Page 15 - BusinessWest 40 Under Forty 2024
P. 15

Shannon Glenn
Academic Coordinator, Gateway to College at Holyoke Community College: Age 39
Special Congratulations from Holyoke Community College to
Tiffany Cutting Madru, Director, HCC Foundation Board Shannon Glenn, HCC Staff, Gateway to College Chirsmery Gonzalez, Former HCC Adjunct Professor Payton North, HCC Alumna, Class of 2015
       “Students trust Shannon. They lean in her doorway to say ‘good morning.’
They often disappear into her office, sometimes talking through some issues and sometimes just resting in a safe spot.
“Gateway students have left the traditional educational system for myriad issues, and each student needs to be seen and nurtured and valued individually. Shannon knows their triggers, their dreams, their classes, their vulnerabilities, their friends, and even their favorite snack.
“She is warm, welcoming, respectful, calm, and wise. You can feel her goodwill and compassion. She has created a culture where students feel seen and respected, where they can regain their confidence and hope and lean into their future.”
These observations, from Vivian Ostrowski, director of the Gateway to College program at Holyoke Community College (HCC), and offered in the form of a Forty Under 40 nomination, explain why Shannon Glenn
is extremely good at her job — academic coordinator in the Gateway program.
In short, she has the needed qualities to help these students get where they want to go. And there’s something else: she can relate to everything they are going through.
“In high school, I was one of those students who people thought wouldn’t have graduated were it not for my mentor,” she said. “So I
grew up and decided to be that for someone else.”
In her role at HCC, Glenn helps students who are at risk of dropping out, for any of many reasons, stay in school and then graduate, as evidenced by a success rate of nearly 80%. She said success comes, as Ostrowski also noted, from helping students regain both confidence and hope.
It’s an extremely rewarding job, she said.
“This is my life’s work. Taking the students that most think are not going to graduate from high school and having them be extremely successful in high school as well as college ... it feels like giving the underdog an opportunity to thrive.”
Glenn has certainly thrived in her role. She came to it after working as an elementary- school teacher; leaving education to raise her son, Kasen, now 10; working in real estate; and then searching for something in higher education that would be rewarding and meet a real need.
She’s found that something at HCC, where she is also a founding member of the Black Leadership Council, an advisor to HCC Black Student Alliance, and a member of the college’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. BW
—George O’Brien
2024 A15

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