Greenfield Community College will celebrate the accomplishments of their graduates with both virtual and in-person commencement ceremonies.
GCC’s in-person commencement is Saturday, June 5 and will include graduates from both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, with remarks from President Salomon-Fernández and a student speaker. Each graduate will have the opportunity to walk across the stage while their name and degree is read. Students will be able to bring a small number of guests (still to be determined) and all attendees will need to be registered in advance and have a ticket to attend. Graduates will be grouped with their guests, separated from other groups by 10 feet, and they will not be able to congregate before or after the ceremony. The Nursing Department will also go forward with their traditional pinning ceremony in person on June 5 as well.
GCC’s in-person commencement will be live-streamed to provide access to students and families who cannot attend in person.
Students must RSVP for the in-person commencement ceremony by Friday, April 16 and must pre-register by Friday, May 14. Cap and gown pick-up is scheduled by drive-through at the college’s main campus on Wednesday, May 5 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. For those who cannot attend the pick-up, arrangements can be made to have regalia mailed to them.
GCC’s virtual commencement will air on YouTube, beginning Saturday, June 5. It will include pre-recorded remarks from President Yves Salomon-Fernández, the faculty speaker (retiring nursing professor Trish McPeak-LaRocca), and a student speaker from the Class of 2021. In order to be represented in the virtual ceremony, students must submit a photo of themselves in their cap and gown by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1. The virtual ceremony will take place regardless of the plans for the in-person event.
Complete commencement details and any updates can be found on the GCC Commencement website at www.gcc.mass.edu/commencement.
GCC’s ability to plan and manage the logistics of both virtual and in-person commencement ceremonies at this extraordinary time is thanks to the creativity and hard work of many staff members—including those in facilities, public safety, student activities, and the Registrar’s Office—and coordination with the city of Greenfield.
Even with the difference in set-up, crowd management, and cleaning requirements, Director of Public Safety Alex Wiltz has confidence in the team’s ability to take all of the necessary precautions to help students celebrate their achievements. “We’re a well-oiled machine when it comes to normal commencement. So this has just been a bit of a change for us. But we adapt and overcome—that’s what we do,” he says, adding, “my team has been amazing throughout all of COVID, they’ve managed more than I could have ever asked them to do.”
The campus community is thrilled to be able to celebrate in person the determined and persistent group of students who successfully completed their degrees during the Covid pandemic.
“Theirs has been an extraordinary journey,” says President Salomon-Fernández. “Our students have shown a level of resilience not just for themselves, but also for their loved ones. Many of them are parents, or are taking care of parents and other loved ones, and at the height of the pandemic, we also had students and faculty members who were working in the frontlines, at hospitals, in grocery stores, as educators, and as mail carriers and delivery people. They’ve shown extraordinary courage through this time.”
“Our students have dealt with so much uncertainty, have been required to remain flexible, beyond reason, have managed in the most complex personal circumstances imaginable, from being teachers at home with their own children while they’re studying and working, to struggling through loss of work, as well as food and housing insecurity. And yet they keep their eye on the prize—that education is going to improve their lives in the long run,” Dean of Students Anna Berry affirms. “Commencement is always a magical and exciting event. This year feels exponentially more meaningful, because of the challenges that people have faced.”
Nursing student Sara Edwards of Greenfield is relieved to be done with the challenge of distance learning and glad to be able to celebrate with an in-person pinning ceremony. “I’m very happy to have the opportunity to celebrate with my fellow students and take part in the tradition of being pinned and having the moment of recognition of entering a career field. I’m ready to get out there and help in a more advanced way than I currently am,” she says.
GCC is still developing final details for in-person ceremonies and will provide updates on their commencement website at www.gcc.mass.edu/commencement.