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A Newsletter for Alumni, Parents, and Friends of Greenfield Community College and the GCC Foundation

GCC alumni share career journey with students during “Coffee & Conversation”

Posted on Monday May 12th 2014

L-R, GCC alumni and panel members Noreen Woodruff '13, Elda James '75, and Chris Forgey '78
L-R, GCC alumni and panel members Noreen Woodruff '13, Elda James '75, and Chris Forgey '78
L-R, GCC alumni and panel members Noreen Woodruff '13, Elda James '75, and Chris Forgey '78

The GCC Student Life “Coffee & Conversation” series continued this month with Alumni Journeys, featuring a panel of GCC alums speaking with current students. The panelists spent the noon hour telling their story to students, and then holding a lively Q&A session.

The three alumni each brought a different perspective to both their time at GCC and to the career paths that followed, but the message was consistent: “I got my start at GCC.” And, “if it wasn’t for GCC, I would not have the life I am telling you about.”

L-R, GCC alumni and panel members Noreen Woodruff '13, Elda James '75, and Chris Forgey '78

L-R, GCC alumni and panel members Noreen Woodruff ’13, Elda James ’75, and Chris Forgey ’78

Noreen Woodruff ’13 of Guilford, VT, told students about having to “learn to learn differently” to achieve academic success and of overcoming very difficult life challenges that finally brought her to GCC. Woodruff is the owner/operator a Southview Farm, a sustainable agricultural- focused business and is continuing her studies at GCC to increase her management skills.

Elda James ’75, a Boston-based Haitian born attorney, came to GCC as a young parent She had a very good academic experience, and found the confidence to go on for her Bachelor’s and then law degrees. James’ four decades of practice was first in public defense, then primarily in immigration law – with special focus on the rights of Haitian immigrants.

Chris Forgey ’78, told the students about her circuitous trip to becoming Greenfield’s first mayor. Forgey received her GCC degree while raising her family (two others of whom are GCC alums), then continued to work. It wasn’t until the early 90s that she successfully applied to the Ada Comstock Program at Smith College and received her Bachelor’s. Another decade later, she was elected mayor under Greenfield’s then-brand new charter.

When asked during the question and answer period about what advice they would give current students to support their upcoming journeys, the answers came quickly and with certainty:

“Don’t ever, ever give up. You can do what you hope to do.” – Noreen Woodruff

“Enjoy learning while you are here – you will become a better student and a better teacher of life.” – Elda James

“Always trust in yourself. Go with what you know is right for you.” – Chris Forgey

GCC receives VIP treatment from Springfield Armor


GCC President Bob Pura hosted a great evening of “GCC Night at the Springfield Armor” with a road trip on March 21st to a basketball game at the Mass Mutual Center. Members of our community joined GCC alumni and employees for a wonderful night of VIP treatment, including reserved courtside seating, dinner and great camaraderie while watching this area’s minor league basketball team play to win. This sold-out game was the Springfield Armor’s final home game of the season.

GCC Art Program: Welcome to “Face Nook”


For the past 5 years, an anonymous donor has supplied a $100 award to a GCC painting student each semester to be used to purchase painting supplies. In return, the students have created a miniature self-portrait on a canvas supplied by the donor. Award recipients are art program majors, nominated by the painting faculty, who have demonstrated a commitment to the medium and are producing work of a high standard. We are pleased to announce two exciting opportunities related to this initiative:

1. A collection of these mini portraits will now be offered for sale as part of a unique fundraising exhibit to benefit GCC’s Art Department, hosted by Nina’s Nook in Turners Falls in November 2014.

2. In addition to the existing collection, current and former painting students of the college are also invited to submit their work in this event using 6″ square canvases. The exhibit, to be called “Face Nook,” will open November 14 and close December 6. All work must be delivered to Nina’s Nook by November 5, either in person to the gallery or shipped to: Nina Rossi, 21 Central St, Turners Falls MA 01376. For details contact Nina Rossi,