May 18, 2021

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”.