The BCC Community celebrated the 2013 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 1, 2013, at
11 a.m. on the Fall River Campus.
Approximately 1,100 graduates were honored as the College awarded associate in science, associate in arts, and associate in applied science degrees. Certificates of achievement were also awarded. Dr. John J. Sbrega, President of the College, presided.
Donald J. Smyth received the first-ever John J. Sbrega, Ph.D. Exemplary Service Award, David M. Simas and James H. Mathes were awarded honorary degrees from the College, and Frank P. Baptista was named the 2013 Distinguished Citizen.
As we prepare for Commencement, enjoy some of these stories of student success from our Class of 2013:
H. Michael A. Lasko
Business Administration Career
Before Michael Lasko of Seekonk enrolled at Bristol Community College he was working 60-plus hours as a trash collector. He was unhappy with his work and knew that he wanted more out of life. He said, “Frankly, I do not believe anyone could be satisfied with their position in life when the job is to pick up trash 14 hours a day.”
He enrolled at BCC taking a couple of courses a semester in Attleboro. After his son was born during his first semester, Michael reports that he became motivated to not just finish school but to excel both in coursework and college service. He took most of his degree program at the Attleboro Center, where he worked as a student ambassador, assisting College administration. He was elected to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society. Michael also received both the Silver Shield Award and was inducted into the the Sceptre and Scroll Society. As his Service-learning project, he led a group of students to create the Attleboro STEM Education Scholarship, raising nearly $2,000 in scholarships. He graduates with an associate in science in business administration, with a 3.9 G.P.A., on June 1.
As of last November, Michael no longer works for a trash company. He has accepted a position as a distribution manager with Panera Bread, a Fortune 500 company, overseeing logistical operations for New England and New York. He has also been accepted to Bryant University on an Archway Scholarship and will be majoring in Management.
He has no doubt that without the experiences in the Business Administration Program and lessons learned at BCC, none of his career advancements would have happened. “Since enrolling at BCC, I have dramatically improved by economic standing and my career potential.”
Jennifer Moore, resident of Riverside, RI, believes that artists can make a living in corporate America. And as she graduates magna cum laude with an associate’s in arts degree from Bristol Community College on June 1, one of her goals is to start an organization to help artists do just that.
She put this passion into practice with an eight-month project that grew out of Professor Erik Durant’s Introduction to Museum Fabrication course last summer. She was a chief contributor in building from scratch the Dino Room at the new home of the Greater Fall River Children’s Museum on North Main Street. Children can dig for “fossils,” drive a Jurassic Park-like jeep, and climb a rock face.
Through the College’s Cooperative Education program, Moore is working for Providence’s Steel Yard, where she puts her artistic abilities to work in a practical way she had previously not considered. Moore did welding, design, and metalworking for several projects, and will continue to work with The Steel Yard through the summer months on a public project that will collaborate with BCC and downtown New Bedford. The idea of the project is to offer artists a chance to take part in the revitalization of the downtown and put their abilities to use in a practical way.
This collaboration isn’t just a passing fancy: this is Moore’s passion. She wants to create environments and projects that provide real-life opportunities to artists in New England. As someone who has put her artistic passion to a professional use, she wants to help others do the same. Be it in the workplace or other professional settings, she wants to see other artists have a chance to succeed, and create a sustainable life for themselves, while never giving up their passion.
She credits her internship at The Steel Yard for opening her eyes to the relationship between the evolving economy and the practical use of artistic ability in modern society.
Moore will be applying to RISD, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and UMass Dartmouth with the intent to transfer sometime next year.
She graduates with a 3.89 G.P.A.
Maurice Cyr wants to make a difference – and he already has. Called Mo by his many friends, he received the college’s highest honor, the Mace and Shield, for leadership, character, honesty, and integrity, in part for all the work he has done to help the less fortunate.
He has seen the other side. He has been the one who has had to ask for help, and he’s experienced the stigma that sometimes comes along with it. So when this Fall River resident decided to enroll at BCC, Cyr dedicated himself to make a real difference in his community.
In the Paralegal Studies program, he immersed himself in as many community projects as he could, both in and outside of the college. He joined the Academic Support Club, where he eventually became President, to help students struggling to grasp certain subjects. The club held fundraisers throughout the year to provide support for community organizations, including a “Five Guys” fundraiser He joined the Commonwealth Honors Program, and he involved himself with community service following a course in community leadership with Dr. Mary Zahm, professor of psychology. Perhaps his most significant contribution on campus came from his work with Civic Engagement, where he helped bring Greater Boston Food Bank monthly Mobile Markets to the Fall River Campus. More than 1,600 people were served.
For his civic activities Cyr was also named a Newman Civic Fellow. The award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.
Now that Cyr is graduating, he’s turning his attention to how he can help his community professionally. He intends on continuing his pursuit of education in Paralegal Studies, and he completed an internship at South Coastal Counties Legal Services, which provides legal advice for low-income individuals. He plans on staying involved in food drives, helping out four different food pantries in the area, and finding new ways to make a difference.
Culinary Arts – Baking and Pastry
Jessica Masse, a Fall River resident, will graduate on June 1 from Bristol Community College with a degree in Culinary Arts, under Baking and Pastry Arts. Like many students at BCC, she overcame a tremendous amount of adversity in her personal life on route to her successes in her educational life.
At home, Masse is mother to four children. One child has already battled, and survived, a bout with cancer. Another is autistic. She has also had her own share of medical scares, suffering a minor stroke while a student at BCC.
Choosing Culinary Arts was a decision many years in the making for Masse. When she was young, she often found herself going hungry, either having to eat things that were not healthy, or sometimes not eating at all. When she was old enough, she started walking herself to her local library and began to immerse herself in cookbooks. Masse found herself drawn to baking, mostly because her family already had many of the base requirements to make dishes, such as eggs and flour. Before she hit her teens, Masse was teaching herself simple baking recipes to keep her family from going hungry.
When her own children were old enough, and she found herself with some free time, she enrolled at BCC. A decision she says “was the perfect fit” for her busy schedule and hectic home life.
Despite roadblocks, Masse has been a model student. A Commonwealth Honors student, she has won a gold medal award for her skills in baking, and will represent BCC in the national SkillsUSA competition this June. Looking down the road, Masse would like to eventually work in her community, teaching young people about wellness and nutrition.
Ian Borim has worked hard to take advantage of the many resources BCC has to offer. Ian, 20, was born in Minnesota of Brazilian heritage. His time spent living in the United States and Brazil has widely influenced his world views and perspectives.
Like many students, Ian did not know exactly what he wanted to do when he began at Bristol, only that he wanted to be a more connected student than he had ever been. With experience gained his freshman year -- teaching in the BCC English as a Second Language lab -- he was able to earn a summer job teaching English in Italy.
“Learning at BCC is about what you bring to the table and how seriously you take yourself. You can always find a network of dedicated students anywhere,” said Borim.
It was seeking an ambitious network that caused Ian to excel on both the BCC soccer field as a team player, and in the classroom as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar. He became involved in a Co-Op program as writer for the New Bedford Travel Guide, and volunteered as student member of the BCC Multicultural Committee and the BCC student run newspaper, The Observer.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to be who I knew I was. From BCC you can go anywhere, “ said Borim.
At press time Ian has been accepted to the American University in Cairo, Egypt and is awaiting a response from Georgetown University in Washington, where he plans to study international relations.
Grace Lawson, 63, of Bridgewater, MA, has been on a very insightful journey. The mother of a disabled child, she worked hard to support her family. When the company she worked with closed, she took it as a sign to return to school and begin her own legacy of personal growth and achievements.
Grace had attended college many years ago, but was nervous about her new ambitions. Grace’s life of caring for her daughter had initially sparked her interest in the Human Services Field. It was her own experiences working with disability support groups helped focus her attention towards family support techniques.
Being an older student concerned with being accepted among her peers, Grace tried to remain invisible. But she was not successful at invisibility – she found she was widely accepted by her more traditionally aged peers. She credits the acceptance of her classmates as “setting the pace for her learning,” said Lawson.
Considered a “role model” by her professors, Grace is a shining example of never losing the desire to continue learning. “I am proud to have expanded my horizon and gained a new world view outside of my comfort level” said Lawson.
Grace graduates June 1 at BCC and plans to seek out a career specializing in Human Services. She looks forward to Commencement day and considers the entire experience once that she will surely miss.
Mariano Gomes & Craig Velozo
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Math and Science Program & General Studies/MassTransfer
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Recipients
It gives a college bragging rights to say one of its graduating students has earned the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. But what if two earn it in one year?
Bristol has these über bragging rights this year thanks to students Mariano Gomes and Craig Velozo. Both were named to this prestigious award, which offers a community college graduate up to $30,000 a year for three years to earn the baccalaureate at the college of their choice. This year 73 students all over the country received the competitive award. It is highly unusual for two from the same college to be named to this program.
Both students are Commonwealth Honors Scholars, and both are hoping to become doctors. At press time, both are also waiting to hear from a number of transfer institutions. Mariano is in the Liberal Arts and Sciences/Math and Science Program, and Craig is in General Studies/MassTransfer.
Mariano was born and raised in Guinea-Bissau and came to the U.S. to pursue his studies. He purchased a small cleaning business to support himself, and he often worked through the night and attended classes during the day. Mariano worked as a Supplemental Instructor for Introduction to Chemistry with Dr. Cynthia Hahn. He is a Student Senator and a Student Ambassador.
Craig is a decorated Iraqi veteran who served in the U.S. Army for nine years. While on active duty and deployed overseas he took college courses and the guardian for his brother. As his capstone project for the Commonwealth Honors Program he created the Commonwealth Honors Mentor Program, where students get advice on creating presentations, applying for competitive awards, and other skills needed for success. He is called an exemplary scholar with wide-ranging interests.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship makes it possible for the nation’s top community college students to complete their bachelor’s degrees by transferring to a four-year college or university. The award is intended to cover a substantial share of a student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and fees.
Bristol Community College has had two recipients in the past few years, but it is quite unusual to have two in one year.