Great Bay Community College celebrated its 75th commencement outdoors on its Portsmouth campus over the weekend. To safely accommodate graduating students and a limited number of guests, the college hosted four separate ceremonies, at 4 p.m. Friday, May 14, 10 a.m., 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, May 15.
In total, Great Bay conferred 343 degrees or certificates during the weekend festivities. Graduates from 2020 were invited to participate, after in-person ceremonies were canceled last year because of the pandemic.
The college began in 1945 as the State Trade School at Portsmouth and has become one of northern New England’s leading two-year institutions of higher learning, offering 60 degree and certificate programs in the sciences, technical studies, and liberal arts while serving as an educational and career hub for students, businesses, and the community.
Dr. Cathryn Addy, interim president, gave the commencement address at each Ceremony. She praised students and faculty for their determination and perseverance through a challenging year. When addressing the nursing students at their Pinning and Commencement Ceremony, she thanked them for their commitment to completing their degree. “…While there are a zillion reasons you could have changed your mind this past year,” she said, “we are grateful that you did not waiver…those you now serve will be so lucky to have you caring for them.”
Student speakers were Erin Hegerty, 4 p.m. Friday; Kayla Kaulback and Samantha Catalano, 10 a.m. Saturday; Reigan Toof, 1 p.m. Saturday; Samantha Catalano, 4 p.m. Saturday.
Nursing graduate and class speaker, Erin Hegerty, spoke about how she came to the nursing program after witnessing the caregivers who took care of her grandmother as she battled cancer. “I saw her interactions with the nurses that cared for her and the gratitude she had for those who offered her time and compassion….A nurse is an advocate and caregiver for most people during the most difficult time in their lives. I thought how honored I would feel to be that person. I applied to GBCC and can say now never second guessed that decision….I believe my classmates and I are strongly prepared to become RN’s.”
During the 10:00AM ceremony, Student Speaker, Kayla Kaulback , who is planning on transferring to UNH to pursue a degree in Biotechnology, spoke about the importance of campus life. “Service was as an integral part of the Great Bay experience.” she said. “Without it, I would have not met the friends who supported me, the mentors I look up to…nor the connections with members of community.” She ended her speech encouraging fellow graduates to continue to “get involved and take the path that leads to growth.”
Samantha Catalano, who also spoke at the ceremony, shared with fellow graduates and attendees how she overcame the challenges of pursuing her degree in Teacher Education while raising her daughter as a single parent and, ultimately finding a career she “truly loves.”
The Pinning and Commencement Ceremony for the Nursing program held on Friday also included a History of Pinning offered by Dr. Dulcinea Kaufman, Nursing Department Chair who also presented the graduates with their pins. Professor of Nursing, Heather Lemire, did the Reading of Pinning Sentiments and Kathryn Walsh lead the Nursing Class of 2021 in the Nursing Pledge.
The following awards were announced during the Ceremonies:
President’s Award for Outstanding Adjunct: Adjunct Nursing Clinical Instructor, Reid Gourley. The award is given to an adjunct faculty member whose commitment to Great Bay Community College serves academic integrity and students needs in the greater interest of the teaching-learning environment.
President’s Award for Outstanding Student: Nursing Student, Ashley Nicole Atkinson. The award is given to a member of the college community whose endeavors have made a significant difference at the College.
Chancellor’s Award for Service Excellence: Director of Athletics and Student Engagement, Brian Scott and Director of Student Life, Brittanie Mulkigian. Among the criteria, the award is given to a candidate who has demonstrated innovation in service to students and has made a positive impact on the college community.
Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence: Veterinary Technology Associate Professor, Bonnie Miller. The award is based on criteria including a demonstration of teaching innovation, leadership, an individual’s impact on students, community involvement, as well as service to the college.
Academic Award winners:
Accounting AS Jonathan Agea
Bioengineering AS Ellen Blackwell
Biological Science AS Kristin Daley
Biotechnology AS Uyen Ly
Business Administration AS Samantha Siegel
Computer Technologies AS Heath Bennett
Criminal Justice AS Alexandra Kelley
Cyber Security Infrastructure AS Paul Cleworth
Digital Media Communications AS Sean Thibodeau
Engineering Science AS Lucas Allen
English AA Madeline Ramirez
Environmental Science AS Amber Keiling
Fine Arts AA Maryka Ford
History AA – Brittany Wood
Hospitality Management Direct Career AS Rayyan Awlia
Hotel, Restaurant & Event Management AS Abigail Poisson
Information Systems Technology AS Zachary Urrutia
Liberal Arts AA Faith Limbat
Liberal Arts / Chemistry AA Johnathan Garcia
Nursing AS Rachel Saul
Psychology AA Reigan Toof
Surgical Technology AS Mary Pontbriand
Teacher Preparation AA Aubrey Kenney
Technical Studies AS Kimberly Laroche
Veterinary Technology AS Lee-Ann Genest
In Dr. Addy’s address at the 10AM ceremony, she also commended students on their completion, especially in light of this past year. “When you entered this campus, we wanted you to feel safe enough to risk experiencing new things and new relationships, and we wanted you to challenge yourself academically yet know that we were there to help you if you stumbled. We have tried very hard to make sure you have all the tools you need to succeed as you leave.”
“The very fact that you are here,” President Addy continued, “speaks volumes about your potential and about your commitment to create a future for yourself that is meaningful and resilient…… Your presence here is evidence, …that you are ready”.