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Event celebrates 50 years of CCRI alumni
March 27, 2015
Over the past 50 years, the Community College of Rhode Island has graduated 64,000 alumni. Last night at a truly special evening at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, CCRI had an opportunity to applaud an accomplished group of these men and women at its "Celebrating Alumni for 50 Years" event.
About 650 people were in attendance for the festivities, which included a cocktail hour, awards ceremony emceed by WPRI 12 anchor Mike Montecalvo, a seated dinner and an extraordinary performance by musician and educator Livingston Taylor. Invited guests included CCRI faculty, staff, family, friends and political dignitaries from across the state. Throughout the evening, one could see classmates catching up with one another, sharing stories of their varied experiences both at and after their time at the college.
"It's extraordinary to be here, just amazing to be among everybody here," said Melissa Nassaney '98, one of the alumni awardees. "CCRI gave me the confidence that I needed to flourish."
Nassaney got her start in the Physical Therapist Assistant program at the college before going on to achieve bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in physical therapy. Now, she's a respected member of her field both locally and nationally, but she said she still felt humbled by the "huge diversity of talent and expertise" in the room.
Fellow alumni awardee Dr. Michael J. Hayden '77 graduated long before Nassaney, but also got his start in one of the Health Sciences programs, Nursing. He went on to become a doctor of osteopathy, practicing for 28 years. "To sum up in a few words what the college meant to me would be tough," said Hayden, who also played basketball for the Knights. "It was a tremendous lift to me back in the '70s. And I've always been able to relate that to my patients – how I got started."
In addition to the 23 alumni awardees, three divisional awardees were recognized at the start of the evening to represent the outstanding achievements springing from the three divisions of the college: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Business, Science and Technology; and Health and Rehabilitative Sciences.
Lin Tucci, Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor seen on Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black," graduated from the college in 1971, and said that no matter where she went in the world – and this includes national tours for the Broadway show "Nunsense" and a turn on the silver screen in "Showgirls" – she carried her fans and family from CCRI in her heart.
"I could never have done it without you," she said in an emotional acceptance speech from the podium that night. "Cheers to another 50 years!"
Sandra Pattie '76, president and CEO of BankNewport, got her start at the college with an associate degree in Business. During her time on the stage, she reflected on how lucky she had been – specifically her good fortune to find CCRI at a time in her life when she needed that direction. "I'm lucky to have met the professors I did, the ones who recognized something in me that I didn't know I had," she said. "I'm lucky CCRI was here for me."
Antonia "Toni" McGuire '75 is a graduate of the college's Nursing program who serves as president and CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Like Tucci and Pattie, she thanked her family for the sacrifices they made for her as she began to climb the ladder of a distinguished career. "No one ever really walks this path alone," she said, before adding a specific tribute to not only the teachers who mentored her, but to inspire the next generation of teachers. "Teachers invested in me, and helped turn my work into something bigger than me and bigger than life. If you invest in one person, you invest in a community. At CCRI, every person is an investment in our future," she said.
After the divisional awardees were honored, members of the elite Society of the Knights in attendance and then the alumni awardees joined them, eventually filling the sizable stage with decades of success, memories and returns on investments to which one couldn't possibly assign a price.
"CCRI produces such wonderful and successful people," said Marisa Albini, director of Alumni Affairs, summing up the evening. "So many outstanding alumni are here tonight, and it's so exciting to be able to gather and celebrate them all."
Read more about all of the award-winners in the Winter issue of the Green & White alumni magazine.
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