At SMCC’s graduation ceremony last month, Bobby Morrissey helped set up the stage and equipment as part of SMCC’s facilities crew. When the time came for students to march across stage and collect their degrees, he donned a cap and gown and joined the graduation procession, having earned a degree more than 40 years after high school.
Morrissey earned his high school diploma in 1977 in Massachusetts and enlisted in the Air Force. He then went to work for a Boston-area tent company following four years in the service.
In 2008, he moved to Old Orchard Beach with his longtime girlfriend and was hired by SMCC, working his way up to grounds and equipment supervisor. While working for SMCC, he decided the time had come to earn a degree.
So he transferred credits he had earned decades ago (from the University of Massachusetts after leaving the Air Force and from the City Colleges of Chicago while stationed in Germany in the Air Force) and enrolled in SMCC’s Liberal Studies program.
All his hard work paid off last December, when he completed his degree with high honors (with a near-perfect 3.97 GPA).
At SMCC’s 71st commencement on May 20, he helped set up equipment with his co-workers before cutting into line to march across the stage with other graduates. When he exited the far side of the stage, he removed his cap and gown and went right back to work to complete his duties for the day.
Even with a degree in hand, Morrissey plans take horticulture classes this fall to learn additional skills to help in his career advancement.
He chuckles as he thinks about how he was old enough to be a grandfather to many students in his classes. Now 59, he says he told younger students that they should get their degrees while still young — and not wait until they’re in their 50s like him.
“My message to younger students is it’s a lot easier to do it when you’re young than to do it later. And for the older people like me, it’s never too late.”
Izzi Grasso, a love of learning
Izzi Grasso admits she didn’t do so great when she went to a small liberal arts college after graduating high school in 2013. She earned a 1.9 GPA as a pre-med major during her one year at Trinity College.
But after coming to SMCC in the spring of 2017, she discovered a newfound love for learning, graduating last month with a 4.0 GPA.
She’ll attend Clarkson University in upstate New York this fall after completing an internship this summer at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, where she’ll be able to apply her interest in data science.
At Clarkson, she plans to have a double major in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics. She eventually hopes to earn a master’s degree.
Following her year at Trinity, and another year at the University of Maine, Izzi worked for a couple of years in Portland’s restaurant industry. SMCC exceeded her expectations, she says, with its high-quality education and students who are highly motivated and engaged.
“At SMCC, I learned to appreciate education for itself, not just for a degree or a certification. SMCC has taught me to appreciate learning for learning’s sake.”