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Student’s Uplifting Story Starts the Year off Right

September, 2019
  • President of QCC, Dr. Luis Pedraja discusses initiatives to increase student success at All College Day.
    President of QCC, Dr. Luis Pedraja discusses initiatives to increase student success at All College Day.

September 3 shone bright with promise for the start of the fall 2019 semester as QCC faculty and staff kicked-off All College Day. The day began with an inspirational message from psychology student Alba Frias who detailed her journey to QCC, beginning as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.

“I came from the Dominican Republic in 2014, lived in Lawrence then moved to Worcester because I needed to be around people and professors who would speak English to me, not Spanish,” she said.

Ms. Frias said she chose QCC for a variety of reasons, all of which made an indelible impression on her life.

“When I arrived at QCC the very first day I spoke with an advisor who made me feel more than a number. I also found a person who believed in me when I was not able to believe in myself,” she said. “I have been around professors who have helped me so that I can be in front of you today.”

She described her fears of beginning college and acknowledged that many of her fears were the same as that of other students  -  “will I pass or fail, will I be able to get good grades or will my classmates understand what I am saying because of my accent.”

“All my fears went away with time,” she said.

Mr. Frias is working hard to achieve her dream of earning an associate degree in psychology, and challenged faculty and staff to help her attain her goal.

“I will not ask you to save my life or help me get famous or rich. I will only ask you to help me become the best version of myself,” she said, adding, “Never forget that in your hands you have the future doctors, professors, politicians…the future. Help me prepare for the future because that is my goal.”

 Coordinator of Future Focus Program, Gilmarie Vongphakdy, reminded faculty and staff that Ms. Frias was the featured speaker at All College Day to remind faculty and staff that her story is the story of many QCC students.

“It’s about their pathways and how they came here to ‘Quinsig.’ For Alba, despite all the reasons for her to not add another thing to her plate, for her college is the gateway to greater things,” Ms. Vongphakdy said. “As we enter this new school year, I ask you to take a moment and remember that every single interaction matters. These are our students and that’s why we’re here.”

In addition to Ms. Frias, campus initiatives that have already taken place and that are being developed were discussed, as well as the Department of Higher Education’s equity agenda.

Additionally, each year a special award is given out to QCC faculty, staff and administration by the Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance. These award winners are nominated by their peers, supervisors and professional colleagues. This year’s winners included:

  • Sharon Marini - Administrative Secretary I
  • Michelle Sheehan -  Clerk IV/Educational Partnerships & Early College Initiatives
  • Laurie Teece - Evening/Weekend Nurse Education Laboratory Coordinator
  • Michelle Tufau Afriyie - Interim Assistant Vice President of Student Success/Title III Coordinator

National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development awards were also handed out to QCC faculty, staff and administration who demonstrated teaching excellence, exemplary leadership in teaching and have made a significant contribution to support teaching and learning. These awards have been a part of QCC’s All College Days since 2006. This year’s 2018/2019 award winners included:

  • Lisa Antonelli
  • Joseph Babu
  • Bonnie Coleman
  • Jessica Crowley
  • Maureen Giacobbe
  • Dr. Deborah Gonzalez
  • Russell Gwilliam
  • Brenda Kuchnicki
  • Patricia LaFountaine,
  • Roger Meservey
  • Dr. Lillian Ortiz
  • Karen Plant
  • Patrick Printz
  • Kristin Proctor
  • Benjamin Wendorf
  • Nichole Wheeler
  • Joseph Whitney

"Every little thing you do as a member of the QCC family makes a difference to students' lives. All of you have a role in education and all of you are shaping and transforming lives," President Dr. Luis Pedraja said. Go for it and have a good year."