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Grimard/My Turn: GCC experience positive, life-altering

I really enjoyed reading Fran Risinger’s recent “My Turn” article about her son Erik’s journey at GCC. It speaks to the point that I try to make during meetings of the Board of Directors at the GCC Foundation, on which I serve as Student Representative.

The support system at GCC is outstanding and it truly changes so many lives. The Greenfield Community College community really cares about each other and the students flourish because of this. I know I have had many wonderful opportunities come my way.

Just as GCC has changed Erik’s life in many wonderful and powerful ways, it is changing my own. I will never forget my own journey at GCC. I started here when I was 43 and I remember thinking, “Am I too old to be doing this?” and within one week I knew I wasn’t and that I had made an amazing and life-changing decision.

I have been at GCC studying Education for two years (and have been on the Dean’s List for three semesters and am a member of Phi Theta Kappa!). I was a baker for 20 years before that in area private schools. Once the school I worked at had closed, I decided to further my education at GCC, in large part because I had a 3-year-old at home and wanted to be the very best possible role model that I could possibly be for Sophia.

Teaching was always something that I wanted to do, so it was an easy choice to become an Education major. I am getting my Early Childhood Teaching Certificate next week and will graduate spring of 2015 with my Associates degree in Science. I hope to stay on at GCC by enrolling in the Bachelor’s Degree program at Elms College, now available through its Franklin County satellite campus on the GCC campus.

Sophia talks about the day when she, too, will attend Greenfield Community College. Our future is shining bright! GCC is for everyone.

I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the GCC community and had no problem at all settling in to a routine of classes and studying as a non traditional student with obligations to my home and family. I was even able to take a January Intersession course, Public Speaking, which was incredibly intense but very rewarding.

My biggest challenge has been the child care arrangements for my daughter and I am so pleased that the college is looking for funding to build a child care center on campus. In fact, my fellow students in the Education Program, who either share the same child care balancing act that I have or who just understand how important this issue is to parents who work or are enrolled in school, are planning ways we can help with future fundraising activities for this really important project.

Another challenge GCC students face is the cost of textbooks; for example, I spent over $400 on books for two courses last semester. Many students share their textbooks in an effort to save money, which is tricky to coordinate, but necessary to accomplish their goals.

GCC is such a wonderful community and students are really happy to be on campus and be a part of all the really great learning going on here. I am so glad to be following my dream to become a teacher and honored to represent my fellow students on the GCC Foundation Board of Directors.

The GCC Foundation’s mission is to raise funds in support of students and programs at GCC and we are wrapping up our annual campaign soon. I urge you to consider making a gift of any amount that is comfortable for you to the GCC Foundation annual campaign right away and help change lives every day. You can mail your check, payable to the GCC Foundation, to 270 Main St, Greenfield MA 01301 or give online at:

www.gcc.mass.edu/give

Thanks to GCC for the hope it inspires in all of us who want to learn and find a new direction in our life’s journey — and thanks to this community for all of its support for GCC!

Tamara Grimard of Gill is a student at Greenfield Community College who serves on the Board of Directors of the GCC Foundation.

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