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Chad McFarlane ’14 is giving back to the college by getting involved C O M M U N I T Y




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CCRI celebrates Class of 2016 graduation


Alumni Association Golf Tournament The Community College of Rhode Island Alumni Association held its 14th Annual Golf Tournament on June 15 at Crystal Lake Golf Club in Mapleville, Rhode Island. The proceeds benefit students through tuition assistance and provide money to purchase textbooks and supplies. The money raised brings the Alumni Book Award fund balance to $37,204 and the Alumni Special Circumstances Award to $48,132. Each year, approximately 45 book awards are given to students and 20 students have benefited from the Special Circumstances fund in the past three years. More than 75 golfers participated. The event included a breakfast, shotgun tee off, lunch, raffle and prizes.


A message from the President

contents Vol. 16, Number 2 • Summer 2016 1 Leading off 2 Notebook 4 Commencement 8 Brandon Langdon ’16 10 Reflections from the Class of 2016 12 Chad McFarlane ’14

My first commencement as your new college president was truly a thrilling experience. The members of the Class of 2016 are impressive, inspiring and they make our college proud. In May, the college awarded 1,918 degrees and certificates and I am delighted to welcome all of our new graduates to the CCRI alumni network. We recently launched our CCRI Mentoring Initiative, and I need you, our alumni, to “lift as you climb” – to mentor and support our next generation of students. A small investment of your time will make a world of difference. To get involved and learn more about the initiative, please visit It has been a busy and exciting few months since I joined the college. In this issue, read about CCRI’s 51st commencement exercises, hear from some of our inspiring graduates, meet Izabel DeAraujo-Rivera, our new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement and College Relations, and find out about upcoming events where we will hope to see you! Congratulations again, Class of 2016. I couldn’t be more proud of you! Your hard work, resilience, grit and strength will serve you well in the future. To all of our alumni, please continue to stay engaged and involved as we work together to move the Community College of Rhode Island forward. Check our website often to find out what is happening at the college.

12 Paul Gagnon Sr. ’66 and Katelyn Gagnon ’16 14 Class notes and in memoriam 16


17 Trip to Portugal

Green & White staff Editor in Chief : Marisa Albini,   Director of Alumni Affairs Managing Editor: Erin Olson Layout: Brendalee Peckham-Bell Photographer: Dave Fischbach Contributors: Robin McDuff ’98 Iain Wilson

Dr. Meghan Hughes President

A message from the President of the Alumni Association Welcome, members of the Class of 2016, to the Alumni Association and to your first issue of the CCRI alumni magazine. We were proud to watch you graduate in May and are excited to have you join our alumni community. I hope you enjoy this issue, which is one of many avenues for alumni to stay connected – and involved – with CCRI. I am also pleased to welcome Izabel DeAraujo-Rivera as CCRI’s new associate vice president in the Office of Institutional Advancement. Her experience and skills will be a great asset to the team and I am excited to work with her to continue to improve the association to meet the needs of our alumni. The My Alumni & Friends online community makes it easy to stay in touch. The site can be found on the For Alumni and Friends web page and allows users to register for events, update their contact information and even

donate securely to the college. Learn more about the features and benefits available to Alumni at We are always looking for new ways to engage our alumni community, and are excited to announce the formation of the CCRI Alumni Diversity Group. This group was created to serve and engage diverse alumni, and plans to provide outreach, mentoring and network opportunities and offer students speakers and presentations. Find out more about this group on Page 3. To Izabel and our newest alumni: Welcome. We are glad to have you as part of our alumni community.

Joseph T. Fleming ’74 President, CCRI Alumni Association


CCRI welcomes DeAraujo-Rivera

Izabel DeAraujo-Rivera knows educational philanthropy can change someone’s life. This is because DeAraujo-Rivera, CCRI’s new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement and College Relations, has seen its power firsthand. She was a student at Northeastern University in Boston, where the academic program is built on a cooperative education that generally includes paid work experience. For certain majors like political science, co-ops were difficult because many government internships were unpaid. Her parents had saved for years and given all they had to pay for her education, but she still wasn’t in a position to take an unpaid internship in her field. Then, a single donor sponsored a threemonth paid internship with the late U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy in Washington, D.C. “It was life-changing,” said DeAraujoRivera, a Rhode Island native and graduate of Providence public schools. “I began to understand then how one person can change a life.”

This experience has shaped her professional philosophy and has served as the foundation for her successful career in higher education, which led her to CCRI in June. She arrived at CCRI from Simmons College in Boston, where she served as a key strategic member of the school’s senior leadership team for advancement. As assistant vice president of Advancement Operations, she led direct marketing and operations for the college’s fundraising division. She also served as a mentor to students and staff and participated in a letter-writing program to enhance literacy and writing skills of students at James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She sees similar opportunities – for her and others – to positively influence students in her home state. “There is an abundance of talent in Rhode Island, and CCRI gives students the perfect opportunity to harness that talent,” she said. “A lot of why I wanted to come here is related to the opportunity that CCRI brings people,” she said. “If these students don’t have an opportunity to change the world, then the world won’t change.” DeAraujo-Rivera received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Northeastern University and Master of Science in library and information science from Simmons College. She lives in Providence with her husband, Melvin, and their dog, Jasper. She hopes to continue to build on the existing momentum at CCRI, where 159 students received awards and scholarships totaling $129,000 in 2015. “I look forward to working closely with the school’s leadership team,” she said. “I find President [Meghan] Hughes very inspirational. Her passion and drive and deep conscientiousness around students here is amazing. I want to be near that. I want to be part of that legacy.”

10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 Flanagan Campus in Lincoln


REGISTER ONLINE –$  22 or $12 for CCRI students (with valid student ID) –$  7 for the kids’ 1K fun run After Aug. 31, prices increase to $25 or $15 for CCRI students and $10 for the kids’ 1K fun run. Money raised through the event will fund student book scholarships at the college.

To learn more and to register, visit 2





Where would you be today without a little help yesterday? CCRI’s students have enormous tenacity, determination and potential. What they need is supportive guidance and experience to successfully navigate college and enter the working world. A small investment of your time in the new CCRI Mentoring Initiative will make a massive impact on our students’ lives. To learn more and to join the initative, visit






The Alumni Association recently created the Community College of Rhode Island Alumni Diversity Group as a resource for engaging and serving the college’s multicultural graduate community. “The mission of the initiative is to provide service, support and outreach,” said Marisa Albini, director of Alumni Affairs and Alumni Development. The group met for the first time in May and will provide mentoring and networking opportunities, including speaking engagements to graduates and students of the college. “The student body of CCRI has a close to 40 percent minority makeup and we thought it would be great to have an affinity group here to speak to that,” said Chad McFarlane ’14, chairman of the group. “This is a way to engage our diverse alumni population.” In its first month, the group has been working to identify its mission and answer the questions: “What value do we add for alumni and what are some ways we can engage them?” McFarlane said. The group’s early plans include hosting an event with CCRI President Meghan Hughes in September. For more information or to join, contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at 401-333-7150 or

CCRI Mentoring Initiative


New group will engage the diverse CCRI alumni community



The CCRI Foundation hosted its annual retirees picnic on June 7 at the Knight Campus in Warwick. The event honored all past retirees, welcomed new retirees and recognized faculty emeritus status. More than 55 attendees came together to catch up, meet new people, enjoy a meal and participate in a raffle.





Read more about why Chad is giving back to CCRI on Page 11.

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Members of the Class of 2016 exhibit grit, resilience, strength







s they walked up the ramp at the Knight Campus on May 20, twins Kaisha and Erika Girard of Cumberland held their beautifully decorated caps and honors cords as their mother proudly snapped photographs. The sisters, who both majored in General Studies, will begin an internship program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in August. Their path forward will be shaped by their amazing experiences at CCRI, the sisters said. “It was the right fit for me,” Kaisha said. “I had incredible professors who really made my time special and challenged me.” Erika said the sisters loved CCRI. “We were able to thrive here. We had all our classes together and it was like having a built-in study partner.” The Girard sisters received two of the 1,918 degrees and certificates awarded in May during the Community College of Rhode Island’s 51st commencement ceremony. Gov. Gina Raimondo, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline and many other state and city leaders attended the event, held inside the Vincent A. Cullen Field House. The commencement marked the first for CCRI President Meghan Hughes, who told the diverse group of graduates that they were the school’s “greatest asset.” “Every day I see your display of resilience, grit and strength of purpose. You impress and inspire everyone who works for this college,” Hughes said. “You have pushed through to a degree while working a job – sometimes two or three – some of you while raising children – sometimes two or three. And the skills that you developed from having to learn how to be a student, a worker and a parent – all at the same time – will serve you incredibly well as you move forward into the workforce or to a fouryear college or university.” Student commencement speaker Brandon Langdon, 26, talked about his own path to CCRI, where he enrolled after six years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard. He arrived after overcoming his own obstacles, including a harrowing ambush by drug runners off the California coast. His supervisor died in his arms as a result of the attack, and the event left Langdon hospitalized with post-traumatic stress disorder. He eventually enrolled at the Newport County Campus and started taking a variety of classes, feeling out his interests. He also landed

the perfect work-study job: He led the Newport Student Veterans Organization since September 2014. At CCRI, Langdon discovered his passion for writing and plans to pursue a four-year degree and career in the writing field. “Some of our greatest achievements happen when we overcome our worst failures. I know each and every single one of you have had some form of adversity to overcome but it’s your perseverance, mental toughness and sheer willpower that has brought you to this moment in life,” Langdon said. These stories of determination, mental strength and persistence were easy to find in the Class of 2016, in students like Melody Vasquez of Providence, who graduated with a degree in General Studies and plans to attend

Read more about student commencement speaker Brandon Langdon ’16 on Page 8.

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“I love everything about [CCRI]; the diversity, the people, the community feeling. This is the best program around. I highly recommend it.”

— REBECCA REPOZA ’16 Rhode Island College. She dreams of someday opening a bed-and-breakfast. “Nothing ever goes as I expect it,” she said, “but I always get there somehow.” In addition to her studies at CCRI, Vasquez worked from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. as a supervisor at the Omni Hotel in Providence. She used to sneak in a quick nap before returning to CCRI for afternoon classes. “CCRI was a great experience,” she said. “I had great teachers and I’m going to keep in touch with so many of them. They realize that you are here because you really want this.” Rebecca Repoza of East Providence came to CCRI after 29 years in early childhood education. Repoza, 49, received her associate degree in Human Services and plans to continue her education at the University of Rhode Island. The director of the Little Red Schoolhouse child care center in Riverside began taking classes part time in 1998. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, she took two years off for a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and





reconstruction before returning to earn her “very, very meaningful” degree. “I never thought this day would come,” said Repoza whose cap paid tribute to those who motivated her: her best friend and former boss who died from breast cancer; her daughters; her parents; and her son, whom she lost as a baby. Repoza took most of her classes at the Liston Campus in Providence. “I love everything about it; the diversity, the people, the community feeling. This is the best program around,” she said. “I highly recommend it.” The message on Joseph Carbone’s cap read “It’s never too late” as he prepared to receive his associate degree in General Studies nearly 20 years after he began. The owner of Carbone’s Cleaning in North Providence, he said he was inspired by his wife’s grandfather, who earned his degree as a senior citizen. Carbone plans to attend Rhode Island College for a degree in social work, and hopes to work with others like himself recovering from addiction. “I’ve been in their shoes,” he said. Julie Gottschalk said she would be excited when the ceremony was over. “No more papers, no more exams,” said the North Providence resident, who wore a tag on her sneakers that said “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” She added, “I believed I would graduate and I did.” Gottschalk gave birth to twins while living on Long Island and working for Verizon more than eight years ago. One did not live past five weeks; the other remained in neonatal intensive care for 10 weeks. “The nurses kept telling me I would be a fabulous nurse. I missed the nursing program, but there was an opening in respiratory therapy, so I enrolled. My daughter, who is almost 8, says, ‘My mom is going to save babies like me.’ There were a lot of lumps and bumps along the way, but my daughter kept me focused. I got laid off from my job at Verizon, and I believe my daughter meant to show me that this is my path.” Gottschalk juggled raising her daughter while working full time, studying and completing her clinical rotations. “I believed I would graduate and I did. I even got high honors.” Marcie Louton, 54, of North Scituate also was graduating with high honors in the Respiratory Therapy program, but her path was a bit different. A graduate of Michigan


State University with a degree in anthropology, she had always worked in the health care field. When her boss retired and she and her husband, a Bryant University professor, faced an empty nest, Louton decided to return to school for a new career. “This was a great experience. I graduated from a Big Ten school, spent a semester at Bryant and found an equivalent education here. The standards are very high and I was very impressed.” Before long, it was time for the graduates to file out of the classrooms and line up for the procession. Before she walked off, Adrienne M. Benton of Providence was excited and proud to earn her nursing degree with honors after 12 years. She worked in a nursing home and raised four children while attending school. “I don’t know how, but I’m here. I did it through the grace of God. I’m proof that you can do it.” The stories of hard work and perseverance were many, and the tenacity central to these stories will serve graduates well. “Be proud of what you have achieved here and know that you have positioned yourself to

be incredibly successful. CCRI is a place of talent. You are inventive, creative and excellent at solving problems like how to work for eight hours and then attend class, go home and study and take care of family obligations and then get up and do it all over again,” Hughes said. “This tenacity is an asset, and it’s one your next college or employer will be incredibly fortunate to have. Your life stories are your greatest strength. Your life stories, and those of your families, are your most powerful and enduring assets. They are what have empowered you to be so successful, to be here tonight graduating.”

For more coverage of commencement 2016, visit

Superlatives On the night before commencment, Alumni Association President Joseph Fleming ’74 oversaw the presentation of superlative-type awards to graduates who attended commencement rehearsal: •G  eorge Plante, 70, of Pawtucket, who received his associate degree in Law Enforcement, and Rhina Alonzo, 65, of Pawtucket, who received her certificate in Early Childhood Education, were the oldest graduates in attendance. •P  lante also won the award for having the most children – six.

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After harrowing near-death experience, veteran finds new direction, passions at CCRI I

t has been a long search and a winding road to self-discovery for Community College of Rhode Island Class of 2016 student commencement speaker Brandon Langdon, 26, of Newport, both in the metaphorical and literal sense. His taste for adventure and zest for life – not to mention his nearly seven years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard – have taken him far. But close to home, at the CCRI Newport County Campus, is where he finally started to see his future take shape. “I was kind of a punk in high school. I was rebellious, outspoken, hotheaded,” he said. “I got kicked off the football team, I got suspended, I got arrested. You name it, it happened.” Following his high school graduation, in a moment of self-introspection, he realized he might benefit from the discipline of the armed services. So, at age 18, he went from cutting class to crew cuts and from aimless cruising around town to a highly regimented existence.





“It gave me a sense of purpose,” he said. “And besides giving me discipline, it taught me responsibility, how to hold myself accountable and do the best job I could. Besides the obvious stuff? It taught me who I was, essentially. What I’m good at and what I’m not good at.” It turned out he was good at adapting to the military life. He started as a deckhand and worked his way up to food service specialist, excelling in cooking school and running kitchens. He also went above and beyond, getting his law enforcement qualifications. “In the Coast Guard, there’s only so many people; you have to wear multiple hats,” he explained. And then, there was the travel. He said he caught the travel bug after his first tour in Hawaii, and to this day relishes the experience of being in new places. But it was in a familiar place, just off the coast of California near Santa Cruz Island, where Langdon’s life took a turn so sharp that the whiplash is reverberating all these years later. He and a small crew on a Coast Guard cutter, Halibut, were patrolling the waters for the eighth day in a row, and the team was getting tired. At around 2 a.m., the crew spotted a suspicious vessel entering the area; Langdon said they had received intelligence about suspicious activity in the area, so the crew was on alert. Following protocol, Langdon, the boat’s Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III and a few other crew members boarded their small craft and flashed warning lights at the men. “Instead of running away, they ambushed us,” he said. “They rammed our boat, and I was pinned underneath their boat. My buddy was firing his pistol off. It was utter chaos.” They were thrown into the water. Luckily, the CO2 cartridge in Langdon’s life vest was activated and he was able to stay afloat, even as the men doubled back and ran him over with their boat, the wake pulling him down in the roiling waters. When the suspects made a run for the horizon, Langdon and his crew pulled Horne, who had also been knocked from the boat, back to the Halibut.


“I learned that my work ethic, no matter what the job may be, is good. Whatever I set my mind to do, I do it. CCRI has expanded my mind.”

“I was holding his head and his neck during the whole ordeal,” he said. “But he got hit in the head. There wasn’t much we could do for him, but we didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that he was going to die. We kept doing what we had to do, administering first aid and CPR.” When the crew made it back to the pier, Horne was pronounced dead. “I was in shock for five months,” said Langdon. “I didn’t cry at all. The crew had already mourned his loss, but I was so intimately involved in the situation – I went into the water – I think it took a heavy toll on me. I was numb to the whole thing.” When the shock wore off, Langdon fell apart. He was hospitalized, diagnosed with PTSD and medically discharged. After a year of limbo working in kitchens on base, he was back home in Newport. But he might as well have been lost at sea. “I don’t know how I got through it,” he said, adding that his crewmates, family and a girlfriend at the time were supportive, helping him stay busy. “I tried to distract my mind with other things.” One of those other things was the search for the next adventure. He thought he might want to be a chef; he had enjoyed cooking in the Coast Guard. “I hated it,” he said of his attempts working at a restaurant in Newport. “It shocked me. I thought it was what I wanted to do. So I quit, and I was back at a crossroads again.”


After relaxing for a summer and reconnectit will be full of creativity and verve, much like ing with hometown friends, he decided that, Langdon himself. He’s taking some time off having almost died serving his country, he might to bartend in local restaurants while he plots as well take the educational benefits that he had his next move – hopefully to an artistically so rightly earned. He enrolled at the Newport inclined college, such as Emerson College in campus and started taking a variety of classes, Boston, for his bachelor’s degree. No matter feeling out his interests. He also landed the what comes next, though, he has no doubts perfect work-study job: He has been the head about it: He is up for the challenge. of the Newport Student Veterans Organization “I always thought that I was a bright kid. since September 2014. But in high school, I wasn’t the best student. “I haven’t taken a semester off, and I’ve Coming here made me realize that I transitioned gone straight through,” he said. my military skills well to the classroom – being During that time, he said, he honed his pasdisciplined and organized,” he said. “But also, sions and found his purpose. “I finally realized I learned that my work ethic, no matter what the that I want to pursue writing, and translate that job may be, is good. Whatever I set my mind to skill into the performing arts – acting, comedy do, I do it. CCRI has expanded my mind.” and music, stuff like that.” He realized that much of the lack of direction he had experienced was because he was trying so hard to make himself fit a traditional mold when, really, the mold was broken when he came along. A restless traveler and a poet with a natural knack for writing and telling stories, he said his time at CCRI taught him that there were paths to explore beyond the traditional confines of jobs at desks – or on decks. “I finally realized that I’m an artist, and this is what I want to do,” he said. “I’m not meant to sit at a desk all day long. I’m meant to create things.” He said he is not sure where his next Members of the Class of 2016: Pawan Pandey, Thao Dang and Brandon grand adventure will take him – only that Langdon. Read their stories online at

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COMMENCEMENT 2016 “[As a Running Start student] I liked CCRI – it had been a great atmosphere for growing, and so I decided to continue there.”

“Not only did CCRI provide me with a strong foundation in business, CCRI gave me hope. I now believe that with dedication, anything can be possible.”



In their own words: Reflections from the Class of 2016

“As long as you want to do something, you can do it.” — KIMBERLY MATIAS

“If you lose your passions, you’ll be miserable. — LAURA FERRICK

Read more about each of these graduates and their stories online at Visit YouTube to view a video featuring members of the Class of 2016.

“I love the process of learning. CCRI has helped me be the person who I’m meant to be.”

“Everyone is so friendly. It’s the friendly atmosphere that has made my time here most enjoyable.”



“My story is not a story of struggle. My story is a story of love and hope. Once you start doing the big thing, you might face challenges. But there will always be people who will help you at CCRI.” — PAWAN KUMAR PANDEY

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Vet, CCRI alumnus gives back to help others ‘maximize potential’


had McFarlane ’14 has a couple of questions for alumni who are thinking about getting involved at CCRI. “What did you gain from going to CCRI? Were you coming back to further your education, was this your first go around or were you a lost cause who CCRI took in?” he asked. “Think about where that projected you forward.” It is a series of questions McFarlane has often asked himself, and ones that have inspired him to remain active at CCRI since he graduated with an associate degree in General Studies in 2014. “For me, my whole life changed completely by coming here and getting involved,” he said. “Being involved – not just going to class, but being involved in the college – propelled me to things I never would have dreamed.” The Providence resident is now on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied economics from the University of Rhode Island in May 2017. This is a path he never could have pictured during two Army tours in Iraq and a stint of homelessness that preceded his time at CCRI. “I always say it, but I say it because I mean it. This place is like home,” he said. “This is where I got my start.” He enrolled and began to thrive at CCRI, where he served as president of the college’s Student Veterans Organization. Under his leadership, it was selected from 1,074 chapters across the country as Chapter of the Month in August 2014.

In 2013, he was selected to sing the national anthem at AmeriCorps Opening Day in Rhode Island and was named CCRI’s 2014 student commencement speaker. Even then, he didn’t envision an active role after graduation. But he was still a familiar face on campus, popping in to chat with students, veterans, faculty and staff. It wasn’t until this spring that he formalized his involvement. He is now an Alumni Association Board member and was named chairman of the recently formed CCRI Alumni Diversity Group. “In May they asked if I was interested in being involved in a new alumni diversity group, and once I came in with these ideas they asked if I would be interested in chairing it,” he said. The diversity group has had a busy month, mapping out its mission and looking at ways to engage the student body and alumni. “For me, with all that the college has given me, why wouldn’t I want to come back and give back?” he said. “Why wouldn’t I want to come back and try to help provide that opportunity for someone else?” There are many ways to stay involved, from mentoring students to a role in the Alumni Association or financial support. There are so many more reasons to stay involved, McFarlane said. “CCRI is the start for so many folks in this state. I want to see people maximize their potential,” he said. “Being involved is the way I can help do that.”

“For me, with all that the college has given me, why wouldn’t I want to come back and give back?”


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Grandfather, granddaughter reflect on attending CCRI decades apart

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t first glance, the Community College of Rhode Island experiences of Paul Gagnon Sr. and Katelyn Gagnon look pretty similar. Both took a roundabout path to the school, balanced their academic courses with work schedules and credit their time at CCRI as a major stepping stone in their educational and professional path. There is one major difference: The two attended the school 50 years apart. “I was sitting at graduation this year and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t believe the school has blossomed the way it has,’” said 89-year-old Paul Gagnon. He graduated from what was then Rhode Island Junior College in 1966. He attended this year’s graduation to watch his 20-year-old granddaughter receive her associate degree in General Studies. Katelyn Gagnon knew her grandfather’s stories well before she graduated from Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket in 2014. “He talks about it all the time – how he went to work at night and took classes during the day,” said Katelyn, who lives in Scituate. She remembered those stories in 2014, when she was questioning her plans to go to college in New Jersey. At the last minute she decided to stay and enroll at CCRI, an idea that her parents supported. She decided to study Business Administration and, after two years of full-time study, graduated in May. She plans to enroll at New England Institute of Technology to study nursing with the goal of having a career in the mental health field. She credits CCRI with giving her the foundation for her nursing studies. “CCRI definitely helped me with my time management,” she said, noting that her successes at CCRI also instilled in her the confidence to succeed. To this she credits professors like Joanne Orabone, who taught courses she took in financial and managerial accounting. “She is honestly the best teacher I ever had,” she said. “She is just so good.” She took courses at Knight Campus in Warwick and Flanagan Campus in Lincoln, and relied on CCRI’s scheduling flexibility to balance work and school. “When I first started I did day classes and night work, and the second year I did day work and night classes,” she said. The key to making it all work? “I always made sure I had Fridays off,” she said with a smile. Hearing Katelyn’s stories remind Paul Gagnon of his time at his alma mater. He took a winding path to RIJC. He dropped out of Mount St. Charles Academy in the early 1940s to enroll in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in the Philippines for two years during World War II before returning to northern Rhode Island. “I came back and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have an education,” he said. Jobs were hard to find so, at the urging of friends,

Katelyn Gagnon is pictured with her grandparents, Judy and Paul Gagnon Sr.

Paul completed his GED® credential and enrolled at RIJC, which then was still in its infancy. “After a couple of courses I thought, ‘My God, I could get something out of this,’” he said. It wasn’t easy, though. Paul was 37 years old and married with four children when he decided to enroll at the school. He would take classes all day, head home for dinner and report to work at a local machine shop from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. “I had to work real hard to make it work. It was tough, but I made out all right,” he said. “I couldn’t just go to college. I needed some flexibility because I had four kids and a marriage. That’s why [RIJC] worked for me.” He received his associate degree in General Studies and enrolled at Providence College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education and American history. After teaching at a parochial school for five years he landed a job teaching at Saylesville Elementary School in Lincoln, where he taught full time for 27 years before retiring at 67 in 1994. He then worked several days a week as a substitute until he was 80 years old. “I enjoyed teaching the whole time I did it. I couldn’t have done it better,” he said. In May, Gagnon returned to Knight Campus for the first time in a decade to attend his granddaughter’s graduation. Three things struck him as he sat in the first row during commencement ceremonies. The first was how much CCRI has grown since the 1960s, when the tiny junior college graduated several hundred students on the State House lawn in Providence. The second thing he noticed were the stories he heard from graduates. “I heard a lot of similar stories – more than I realized – about people who are taking classes, working and holding down a family,” he said. The third, and perhaps most important, was the realization that his granddaughter now had her own story. “She did great,” he said. “She has the associate degree and if she wants to continue her education, she can. There is always room for more.”

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1970s 1970 – Francis J. O’Brien Jr., Ph.D., retired in March from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center after 34 years of federal service as a mathematician and program manager. His daughter, Lily Rae, is a student majoring in General Studies at the Newport County Campus.

1987 – Inez Mello, graduate multistate tax professor at Bryant Univesity, recently received the 2016 Graduate School of Business Award for Outstanding MST Faculty. She is chairwoman of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs’ state taxation committee and received the 2007 Rhode Island Women in Business Champion Award from the Small Business Administration.


1980s 1980 – Jay McDonald retired from his 28-year military career serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Army and Air National Guard on Jan. 1. McDonald also has been working at Verizon Communications for 31 years. His daughter, Kristi, graduated from CCRI in May and his son, Joe, starts at the college this fall. 1982 – Joyce (Lichtenberger) Bulger reports that she worked at Eleanor Slater Hospital for 27 years and, previously, at Waterman Heights for 17 years following her graduation from the Licensed Practical Nurse program. 1982 – Providence City Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris has been named a 2016 YWCA Rhode Island Women of Achievement honoree. Since 2005, YWCA has sponsored the statewide recognition of women whose accomplishments span the fields of industry, culture and public service. YWCA Rhode Island will honor her and 12 other awardees at its 12th annual awards luncheon in September. 1984 – Rep. Jean Philippe Barros will seek a second term in House District 59. He previously served six years on the Pawtucket City Council.

1994 – Charlestown police Sgt. Kevin Kidd provided the commencement speech for Roger Williams University’s Justice System Training and Research Institute Command Training Series: First Line Supervisor course. A group of 31 graduates selected him as speaker. 1994 – U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Gary Noel has returned from being deployed overseas at a forward operating base serving Operation Enduring Freedom. Noel was the noncommissioned officer in charge of an eight-member rock group assigned to U.S. Air Forces Central Command that performed 43 concerts in Qatar, Kuwait and other locations. He is a regional band superintendent based out of Air Force Band of the Pacific – Hawaii, Joint BasePearl Harbor in Hickam, Hawaii. 1995 – Millbury Savings Bank has elected Helder Machado to a 10-year term on its board of corporators. He is president and chief executive officer of Machado Consulting, an information technology consulting practice in Worcester, Massachusetts. Machado is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, a 28-year combat veteran and has served in Iraq with the highly decorated Third Infantry Division. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 1996 – Sandra M. Cullen has been named president of the board of directors of LeadingAge Rhode Island. She is the regional manager of operations for United Methodist Elder Care, which she joined in 1994. Cullen is a licensed assisted-living

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administrator and a certified occupancy specialist through the New England National Affordable Housing Management Association.

2000s 2005 – Kevin Hazebrouck has been promoted to retail banking officer at Bank Rhode Island. He joined the bank in 2012 and his work focuses in communities across central and northern Rhode Island. He previously served as assistant branch manager at the bank’s East Providence and Woonsocket offices. 2008 – Raymond J. Defalco has been hired as assistant director of the Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department.

2010s 2015 – Rodger Lincoln and Liane Barnett were married on March 19 at New Hope Christian Church in Swansea, Massachusetts. _______

What’s new in your life? Send information to: CCRI Office of Alumni Affairs 1762 Louisquisset Pike Lincoln, RI 02865 Email:


The Green & White Alumni Magazine publishes “In memoriam” in honor of college alumni. Stephen R. Boisclair ’10 Karen M. Brunelli ’86 Marian A. DeRestie ’79 Michael D. Downey ’80 Kenneth R. Grenier ’02 Heather M. Hathaway ’03 John Anthony   “Jack” Napolitano ’71 Richard I. Santos ’73 Edward J. Woodcock ’12

John Anthony “Jack” Napolitano ’71 Alumnus John Anthony “Jack” Napolitano, a 1971 graduate who offered his business acumen and enthusiasm for charitable giving to CCRI, died on June 23. Napolitano was an insurance agent and financial adviser for The New England and Metropolitan Insurance Cos., where for decades he specialized in helping people reduce their taxes and protect their assets. “The busier a person is, the more he or she accomplishes,” Napolitano said when he was profiled in 2007 for receiving the Society of the Knights award, which recognizes alumni’s outstanding professional achievements, community service, and service to the college or Alumni Association. He credited a strong work ethic and his CCRI education as the foundation for his success in the insurance and financial fields.

Napolitano arrived at CCRI after serving in Vietnam, where he also earned his GED® credential. Even with a wife, two jobs and two young children, Napolitano earned his associate degree from what was then Rhode Island Junior College. After graduation, he worked for Assumption Mutual Life and then New England Financial before starting his own company. He was well known in the insurance and financial fields, writing several articles for national insurance publications and lecturing new insurance agents from across the United States. He also was the voice of radio program “Smart Money” on WADK radio in Newport County. In 2005, he was elected to the CCRI Foundation board of trustees, and was active in developing the college and championing the school’s tradition of providing a quality education at an economical price. Napolitano was a longtime member of the Newport Rotary Club, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, the Rhode Island Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the Wanumetonomy Golf and Country Club. He is survived by his wife, JeanneMarie Napolitano, mayor of Newport, and his children, Tracey A. Napolitano, Sean P. Napolitano, Michael Napolitano, Joseph P. Napolitano, and his grandchildren.

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RIJC Class of 1966

Then: 40th reunion | May 19, 2006 The 2006 commencement exercises were the backdrop for the 40th reunion of the first graduating class. Alumni shared memories and reminisced about their time at the college during a reception, held at the Knight Campus in Warwick. The room was lined with news clippings, photographs and memorabilia of the people and events that marked the first two years of CCRI’s history.

Now: 50th reunion | May 20, 2016 To commemorate the Class of 1966’s golden anniversary, the Alumni Association held a 50th reunion luncheon before commencement on May 20. Classmates came back to campus to connect with old friends and celebrate the milestone.

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ALUMNI ASSOCIATION presents a trip to

Estoril Coast, Alentejo and Algarve, Portugal Friday, March 10, to Sunday, March 19.

JOIN US! For more information, visit To reserve your spot, call Collette Tours at 800-581-8942, ext. 69 and reference reservation number 748514. *Price includes round-trip air from Boston Logan International Airport, air taxes, fees and surcharges, and hotel transfers. Not included in the price: cancellation waiver and insurance of $280 per person. All rates are per person and subject to change based on air inclusive package. For bookings made after Sept. 12, call 1-800-581-8942 for rates.


• D  iscover the narrow cobblestone streets, old palatial villas and mild climate   with a three-night stay on “The Portuguese Riviera.” • Stay overnight among vineyards and farmland in the heart of the Alentejo region. • Tour two wineries. • Experience the Fado Dinner Show. • Stop in historic Evora, known as the “Museum City of Portugal.” • Take an outing to the Jerónimos Monastery. • V  isit five United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization   World Heritage sites. • Participate in a local cooking demonstration. • Enjoy eight included breakfasts and six dinners.


Day one: Overnight flight Days two to four: Hotel Vila Galé in Cascais Day five: Hotel Vila Galé Clube de Campo in Beja Days six to eight: Hotel Vila Galé Lagos in Algarve Day nine: The Lisbon Marriott Hotel in Lisbon

COST (per person) for reservations made by Sept. 12: Single: $3,399* / Double: $2,999* / Triple: $2,969*

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COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF RHODE ISLAND Liston Campus One Hilton St. Providence, RI 02905-2304

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We’re looking for a few good alumni The Community College of Rhode Island is always seeking unique stories about members of the college community, especially alumni. Share your story with us for possible coverage in a future issue of the Green & White or on the CCRI website. Please send your story to: CCRI Office of Alumni Affairs, 1762 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865 or

CCRI Green & White Summer 2016  
CCRI Green & White Summer 2016