Bristol Community College has announced its 2013 Commencement honorees to be recognized at this year’s graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 1, at the BCC Fall River Campus.
Donald J. Smyth will receive the first-ever John J. Sbrega, Ph.D., Exemplary Service Award, David M. Simas and James H. Mathes will be awarded honorary degrees from the College, and Frank P. Baptista will be named the 2013 Distinguished Citizen.
The John J. Sbrega, Ph.D., Exemplary Service Award was established by the Board of Trustees to recognize a College volunteer for outstanding contributions to the college. Donald J. Smyth, an Attleboro resident, is the Vice President of Bristol County Savings Bank in Taunton, and a noted philanthropist, volunteer and supporter for the Attleboro community. He advocated the construction of the BCC Attleboro Center, which opened in 2008. He served on the BCC Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2012, nine years as chair, and he was elected president of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Trustees’ Association for 2009-2010.
David M. Simas and James H. Mathes will receive the honorary Associate in Arts in Humane Letters.
David M. Simas, a Taunton native, currently works for President Barack Obama as Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor for Communications and Strategy. He served as Director of Opinion Research for Obama during his re-election campaign and held the same role for the Democratic National Committee. Before his journey to Washington, Simas was involved in local politics, serving on the Taunton School Committee and was elected the Taunton Municipal Council.
A New Bedford native and veteran of the United States Navy, James H. Mathes has spent more than 30 years working in the community for programs such as People, Incorporated, SMILES Mentoring Program, and Junior Achievement of Greater New Bedford. Mathes is perhaps known best for the 22 years he spent as President of the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce 1984-2006. While President of the Chamber, Mathes founded popular events and programs such as Greater New Bedford Summerfest and Home Show, and the SouthCoast Business Expo. He was the inaugural chair of the BCC Co-op Advisory Board, a position he still holds.
Frank P. Baptista will be named BCC’s 2013 Distinguished Citizen
Frank P. Baptista, BCC’s 2013 Distinguished Citizen, has been a local icon for decades. Baptista has a long history of bringing Portuguese history, issues, and events to the community through his presence in local media. He spent 18 years writing A Nossa Voz, a weekly column for the Herald News, 22 years hosting Impacto, a bi-weekly public service program on WJAR-TV 10, and has spent the previous 25 years as host of Radio Voz do Emigrante on WHTB-1400AM. Born in Cape Verde, Baptista has been a vocal advocate for Portuguese immigrants, assisting thousands with naturalization and translation before the Immigration and Naturalization offices in Providence and Boston. He has also been involved with local organizations, serving on the boards for the Fall River Chamber of Commerce, American Heart Association of SouthCoast, and LusoCentro at Bristol Community College.