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Risinger/My Turn: Help from the very start

My son, Erik, researched colleges in the Amherst-Northampton area and decided on Greenfield Community College as the place to start his college education.

He was rather shy and, although he always had good grades in school, he still lacked confidence in his ability to succeed at the college level. All my assurances that he would do very well in college didn’t raise his confidence because he felt I was just a mom talking, and moms aren’t objective. And, I must admit that his hearing stories about my completely impersonal educational experience at a huge Big Ten university in the Midwest didn’t add to his positive thoughts about colleges.

Absolutely all of his doubts about colleges and his abilities vanished with the wonderful teaching and guidance and encouragement of the GCC faculty and staff. Even when he went to register, he said that people just stopped by and offered to help him fill out the paperwork. He didn’t even know whether they worked there; they were just all being helpful.

That was his first shock. And everything just kept getting better and better.

The faculty convinced Erik that he could do very well in higher math than he ever dreamed he could do; and he could do well in engineering courses and computer programming, as well as liberal arts. He told me that somehow, someone had gathered a whole group of faculty whose entire mission was to help students succeed. And they did that while holding the students to high academic standards. After my college experience, this was just incredible to me. My son, Marc, liked the college he went through, but when he heard Erik talk about GCC, he said, “Mom, I’m actually jealous.”

Finally, I so appreciated the role models Erik had in the faculty and staff. They weren’t just college teachers and workers; they were fine, caring people with qualities to be admired. When I mentioned this to Erik, he said he appreciated that about them also. Since my husband died when Erik had just turned 4 and my son, Marc, was 11/2, good male role models are especially important. However, Erik often spoke appreciatively of the capable and caring women on the faculty and staff as well.

It is not an exaggeration to say that GCC gave Erik a life. He is now at UMass-Amherst, and doing very well in computer science and has already been cited for academic excellence in various classes.

Contributions to the GCC Foundation annual campaign are always welcome and appreciated. The college works tirelessly to obtain state and federal funding so the school can continue to provide a quality education for college students of all ages, but GCC also relies on the support of its community of neighbors, alumni and businesses. Please consider making a gift now by visiting or calling 413-775-1600.

Thank you, Greenfield Community College!

With gratitude and appreciation,

Fran Risinger.

Fran Risinger is a Northampton resident.

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