A Newsletter for Alumni, Parents, and Friends of Greenfield Community College and the GCC Foundation
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What could a designer/computer programmer in Massachusetts and a magazine editor in Ohio possibly have in common? GCC, of course!

Both Craig Ballou, designer and CNC programmer of R & R Window Contractors in Easthampton and Shannon O’Connor, editor of College Planning & Management magazine in Dayton, Ohio, attended GCC. Craig received several degrees from GCC, including a Liberal Arts Associate degree in 1981, an Engineering Communications Certificate in 1983, and a Management Associate degree in 1990.  Shannon received a Liberal Arts Associate degree with a focus on Music in 1979.

Graduating from GCC isn’t all Craig and Shannon have in common, they also both have a connection with GCC’s new Core Building. R & R did all the glass and glazing work on the core addition at GCC, including several hundred aluminum composite trim panels (look around for the silver and dark bronze areas on the addition!), for which Craig did 90 percent of the design and programming. And, GCC’s new Core Building is featured on the cover of and in an article in the April issue of College Planning & Management.

How did a kid from Orange get to be an architectural component designer and a kid from Hinsdale, NH get to be a magazine editor? For both, their start was at GCC.

Craig Ballou

After high school in Orange, Craig attended Fitchburg State University for a year and a half. Craig realized Fitchburg State wasn’t the right place for him, but when he started at GCC, he did very well. GCC math instructors got him back on track with math, essential for his future work. After Craig received his Engineering Communications Certificate from GCC, he got a job drafting at Greenfield Tap & Die. He then moved on to working in documentation control and design at other area manufacturers. When Craig took a job at Winter Panel Corporation in Brattleboro, he transitioned into an architectural drafting and design function, similar to the work he does now at R&R. For the GCC Core Building project, Craig worked from the architectural drawings to develop panel designs and then programmed the CNC table router that machined the panels.

Shannon O'Connor

Shannon attended high school in Hinsdale, NH and was the first member of her family to go to college. At GCC, she thrived in the environment that included a diverse community with a strong commonality of everyone there because they wanted an education. After GCC, Shannon went to Keene State College to study for a Bachelor’s in Music Education and Clinical Psychology, hoping to be a music therapist. Shannon had grown up in the publishing business – her father had a print shop in Brattleboro, her mother was a reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer. She did proofreading for her father and after college, got a job as a reporter at the Reformer. When she fell in love with someone who lived in Cincinnati, Shannon got a job at a textbook publisher in Ohio. Fifteen years later, Shannon started working at Peter Li Education Group, a publisher of, among other things, magazines focused on particular aspects of education. Since 2005, Shannon has been editor of College Planning & Management, a magazine geared toward people and companies who build and manage the physical campus of colleges and universities.

Craig designs windows and trim for many buildings, and Shannon’s magazine features articles about colleges and universities across the country, but they are particularly proud of their GCC-related work. Craig said, “Designing the Core Building’s panels was a unique project because while the building is rectangular, the roof is a large parallelogram, with the roofline skewed on the north and south sides. Designing the soffits and fascias on those faces required making templates, manufacturing pieces, then measuring to design the next section. Since I drive through Greenfield while commuting between my Northfield home and my office in Easthampton, on my way home from work I took newly manufactured parts to GCC, got up on a lift, and measured the next section. For a different project, I wouldn’t have been so involved, but I did the extra work because it was easy to go by the College and fun to work on a project at GCC.”

How did GCC end up on the cover of Shannon’s magazine? In 2011, Shannon attended a conference of the Society of College and University Planning in Washington, DC. At the conference’s opening reception, she met Ken Fisher, an architect who worked on the GCC Core Building. Ken introduced Shannon to GCC President Bob Pura. When Shannon told Bob she was a GCC graduate and described classes with Wil Roberts and Dave Johnson, he was very surprised and pleased to make the connection. “GCC alums can be found all over the country!” he said. At Bob’s invitation, Shannon attended a conference session about the new GCC Core Building and was impressed with the building’s accessible entrance. Back in Ohio, when Shannon was working on an article focused on accessibility, she remembered that welcoming entrance. She contacted Ken to get information about the building’s accessibility features. When Shannon received photos of the new GCC building, she told her magazine’s art director, “I’d love to feature GCC on the cover.”

Shannon got her wish. A photo of GCC’s new Library is on the cover of the April issue of her magazine.

And, just to make even more connection between the kid from Orange and the kid from Hinsdale who both went to GCC: Look at the photo of the GCC Core Building featured on page 83 of Shannon’s magazine and you’ll see panels that Craig designed.

Shannon plans to stop by GCC the next time she’s home in New England. Perhaps she can meet Craig and he can show her his design work. The new Core Building does more than connect the different parts of GCC’s main building and all the people who study, work, and visit GCC. It also connects alumni who got their start at GCC and now live far apart.

To see the photos and article about GCC in Shannon’s magazine, visit: http://collegeplanning.epubxpress.com/ Or browse our photo gallery below (all photos courtesy of Gensler).