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Grade Expectations

Michelle Schutt says that, while it may seem like Greenfield, Mass. is a long way from Twin Falls, Idaho (3,160 miles, to be exact), it’s really not.

At least when it comes to the issues and challenges facing the institutions that now comprise the top lines on her résumé — College of Southern Idaho (CSI), where she was vice president of Community and Learner Services, and Greenfield Community College (GCC), where she started just a few weeks ago as the school’s 11th president — and their overall missions.

“There are many similarities between these communities,” she explained. “There’s a high number of first-generation college students, people who are hungry for educational opportunities, definite need within the community … they are very much alike, which lends itself to the applicability of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do the future. I’m a big believer that education opens doors and changes family trees, and that we can all be educated.”

Schutt comes to GCC with a résumé that includes considerable work in the broad realms of student services and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she said this will be one of the main focal points at GCC.

“If we’re going to recruit and retain students,” she told BusinessWest, “we’ve got to take into account their entire experience because often, it’s not the academic rigor or even the finances that keep them from succeeding; it’s the social-capital issues of how they’re maneuvering through life.

“COVID definitely exasperated the social needs of our students,” she went on. “But they were always there.”

Regarding diversity, she said this issue is often looked at through the lens of ethnic diversity — and that is certainly part of it. But there are many aspects to this matter, some more visible than others, and they must all be considered at institutions like GCC.

“If we’re going to recruit and retain students, we’ve got to take into account their entire experience because often, it’s not the academic rigor or even the finances that keep them from succeeding; it’s the social-capital issues of how they’re maneuvering through life.”

“It’s a little cliché, but this is a bit of an iceberg topic,” she explained. “There are the physical things that we notice about each other, and then there’s the 90% of the iceberg that’s below the water line; you really need to get to know someone before you can fully understand how they, too, are diverse.”

Schutt told BusinessWest that, after more than 20 years of work in higher-education administration — work that had taken her from St. Cloud, Minn. to Hanover, Ind., Laramie, Wyo., and then Idaho, she considered herself ready to be a college president, and began looking to apply for such positions.

This recognition didn’t come overnight, she said, and it was actually several years after the then-president of CSI asked her to consider that position before she considered herself truly qualified and ready to take the helm at a campus.

She said she looked at a few opportunities that presented themselves — there have been a number of retirements and shifts in leadership in higher education (as in other sectors) over the past few years — but soon focused her attention on GCC.

Schutt said the school — which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary — and its mission, the area it serves, the team in place, and the institution’s prospects for future growth and evolution all appealed to her.

Her immediate goals are to become acquainted with the school, its staff and faculty, as well as Greenfield and the broader area served by the college.

Looking longer-term, she said she wants to properly position GCC for a future where enrollment will be even more of a challenge than it is today, and where students’ ‘needs,’ a broad term to be sure, will only grow.

“Nationally, we’re heading for an enrollment cliff,” she said, adding that 2025 is the year when already-declining numbers are expected to reach a new and more ominous level. “We have to ensure that we’re offering what people need and what people are looking for; we have to take a look at what we’re doing in workforce and in community education and what we’re doing with credit-based courses, and align those with good outcomes.”

 

Course of Action

As noted, Schutt brings to GCC a résumé dominated by work in student services, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

At the College of Southern Idaho, where she started in 2015, she held several positions, starting with associate vice president of Student Services, then vice president of that same department, and, starting just last year, vice president of Community and Learner Services.

“If they’re stressed about some sort of insecurity or some issue related to childcare or transportation, it’s really difficult to focus on calculus. That’s where student affairs and student services come in — to educate the entire student.”

She lists a number of accomplishments, including a sharp rise in enrollment for the 2020-21 school year; steady increases in Hispanic student enrollment, from 17.8% in 2015-16 to 26.3% in 2109-20; and improvement in the graduation rate from 20% in 2016 to 34% in 2020.

But she believes many of her most significant gains came in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Indeed, Schutt noted that, in helping CSI become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS), she recruited and hired bilingual staff members for each area of Student Services, spearheaded CSI’s first HIS Week, lobbied the board of trustees for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, developed and offered a program called Parent College in both English and Spanish, established the Gay-Straight Alliance student group, and advocated for and hired the school’s first full-time veterans’ coordinator.

Prior to CSI, she served as director of Student Affairs at Penn State University’s campus in Scranton. As a member of the school’s senior administrative leadership team, she was engaged in strategic planning, policy development, and problem solving.

She said that she gravitated toward work in student services (she also teaches) because of its importance to the success of not only students but the institution in question. Summing it up, she said such work falls into the realm of student success and making sure they can get on — and stay on — a path to achieving their goals, whatever they may be.

“It’s about ensuring that their housing and food and social integration and mental health and physical health are all taken into account as it relates to their journey,” she explained, “because all of those things play a factor in their academic success.

“If they’re stressed about some sort of insecurity or some issue related to childcare or transportation, it’s really difficult to focus on calculus,” she went on. “That’s where student affairs and student services come in — to educate the entire student.”

When asked what she liked about this aspect of higher education, she said there are many rewards that come with it, especially those derived from helping students clear some of the many hurdles to success.

“I love that we’re able to help each and every student achieve their goals, and that we are looking at them as individuals, as humans, and not another person in a seat, and that we’re educating the whole person.”

“I love that we’re able to help each and every student achieve their goals, and that we are looking at them as individuals, as humans, and not another person in a seat, and that we’re educating the whole person.”

Looking to take her career in higher education to a higher plane, Schutt looked at several job opportunities, but eventually focused on the presidency at GCC because of what she considered a very solid match.

Compatibility was revealed the initial interview, conducted via Zoom, and then reinforced at a day-long, in-person session, during which she met and took questions from several constituencies, including faculty, staff, students, and other stakeholders.

“There is a shared set of values that focuses on students and recognizes the importance of community integration for a community college,” she said when asked what she came away with from that day’s experiences.

“When I came to campus, it was validating to meet people who truly care about students,” she went on. “And that was conveyed in every group that I met with; that was conveyed by the students — that they felt they were cared for. And those things are really important to me; you can’t make that up. And the end of the day, if you don’t care about students, the students know that.”

 

School of Thought

As noted, Schutt will bring a deep focus on the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion to her new role, noting that, while she has always had an appreciation for these matters, it reached a new and much higher level through her experiences teaching English and social justice.

“I was teaching in the evening, when we had the greatest diversity of students,” she explained. “And to understand the general college-student experience was really eye-opening to me and made me a better administrator.

“That’s because, as a vice president, you see the highly successful students, or the students who were in great despair, who may not persist no matter how we helped them,” she went on. “To see the 40-year-old mom coming back to school, the 16-year-old dual-credit student, the student with limited English acquisition, the working dad … all those people coming together in one class really opened my eyes to the immense diversity in who we educate in community college.”

At CSI, Schutt said, it became a priority for the school to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, and the many steps taken to achieve that status became learning experiences on many levels. And, ultimately, they helped enable the school to better serve all its students.

“We worked really hard to make sure we were understanding the Hispanic student experience and that we were ensuring equitable outcomes and inclusionary practices,” she explained. “There were always critics who would say, ‘you’re focused on Hispanic students only.’ Well … no, we were making all our practices and policies better for all of our students.

“We worked very hard to get designation, but along the way, we also worked on broadening our understanding and awareness of all students,” she went on. “I lobbied in front of the board of trustees for more gender-neutral bathrooms and started a food bank and made sure we had a full-time veterans’ coordinator. Those are things that improve opportunities for all our students.

“When we’re taking about equity, we’re making sure that everyone has the same opportunity,” she continued. “But how they get there may look very different, and the inclusion component of it is celebrating those differences, and there’s a lot of work to be done — in the field, in society — and Greenfield isn’t any different.”

Elaborating, she said it’s one of her goals to soon have an administrator focused specifically on diversity, equity, and inclusion, a broad realm that, as she said, goes beyond ethnic diversity and to those matters below the tip of the iceberg.

“DEI here might look at educational attainment, it might look at poverty and wealth inequities, it may include LGBTQ identities — there’s diversity everywhere,” she said. “We can’t say, ‘we all look the same here in Greenfield or in the Pioneer Valley, so there is no diversity.’ Diversity is everywhere; it just may not be as obvious.”

 

Class Act

Looking ahead, Schutt said she’s looking forward to filling her calendar with meetings with local officials and members of the business community as she works to gain a broader understanding of the community served by the college.

She’s also looking forward to the fall, and a projected increase in enrollment as the school looks to fully recover from the pandemic and its many side effects, as well as the coming year, an important milestone for GCC as it celebrates 60 years of growth and change.

Mostly, though, she’s looking forward to continuing what has become, in many respects, her life’s work in student services and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As she said, if schools like GCC are to successfully recruit and retain students, they must take into account their entire experience. And this will be the focus of her efforts.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Upright Education and Greenfield Community College (GCC) are partnering to provide award-winning career-enhancement programs in technology in Western Mass. and beyond.

The new partnership is being provided through GCC’s Workforce Development Office and will give learners a unique chance to participate in boot camps that help them quickly learn marketable skills in technology, including software development and user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Participants will be able to attend the programs virtually and can complete them in as few as 10 weeks.

With Upright’s national partner network and suite of curriculum offerings and GCC’s access to the area’s working population and robust higher-education system, this partnership aims to significantly augment efforts to develop the technology workforce in the region.

“We’re very excited to have GCC partner with Upright to provide top-rate, intensive software-development training and UI/UX design,” GCC interim President Richard Hopper said. “Such skills and industry-recognized certifications are in high demand and are an ideal path for self-employment right at home. Together we are working to ensure the people in our region are career-ready, helping to make Greenfield and surrounding areas a hub for technology-career training.”

All courses are fully accessible to online participants and offered with a variety of pricing models. For more information on available Upright offerings, visit bootcamp.gcc.mass.edu, or attend an upcoming information session on Wednesday, March 9.

In the past decade, the technology sector in the Pioneer Valley has grown steadily, with new startups and nonprofits working to accelerate the technology workforce emerging or moving into the market on a consistent basis. Upright has a proven track record of developing growing tech workforces in emerging markets like Western Mass.

“We are thrilled to partner with GCC to support their workforce-development program with our bootcamps in software development and UX/UI design,” Upright CEO Benny Boas said. “Massachusetts has seen record job growth in the tech industry. Through our partnership, we will be able to help GCC continue to turn out highly skilled workers in a fast-changing higher-education landscape, with new demands for workforce-development training.”

Daily News

GREENFIELD — After three years as president of Greenfield Community College (GCC), Yves Salomon-Fernández announced plans to step down on Aug. 15 to accept a position as senior vice president at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

In a letter to the college community, Salomon-Fernández wrote that she needed to step back a bit, the Greenfield Recorder reported. “I bring 150% to everything I do, and [GCC president] is a very public role. We’ve gone through a pandemic, social change, and racial issues … All of those things made me reflect on what kind of balance I want in my life. This is an all-consuming position. My family and I decided I take a step back from it.”

Robert Cohn, chair of GCC’s board of trustees, praised Salomon-Fernández’s leadership, saying she “got the ship steered in the right direction” during her three years at the helm. “It’s unfortunate she’s not going to see how it sails.”

Cohn added that “she understood and appreciated the important role GCC plays in Franklin and Hampshire counties and beyond. She stepped in to continue its mission of providing access to education and workforce training to best serve the needs of residents and employers in the region.”

Daily News

GREENFIELD — In response to the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenfield Community College (GCC) has introduced a scholarship to support frontline and essential workers in their education. The award allows recipients to attend GCC tuition- and fee-free for up to three years of full- or part-time study.

The Frontline & Essential Workers Scholarship was conceived last summer in conversations among GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández; Regina Curtis, executive director of Institutional Advancement and the GCC Foundation; and Linda Desjardins, director of Financial Aid.

“The COVID crisis left a lot of our students in precarious positions. Community-college students tend to be adults, and often parents, working full-time while going to school, and we recognized that a lot of our students were frontline workers at care homes, medical settings, grocery stores, etc.,” Desjardins said. “We wanted to do something that acknowledged their dedication and sacrifice and the hurdles that they had to overcome in order to remain students.”

The expenditures for the scholarship for this academic year are $16,227, and the total cost over three years will be approximately $50,000. The scholarship is primarily funded by GCC’s financial-aid resources, with the help of Big Y World Class Markets.

“At Big Y, we are passionate about education and providing tools and resources for our employees and the communities that we serve,” said Charlie D’Amour, president and CEO. “Especially during this pandemic, the opportunity to advance the educational opportunities for frontline workers is a part of our ongoing mission to support our communities.”

Four students received the Frontline & Essential Workers Scholarship in the 2020-21 academic year: two Big Y employees, one ETM, and one Target employee.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College recently welcomed Judith Roberts, executive drector of the Literacy Project, to serve its board of trustees. Elected by her peers as the alumni representative, she was officially appointed to the board by Gov. Charlie Baker earlier this month.

A single mother, Roberts came to GCC in her early 30s, when her youngest child was just 1 year old. After graduating from GCC in 1995, she went to Smith College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree with honors. From there she went on to Harvard University, where she received her master’s degree in community-based education and a certificate in nonprofit management. She later returned to Franklin County to become executive director of the Literacy Project, a Greenfield-based nonprofit offering free classes to adults across Western Mass. in basic skills, high-school equivalency, and college and career readiness.

“I’m proud and pleased to serve my fellow GCC alumni on the board,” Roberts said. “I very much believe in community college and the access to education that Greenfield Community College provides. I was able to climb the ladder to success by virtue of entering this school. My hope is to use my position on the board to share the opportunities that GCC has to offer even more widely.”

Roberts’ direct experience with the school and pay-it-forward approach make her a strong addition to the board of trustees, said GCC president Yves Salomon-Fernandez. “She has walked in the shoes of a non-traditional student and was a single mother who began her academic degree later in life at GCC. She went from our rigorous little college to achieve a graduate degree at Harvard University. Judith’s personal journey is both compelling and exemplary. We are delighted to welcome her to the board.”

Cover Story

Innovative Course of Action

Yves Salomon-Fernandez

Yves Salomon-Fernandez

Yves Salomon-Fernandez became the 10th president of Greenfield Community College this past summer, succeeding Bob Pura at the helm of a school that enjoys some of the highest retention and graduation rates in the state. Her primary goals moving forward are to build on the momentum generated over the past several years, set the bar higher, and then clear that bar. Salomon-Fernandez is confident in her abilities, and, like the school itself, she says she’s “innovative and entrepreneurial.”

Yves Salomon-Fernandez remembers many things about her first interview as a candidate for the presidency at Greenfield Community College — especially the cold.

It was early April, and she recalls that morning being particularly cruel as she arrived at the Deerfield Inn for that interview session. It was so cold, and she appeared so uncomfortable, in fact, that Robbie Cohn, chair of the school’s board of trustees, felt inspired to give her his gloves, and for an attending student representative to give up her shawl.

“I was freezing, and as a measurement expert, I said to myself, ‘this is going to interfere with my performance if I’m distracted by the thought of being cold,’” she recalled. “With those gloves and that shawl, I thought I could give them a better glimpse of who I was and what I can do.”

Whether it was the additional layering or not, Salomon-Fernandez warmed up enough to sufficiently impress those interviewing her to become a finalist for the job. And, continuing in this vein, it would fair to say that the rest of the campus would soon warm to her.

Indeed, several weeks later, she would be named the school’s 10th president and the successor to long-time leader Bob Pura, who retired this past spring after 18 years at the helm.

When asked what she told those quizzing her, Salomon-Fernandez condensed it all down to a few words and phrases that would also set the tone for this interview with BusinessWest.

“I said I was very innovative, entrepreneurial, and like to think outside the box,” she recalled, adding that, in many respects, those traits are shared by the GCC community as a whole, which is another reason she was attracted to the school.

Entrepreneurial? Yes, entrepreneurial.

While some in her position would be hesitant to say out loud that a college is very much, if not exactly like, a business, she isn’t. Only, the phrase she uses is ‘academic enterprise.’

“Considering the challenges we’re facing in higher education, I think we really need to look at the model comprehensively and say, ‘how can we change this model to be sustainable over time?’” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to that specific assignment.

Salomon-Fernandez, 39, a native of Haiti who emigrated to the U.S. when she was 12, brings a diverse résumé to the Greenfield campus, including a stint as interim president of MassBay Community College, followed by her most recent assignment, president of Cumberland County College (CCC) in New Jersey.
Late last fall, it was announced that CCC would be merging with another institution in the Garden State and that her job would be eliminated.

Having already moved with her family several times over the past several years, she wasn’t looking forward to doing so again, but did so (although her husband and children will remain in New Jersey for a year) to keep her career on an upward trajectory — specifically in another college president’s position.

She told BusinessWest she was quite discriminating in her search for the right job opportunity. She applied for a few positions, but quickly set her sights on GCC, the only college in decidedly rural Franklin County.

“This is the one job I wanted — this is really a match made in heaven,” she said. Elaborating, she noted that, while she likes just about everything about the region — from Berkshire Brewing’s lagers to ziplining — she was really drawn in by GCC’s mission, important role in Franklin County, intriguing mix of programs, high transfer rate, and especially the art (much of it courtesy of students enrolled in the highly acclaimed program there) adorning walls, lobbies, and tables across campus.

“The values of GCC and the Pioneer Valley are very consistent with my own and my family’s,” she explained. “The commitment to renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and rural living are all things I’m very passionate about and enjoy; this is a lifestyle that’s conducive to raising kids and a lifestyle that’s grounded.”

But fit also involves the size and nature of the challenge — in this case, a school that has been put on a solid foundation by Pura, but one that still has growth opportunities and challenges to be met.

“I’ve always been a risk taker,” said Salomon-Fernandez, summing up her mindset professionally, adding that, moving forward, her primary assignment is to continue and build upon the momentum generated in recent years under Pura’s stewardship. “GCC had the highest retention rates and the highest graduation rates in the state; that said to me that this is a very stable institution. I want to build on that.”

For this issue and its focus on education, BusinessWest talked at length with Salomon-Fernandez about her latest assignment in higher-education administration and how she intends to grow and diversify this unique ‘academic enterprise.’

Course of Action

As noted earlier, Salomon-Fernandez brings a diverse background, a host of skills, and many forms of experience to her new role.

For starters, she speaks four languages — English, French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish — and has consulted with the United Nations and the Bermuda Ministry of Education, taught as an adjunct professor for many years, held a number of research positions, and spoken and written on subjects ranging from women’s leadership to workforce development.

Her career in education began as a data analyst working on the No Child Left Behind project and continued on an upward trajectory to the college president’s office.

After serving as interim president at MassBay, in Wellesley, and then at Cumberland County College, she found herself looking for the proverbial next challenge. And in the parking lot of the Deerfield Inn, she was looking for a way to take the chill out of her fingers and toes.

She has another anecdote from her early visits to the GCC campus, one that speaks volumes about why she warmed to the campus so quickly and why she made this the focus of her job search.

She had been visiting the art gallery at the school the day before her interview, she recalled, and she was trying to remain ‘incognito,’ as she put it.

GCC campus, as a whole, is innovative and entrepreneurial

Yves Salomon-Fernandez says the GCC campus, as a whole, is innovative and entrepreneurial, and she shares those personality traits.

“I was looking around, and a member of the janitorial staff came up to me said, ‘if you like the artwork, I can show you some more — it’s throughout our entire building,’” she recalled. “My doctorate is in measurement — statistics, cycle metrics … that’s my field. I tell people I see the world as one big structural equation model, and that was the first evidence of the culture here. I’m aggregating different data points and different kinds of data, quantitative and qualitative, to get a picture in my mind of what this place is and what it might be like to work here.”

Finishing the story, she said the janitorial staff member asked a few questions and eventually commented that GCC was a nice place to work and that a few faculty positions and even the president’s position were open. She remained incognito through all of that, but came away even more convinced that this was where she wanted to land professionally.

“For me, I was looking for a place where I could get that kind of professional satisfaction and where the faculty, staff, and educators and engaged in local issues, regional issues, national issues, and international issues,” she went on. “It’s an intellectually vibrant college, and that was huge for me — people who are deeply engaged in their discipline and who care deeply about the human potential and the world in which we live. And also a place where discourse is valued; we may not always agree, but we agree to talk about things and to find a common ground.”

Salomon-Fernandez said that, in many ways, Cumberland N.J. and Greenfield, Mass. are very much alike. While much of the Garden State is urban and densely populated, Cumberland County isn’t. It’s also the poorest county in the state — just as Franklin County is in Massachusetts — and one battling issues ranging from a lack of high-speed Internet access to opioid addiction to job creation and providing individuals with the skills they need to succeed in a changing workplace. Again, just like Franklin County.

That’s another reason this challenge was attractive to her, adding that still another has been GCC’s response to those issues.

“What I really admire about GCC is that the college has been very innovative in terms of finding ways to meet students where they are and addressing their many challenges,” she said. “For example, in our library, we rent laptops to students and Internet routers to students; we lease bikes to students and even telescopes. There are many things the college does to make the school accessible and possible, and enhance student success.

“We were the first college in the country to have a food pantry,” she noted, referencing a facility where students, many of them non-traditional in nature, can not only get a snack but shop for their whole family. “There are a number of things the college has done under Bob Pura’s leadership that are cutting-edge and forward-thinking.”

Looking ahead, she wants to continue that pattern of innovation while carrying out a vital role as the only community college in the county.

Grade Expectations

Elaborating, she said that GCC, like all community colleges, has a diverse student population comprised of both traditional students right out of high school and non-traditional students who joined the workforce after high school and are now looking to enhance their skill sets to create new career opportunities.

That latter constituency (roughly 15% of the student population) is the fastest-growing segment at GCC, and Salomon-Fernandez sees ample opportunity for further growth in that realm.

“In a county like Franklin County, where the attendance rate for higher education is so low, we have the opportunity to make college and professional preparation and workforce training accessible to many more people,” she explained.

Elaborating, she said that one of her goals moving forward is to do even more outreach — the school already does a good deal of that — within the community to help it reach those who might think that college is beyond their reach or not for them.

“They may not understand that the mission of the community college is to help them in ways that a traditional college may not,” she explained. “So spreading the word and really doing outreach, working with our partners to get the word out, is a priority for us.”

Yves Salomon-Fernandez says the enterprise model within higher education must evolve if it is to remain sustainable.

Yves Salomon-Fernandez says the enterprise model within higher education must evolve if it is to remain sustainable.

And getting people into higher education will be critical moving forward, she said, noting that the world of work is changing and the Bay State’s economy is truly knowledge-driven.

“We know that artificial intelligence, automation, computerization, all of those things are becoming more and more prominent,” she noted. “And that has implications for the careers for which we’re preparing students, and also for the pedagogies that we use. So we’ll be becoming much more interdisciplinary as a college, and there’s already a history of that here.”

Meanwhile, the enterprise model within higher education must evolve to remain sustainable, she went on.

“We have to look at whether this model is a financially sustainable model as it is,” Salomon-Fernandez told BusinessWest. “We have a number of contradictions; we hear people say the tenure model is antiquated, and at the same time, we have legions of adjuncts operating in the gig economy without health insurance, without benefits, and without pensions.

“And in some ways, as a higher education, all that is hypocritical, because we teach our students that people should be compensated fairly, and there’s some basic human rights and access to services that they should have,” she went on. “Yet, we struggle to provide that for the very people who are educating the current students.”

Overall, she notes, a school known for being entrepreneurial must be even more so in the years to come, given limited resources for the state and a growing role within the county.

“We have to look at what we can do to supplement those resources from the state because we know they are not sufficient to provide our students with the experiences we want them to have,” she said. “So what are some of the ways we can think entrepreneurially? What are some of the unmet needs within our college and within the market that we can help meet to create value, create revenue, and create experiences for our students?

“We have to think differently,” she said in conclusion. “We’re very committed to reinventing the academic enterprise model here at GCC, there is an appetite for it, and we want to do in a way that remains true to our values.”

Soar Subject

As she talked with BusinessWest on a Friday morning late last month, Salomon-Fernandez said that weekend ahead was packed with activity, including her first encounter with ziplining.

In recent weeks, she’s also had a behind-the-scenes look at Mike’s Maze, the famous cornfield attraction, gone swimming in the Connecticut River, and visited Brattleboro. She’s taking scuba lessons at UMass Amherst and is learning how to fly a drone.

In short, she’s settling into Franklin County and all that it has to offer. She’s also settling in GCC, which, like the country surrounding it, is a perfect match for her.

Like the school itself, in her estimation, she is innovative and entrepreneurial, talents that will be needed to build on the momentum that’s been generated over the past two decades and take the school to even greater heights.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

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