50th Associate Degree Nursing Pinning Ceremony

June 5, 2015

On June 4, Greenfield Community College held a special graduation and pinning ceremony for the 50th class of students to complete GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program. Along with celebrating this year’s 40 nursing graduates, the ceremony included the awarding of three scholarships to fund further nursing education for GCC graduates as well as the announcement of a new partnership between GCC and Elms College to offer an Elms College Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree completion program at the GCC campus. The new GCC/Elms College RN-BS in Nursing program will begin in Fall 2015, will be taught on-site at Greenfield Community College, and will be open to anyone who has an Associate Degree in Nursing. Specific details of the curriculum and program are still being finalized.

Participating in the ceremony were six members of the first GCC Associate Degree nursing class of 1965 who welcomed the graduate nurses to the profession of nursing. One of those class of 1965 graduates is long-time GCC nurse educator Jean Simmons. In fall 2014, anonymous donors established the Greenfield Community College Jean Simmons Nursing Endowed Chair Fund to honor Simmons, create an endowed faculty chair in Nursing, and provide scholarships to GCC nursing students. At the June 4 Pinning Ceremony, Simmons and

GCC’s Assistant Dean of Nursing Programs Nancy Craig-Williams presented the Jean Simmons Endowed Chair Fund scholarships to new Associate of Science in Nursing graduates who will continue their studies toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing: Kiah M. Crowley (will attend Elms College), Sara R. Garfinkel (will attend Southern New Hampshire University), and Chelsea E. Grybko (will attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst).

Commenting on the new partnership with Elms, GCC President Bob Pura said, “This new Baccalaureate completion program is a very important one to our current Nursing students, our alumni, and the health care of our community. It is essential that nurses in our community have access to a high quality BSN program and Elms is a perfect fit. This program is made even more affordable because of the One Million Dollar gift to GCC to establish the Jean Simmons Endowed Faculty Chair. That gift will provide scholarships and support for students ascending to the next level. Once again, I am appreciative of our faculty and leadership here at GCC and for our colleagues at Elms College who work to make this happen. It is a partnership that is transforming the lives of our students as well as the educational opportunities in our community.”

Dr. Kathleen Scoble, Dean of the School of Nursing at Elms College, said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to expand our partnership with Greenfield Community College with the addition of the Elms RN-BS in Nursing program. It has been a wonderful experience for Dr. Suzanne Barenski, Director of RN Studies at Elms, and me to work with Nancy Craig-Williams, Assistant Dean of Nursing Programs for GCC, in the development of our GCC program. We found that we share the same commitment for promoting advanced education for nurses and to strengthening the pathway for GCC graduates to build on the excellent nursing education they have received at GCC and move on to earning their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Elms College. The Elms School of Nursing and RN-BS program has a long history of nursing education with a proud legacy of successful graduates. We look forward to reaching more and more GCC nurse graduates with our Greenfield program site.”

Simmons applauded the new GCC/Elms program, saying “The GCC/Elms connection has been in place for many years but having a formal program of coursework will provide a seamless transition through an educational path that will give students a clear plan to help them organize their valuable time. Hopefully, this will inspire our GCC nursing graduates with their ASN to transition into the Elms RN-BS in Nursing program and then continue to an MSN level of preparation for their nursing career. This Elms College RN-BS in Nursing coursework AT GCC is an excellent use of the College as a resource, especially as the ‘commute’ will be local!”

Craig-Williams commented, “The 50th Pinning Ceremony is testimony to GCC’s long history of educating nurses in our community. There is significant support from the community for GCC’s nursing education programs, including the anonymous donors who funded the Jean Simmons Endowed Faculty Chair and the scholarships that are part of that fund. The new GCC/Elms RN-BS in Nursing program is the next step in GCC’s efforts to expand nursing education opportunities in our community and comes in part as a response to a national call for more BSN-educated nurses.”

Mary Ellen Fydenkevez, GCC’s Dean of Engineering, Math, Nursing & Science, said, “This is such a great opportunity for students who are looking for seamless progression in the Nursing field. The combination of the Elms program offered here at GCC and the Jean Simmons scholarships are the perfect support for students to obtain this goal.”

In May, Jean Simmons Endowed Chair Fund Scholarships were awarded to the following students completing the Certified Nursing Assistant program and progressing to the Licensed Practical Nurse Program: Amar Bajracharya, Meghan Kline, Venus Krasaeleup, Anabela Fernandes, and Courtney Lebrun. Laurel Goodhind and Ashley Witherspoon received scholarships to continue from the Licensed Practical Nurse Program to the Associate Degree Nursing Program.

As well as working as a nurse in the community, Jean Doherty Simmons taught in GCC’s Nursing program in 1968 and from 1974 to 2003 and served as Coordinator of the Associate of Science Nursing Program from 1998 to 2003. Simmons is now a Professor Emeritus. Simmons holds an Associate of Science in Nursing from GCC, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing  from St. Anselm College, and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At GCC, she served as Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Acting Director-Nursing Program (1983-84, 1993-94), Professor (1990-2003), Coordinator-AD Nursing Program (1998-2003), and Service Learning Coordinator for the ADN Program (2003-2012), Professor Emeritus (2003-current).

For information about the new GCC/Elms RN-BS in Nursing program, contact Dr. Suzanne Barenski, Director of RN Studies at Elms College School of Nursing (barenskis@elms.edu).

For information about the GCC’s Nursing Programs and scholarships, contact Melissa Davis, AD Nursing Program Assistant, at 413-775-1753, davism@gcc.mass.edu or Nancy Craig-Williams, Assistant Dean, at 413-775-1758, craig-williams@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ‘82