Three BCC classes graduate in joint launch /

Berkshire Community College graduates received their degrees from President Ellen Kennedy on the Tanglewood stage.

Valedictors Denise Foss, left, and Ethan Trautman wait to give their addresses representing the classes of 2020 and 2022. See more photos here.

LENOX, Mass. — The classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 at Berkshire Community College moved their tassels to the left side of their graduation caps at Tanglewood on Friday.

The long-awaited in-person event came after two years of virtual debuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was the first graduation ceremony to return to Tanglewood after three years.

President Ellen Kennedy spoke about the circumstances that led to the joint ceremony and highlighted the resilience of the classes.

“These years have been complex and you have faced this complexity with determination and determination, you have lost opportunities, loved ones, time and jobs, but you have found ways to learn, to grow, to identify new ways of thinking, of persisting, of loving and loving,” she told graduates during a moderate 75-degree afternoon under the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

“You surprised yourselves with your willingness to accept challenges and grow from them, to adapt to Zoom, masking and social distancing, some of you were on campus learning when very few others were, you supported yourself and refused to give up, you found ways to meet the needs of your family, friends, work and commitments, and also to to be successful students and now graduates.”

The college awarded 186 associate degrees and 92 certificates to 246 students. Graduates came from 41 study programs, 24 of which received more than one diploma or certificate.

Kennedy added that the students have held on “in a world that sometimes seems to fall apart as we struggle to make sense of senseless death and destruction.”

Class of 2022 valedictorian Ethan Trautman is the youngest in college history and began his BCC journey at age 15 as a dual-enrollment student at his high school.

Trautman wanted attendees of the joint launch to remember how remarkable the institution’s graduates are.

“The traditional path to college instilled in every kid of my generation is that at 18, college is for those who have tested well in school and have the financial resources to pay, that leaves the rest of between us, those who are told that we cannot strive to earn a university degree without going into debt for a lifetime,” he explained.

“Because of this, so many brilliant young men and women have failed to take the chance to succeed in an academic environment, I’m proud that every person in a robe today has taken their education into their own hands.”

Almost all of the accolades Trautman has recently received for his accomplishments have left him bittersweet, he said, as they were how amazing it is to have come this far despite the impact of COVID-19. .

The young valedictorian has seen his classmates overcome a multitude of other obstacles.

“The reality, however, is that my fellow graduates have already faced so many challenges in their lives,” he explained.

“From my perspective, this proves that a pandemic could not stop the courage of our college community, I have met single mothers, people recovering from drug addiction, and many who are struggling financially at during my years on this campus, however, every one of these people I have met has worked tirelessly to get that college degree or certificate, it’s never too late to try.”

2020 Major Denise Foss never imagined she would make it to this day. She started her journey for a college degree at the age of 52 and while filling out the application for admission, she thought to herself “Denise, you have literally lost your mind”.

This was far from the case, as she went on to excel as one of the first graduates of BCC’s early childhood education cohort.

“Fortunately for me, BCC welcomes both traditional and non-traditional students with open arms,” ​​Foss explained.

“My academic journey through BCC has been both rewarding and challenging. Committing to graduating from college was the first step, but convincing myself that I could do it was the next.”

She added that her college experience allowed her to move forward in life, gain confidence and acquire a taste for learning.

Foss was invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference on education in Africa in 2019 and continues her studies at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts studying interdisciplinary studies with a focus on children, families and society.

She thanked her mother and father for their support and asked her mother to stand up to be recognized. Her father could not be at the event but was there in spirit.

During the ceremony, Thomas Carey, Professor of Allied Health, Respiratory Care, was recognized as Emeritus Professor of Allied Health, marking his retirement. He has served BCC students for nearly 39 years.

“Tom’s long teaching career makes it easy to forget that as well as representing ‘old school’ in the best sense of the word, Tom was a committed advocate for innovation,” said Kennedy,

“For example, Tom was able to secure an Anatomage table, an interactive, life-size virtual dissection workbench, for the BCC Anatomy and Physiology Lab, allowing anatomy to be taught in completely new ways.”

The “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by Joseph Sicotte and the procession was performed by the Berkshire Highlanders. For the recession, the Gaia Roots Drum and Dance Ensemble joined in and graduates and family members poured out onto the Shed lawn for photos and refreshments.

Key words: BCC, diploma 2022,

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