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Greenfield Community College

GCC Foundation kicks off annual fundraiser

GREENFIELD — Growing up, Mareike Muszynski didn’t see herself as the academic type.

No one in her mother’s family had gone to college and the Maine native didn’t think she could succeed.

She pursued the healing arts, attending massage school and moving to Hawaii where her father lived.

But eventually, Muszynski, 38, wanted an education, and she moved to western Massachusetts, where she had family and where she found Greenfield Community College.

With its supportive, engaging professors, GCC quickly propelled Muszynski forward, giving her confidence in herself as a student. Although the Greenfield woman did not want to leave the school that helped her become a leader, she enrolled in Wellesley College. Years later, she now works as a social worker, professor and consultant specializing in anti-racism initiatives.

“This would not be my life if not for GCC,” Muszynski explained Thursday as the GCC Foundation prepared for its annual fundraising.

When Stephen Zacek, 20, came to GCC three years ago, he was looking for a place to feel comfortable. It didn’t take too long after meeting his teachers and becoming part of the business club and Phi Theta Kappa. During his time at GCC, he lived at home and began working in his chosen field — hospitality and marketing — ahead of all his peers at four-year schools. He began working at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. He is now the co-banquet manager there and has applied to the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say they wish GCC was a four-year school,” Zacek said. “It’s so accommodating and it is really a community. I couldn’t be happier with where I am today.”

The two alumni spoke to a crowd of about 50 people at the kickoff to the foundation’s fundraising campaign, which supports the college and its students in ways the college can’t afford.

By May 31, the foundation aims to collect $825,000 in donations with its 61 volunteer campaigners. The foundation has already raised $381,937. The campaign is led this year by co-chairs Joe Ruggeri of Greenfield and Rich Fahey of Greenfield with 15 new volunteers.

The mission of GCC is to inspire hope through education.

“Hope is real and sustaining,” said GCC President Robert Pura. “It is real and sustaining when the doors of education are truly open.”

“Here in this room, hope, which is at the heart of education, is realized,” Pura said. “You make hope and education real and you make sure it is sustainable.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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