A Newsletter for Alumni, Parents, and Friends of Greenfield Community College and the GCC Foundation
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From GCC to Ph.D.

Caitlin Carey ’12 remembers the ways GCC prepared her for success

Caitlin Carey ’12, was waiting for Amy Proietti, Coordinator of Financial Aid at GCC, to arrive last year at a conference on issues related to homeless college students sponsored by UMass Boston.  At one of the information tables staffed by Caitlin, Amy was greeted with “I’m so excited someone from GCC is here—I saw your name on the registration list and hoped I would meet you!”

Caitlin went on to share all of the ways GCC prepared her to be a successful student. She fondly remembers classes with Professors Bryan Adams (Science) and Thom Simmons (Economics.) She reiterated several times how her classes at GCC and professors at GCC were better than any she has had since, which is certainly a strong statement in light of the levels of education she went on to attain.

Caitlin, a Public Policy Doctoral Student/Research Assistant at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies Center for Social Policy at UMass Boston, has traveled a long way since she first enrolled at GCC with “the odds stacked against” her to the successful life helping those in need that she has carved out for herself.

As a second year doctoral student, she is a mixed-methods researcher interested in issues of poverty and inequality in the United States, including homelessness and housing policies as well as public assistance benefits and social services. Some of Caitlin’s specific research interests include LGBTQ+ homelessness prevention, anti-homeless ordinances in American cities, barriers to accessing public assistance benefits, the need for more safe havens in the U.S. and opportunities for bottom-up policy making in the area of homelessness.

After graduating from Amherst High School, Caitlin originally enrolled at a 4-year college, but it was not a good fit for her, academically or socially. She knew immediately that she was at the right place when she arrived at GCC, and began her studies in earnest. She graduated with an Associate in Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resources in 2012, coincidentally the same year as her sister, Brianna Ronayne. Both followed in their mother’s footsteps—Kathie Terry was a first generation GCC student who graduated in 2000 with an Associate in Business Administration.

Caitlin’s educational journey went on to include receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration in 2015 from Southern New Hampshire University, where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA. From there, she began a combined Master’s/Doctoral Program in Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boson, where she will receive her Master of Science in Public Policy this year and anticipates her Doctorate degree in 2020. She has also received recognition as a scholar with several awards and admittance into three honor societies.

Caitlin worked with two organizations that relate to her field of study. She interned at the UMass Boston Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support services, where she conducted research and reviewed and recommended improvements on intake processes. Prior to that, she worked at a homeless shelter in Maine where she provided both indirect and direct services to homeless women. It was that exposure to the challenging array of bureaucratic, advocacy and administrative work required to help those who struggle with homelessness informed the educational path she now travels.