The Recorder - GCC Celebrates 60 Years of Education

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The Recorder - GCC Celebrates 60 Years of Education

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Greenfield — Greenfield Community College celebrated its 60th anniversary of education over the weekend, with events throughout Saturday marking the milestone.

“I love being here,” commented student Katherine Livingston. She said, “I hope it will continue in the future so that each student can be given an equal educational opportunity.”

In this landmark year, the GCC recently hired a new Chancellor, Michel Schutt. In his speech Saturday, he explained that when community colleges were first created, their focus was on getting more people into college. Gradually, educational institutions started pushing people harder to complete college programs.

Schutt said today that GCC not only focuses on the first two aspects, but also works to ensure post-college success.

“We’ve been partnering with local employers to find the skills they’re looking for,” she said in an interview.

Schutt, who took over as president on July 18, explained that key aspects of GCC’s vision are learning, completion, mobility and workforce. Each of these goals is layered with equity to ensure everyone succeeds in the organization.

For example, when Joshua Carnes found GCC, he wasn’t out of high school.

“I never thought I’d go to college,” he recalls.

Carnes explained that open registration helped him start his journey. After graduating from his GCC in 2015, he earned an engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is currently working as an engineer.

In particular, Carnes said he liked the math background he learned at Greenfield, citing the “great professors” and not having to take additional math classes once he got to UMass.

Commenting on his suggestions for the future of community colleges, Carnes said: …if there is a way to scale it up, go for it.

Alumnus Astrid Sheckels explained that many GCC students go on to higher degrees at other institutions, but when she graduated in 2004, she did not go to another school. Instead, she became a children’s book illustrator.

“I use everything I learned here in my work,” she said.

Sheckels explained that he learned how to push himself while at GCC. Her professor taught her to explore her various ideas beyond her first attempt.

“I’m back today as a thank you,” she commented on Saturday.

Michelle Phillips works as Director of Outpatient Nursing at Baystate Health, but when she graduated from GCC in 2009, she never thought she’d make it this far.

Phillips explained that the one-on-one attention from GCC professors was unmatched for the rest of his time in higher education. She tried to apply her lessons learned at her GCC to her own work and got to know her 400 nurses she manages. She has always insisted on using Bay State’s services in Greenfield, and said her seven other locations at the Springfield-based company are competing for resources.

Alumni feel their time at GCC was special, and so do current students.

“It means a lot to be here,” said student Madeline Weinstein. “My professors really care about me.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or