserve.

When at last the diplomas had been handed out and it was time to turn the tassels, Vice President of Academic Affairs April Parsons guided the graduates in turning the tassels from right to left, saying, “when you’re done, it (the tassel) goes over your heart because a part of that always remains with your school.”