Students Credit Academic Success to GCC

March 30, 2017

Question:  What do a corrections intern in Washington, DC and a soon-to-be law school student in Maine have in common?

 Answer:   Greenfield Community College’s Criminal Justice Program.

 Where are they now?

Brice Gagnon, 21, from Conway, graduated from GCC in December 2015 with an Associate in Science in Criminal Justice and a Certificate in Corrections. Currently a student at Westfield State University (WSU) in Criminal Justice, Brice is spending the spring semester as an intern for the District of Columbia’s Corrections Information Council (CIC). The CIC inspects and monitors the conditions of confinement where DC residents are incarcerated because DC no longer has its own prison. Brice describes the GCC Criminal Justice Department’s contribution to her success, “GCC was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the time I spent at GCC. One of the things that I liked most about GCC is the variety of classes and the teachers. I enjoyed every teacher and class I had during my five semesters at GCC. It was incredibly easy for me to transfer from GCC to WSU. I completed my courses needed for MassTransfer, gave my transcript to a WSU during a site visit to GCC, and within a few weeks I got my acceptance letter stating all of my GCC courses were accepted.”

Alex Keir, 22, from Bernardston, graduated from GCC in Spring 2015 with an Associate in Science in Criminal Justice, transferred to Westfield State University, and will finish a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in May 2017. Alex has been accepted into the University of Maine’s School of Law in Portland and plans a career in administrative law or public policy. “I’m very thankful for my GCC experience. I wasn’t the best high school student, but my professors at GCC helped me realize my potential and helped me excel both in and out of the classroom. I will graduate with honors from WSU this spring and I can say confidently that I would not be where I am today without GCC.”

Familiar Faces in New Places

David Lanoie, GCC’s new Program Coordinator for Criminal Justice Programs has taught as an adjunct instructor in the program for 14 years. David earned his J.D. from Suffolk University and B.A. from College of the Holy Cross. His 30 years of professional experience in corrections includes work in Sheriff’s Departments in eastern and central Massachusetts and most recently as Superintendent and Special Sheriff, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and Chief Administrative Officer for Franklin County House of Corrections. David reports, “As a community college, GCC is responsive to local and community concerns. In an atmosphere of soaring tuition costs, GCC provides a gateway to educational and career opportunity for students of all ages, genders, cultures, and backgrounds. We focus on individuals seeking a better life for themselves and their families. GCC adheres to a high standard in accentuating the ‘community’ in community college. Faculty mentor each student’s unique goals within an atmosphere of commitment and sensitivity. I will continue to serve students as my primary focus. I am eager to use my experience to ensure the criminal justice programs are the most academically diverse, professionally relevant, and community connected in the region.”

Another key reason for student success has been adjunct instructor, Paul Palazzo. Paul has been appointed the academic advisor for all students enrolled in GCC’s Criminal Justice degree and certificate programs to ensure strong mentorship and success in transfer and/or pursuing career goals. Paul has an associate’s degree from Manchester Community College, a bachelor’s in Sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University, and a master’s in Criminal Justice from Westfield State College. Paul spent 30 years in law enforcement, including military police, municipal police in Connecticut and 24 years in the Massachusetts State Police. Paul reports, “GCC’s Criminal Justice Program is a wonderful place for students and faculty. Our program staff have extensive criminal justice backgrounds, our small class sizes enable discussion and individual attention, and the GCC community is supportive and focused on student success. GCC graduates often find local employment in traditional criminal justice related fields: police, security, corrections, and the courts. Many graduates continue their education to expand their career options by becoming attorneys, probation officers, corrections counselors, social workers, and victim/witness advocates, to name a few.”

Kathy Vranos, Dean of Business, Information Technology, Professional Studies & Social Sciences, praises the energy and relevance of this academic department at GCC. “The success of Brice and Alex and many other criminal justice alumni is very gratifying. We are so proud of these students and the contributions they will make to their communities.”

Want to Learn More?

Criminal Justice courses are open to all students as electives and are relevant for students majoring in human services, sociology, addiction studies, and more.  For information about Criminal Justice programs, contact David Lanoie at 413-775-1167, LanoieD@gcc.mass.edu and visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/programs/criminal-justice/.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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