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.”
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