Transformation is Key: Graduates Prepared to Tackle Opioid Epidemic

May 26, 2017

The first three graduates of GCC’s new Addiction Studies Certificate Program are on their way to tackling addiction.

How’d they get to GCC? Where are they headed next? What advice do they offer prospective students?

Lynne White, 50s, Buckland/Shelburne Falls. For 20 years, worked several part-time jobs simultaneously. Single mother of six children, currently aged 13 to 30. Works as an addiction counselor for BHN at the Franklin Recovery/Northern Hope Center in Greenfield.

Lynne said, “GCC is my first time at college. I am studying full-time to earn my Bachelor’s in Social Work. The one-year Addiction Studies Certificate option is intense. I was at school four days a week, worked 20 hrs a week, did 300 hours of internship time, and had four teenagers at home. I want everyone to know that addiction is a disease and there should be no stigma attached to it. It can happen anywhere, at any time, and to anyone.”

Zac Andross, 44, Northampton area. Currently a full-time parent, studied at Western Michigan University and Michigan State University, worked as a manufacturing engineer. Has applied to work as a mental health counselor and will study full-time toward a B.S. in Social Work.

Zac said, “The program was a very comprehensive and in-depth educational experience that can be applied to the counseling field, as well as your life. This program covers everything needed to be a well-rounded counselor and the work/classes reflect this. We desperately need counselors to help in the arena of addiction and this program is invaluable in serving this need.”

Stacey Pacheco, 47, Millers Falls. Worked 18 years as an Administrative Officer for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, wanted a career change. Mother of two, grandmother of seven. Completed an internship at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, is looking for a job, and will study toward a bachelor’s degree.

Stacey said, “I absolutely loved my internship, so I will pursue a career in corrections. My advice: Be prepared to work hard and explore parts of your mental and emotional self that you thought you knew. It is important to come into this program with an open mind. It has been a growing experience for me, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Also, understand that this work takes its toll, so self-care must be a priority.”

What Makes GCC’s Addiction Studies Program Unique?

Amy Ford, Human Services Faculty & Program Coordinator, explains, “What makes this program unique is embedded in GCC as a whole—small class sizes, personal attention, excellent support services, a strong liberal arts ethos. The program is a rigorous introduction to the field of addiction treatment and recovery. The most important predictor of a successful outcome for this population is the counselor. I educate and train empathic practitioners who will leave GCC with a passion for this work and the ability to actualize compassion and respect for people who are on a treatment and recovery journey.”

Learn more at or contact Amy Ford at or (413) 775-1127.

By Mary McClintock, ’82