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Gisele Duplessis

Clinical Director of YOU, Inc. Family Center | Southbridge

Gisele Duplessis was 30 and a single mother when she started at Quinsigamond Community College in 1990.

“I always wanted to go to college, but I wasn’t supported by my family,” she said. Her mother has a sixth-grade education and her father has a second-grade education and she said they were more focused on her getting a job. “It took energy and perseverance, and I found support at QCC.”

Ms. Duplessis explained she views herself as an immigrant although she is a naturalized citizen of the U.S. She grew up in Worcester, from age 3 to 15, but then returned to Canada and finished high school there. She returned to the area at 26.

“I came to QCC with a high school diploma from another country, and I was placed in classes to meet me where I was at the time,” Ms. Duplessis said. “I was a non-traditional student, the community support I received from QCC and their wonderful staff helped me break generational patterns, and provided me with the opportunity to help others on their way to a brighter future.”

She started at QCC for a mental health certification, but completed her associate’s degree in liberal arts, with a concentration in psychology. She was a member of the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and made the Dean’s List.

“At Quinsigamond, I was involved in the honor society and I was a peer leader, it was a fantastic experience. I always tell everyone out the three colleges I attended, Quinsig is my favorite,” she said.

After QCC, she attended Worcester State for her bachelor’s in psychology and Springfield College for her master’s in social work. She is a licensed social worker and the Clinical Director of YOU, Inc. in Southbridge, a family center that provides mental health services for youth and families.

Youth Opportunities Upheld, now known as YOU, Inc., offers services for youth and families. It was initially started more than 40 years ago, soon after Worcester Juvenile Court was created, to offer intensive juvenile probation. Today, it is one of the leading child welfare, behavioral health and education agencies in Massachusetts. It offers specialized services at 32 sites in Worcester County, with an array of educational, vocational, therapeutic and residential programs for more than 13,000 young people and their families each year.

Ms. Duplessis mentors, supervises and trains interns and staff at YOU, Inc. and encourages a connection with QCC through GED programs offered to clients.

“Through my position I am able to help reach people who need it the most, people with the least resources and the most barriers,” she said. “I come from extreme poverty and it took energy and perseverance to get where I am today.”

“Quinsigamond works hard to support students who might not be ready for a four-year college,” she said. “Financially it makes sense, and it offers a quality education. QCC is a great place to start.”