At the launch of the college’s first major gifts campaign in more than a decade, Springfield Technical Community College President John B. Cook announced the naming of the Tuohey Family Welcome Center at the Student Learning Commons.
Brian Tuohey, president of The Collins Companies in East Windsor, Connecticut, and a generous supporter of STCC, beamed with delight after hearing the news. His family, including his five children and 12 grandchildren, made a surprise appearance at the kickoff event on Oct. 22.
“It was absolutely a total surprise,” said Tuohey. He is a longtime member of the STCC Foundation Board of Directors and its past president.
“I have been on for 25 years, and it has been a labor of love,” Tuohey told STCC alumni, staff, retirees and others at STCC’s Campaign for Student Success Launch Event. “We’re serving a community that needs our help. That’s been my motivation.”
About 60 percent of the students at STCC are the first in their families to go to college. While STCC is among the most affordable higher education institutions in the state, 70 percent of the students rely on financial aid.
STCC Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs Denise M. Hurst said the STCC Foundation’s Campaign for Student Success helps to keep STCC affordable. The foundation is seeking contributions from corporate and private-sector support as well as individuals.
“To remain an accessible option, we need support from the community to raise money for scholarships and to pay for critical student services,” Hurst said. “Our major gifts campaign supports our mission to help students transform their lives. We provide a pathway to higher education for the Springfield community, including first-generation college students, students of color and low-income families. Despite being the most affordable option in Springfield, many of our students struggle to pay for their education and support their families. Your help can make a meaningful difference.”
Tuohey praised STCC for the quality of education it provides the community. “Three daughters came to STCC. They pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees from other universities and colleges. They would tell you the school that cared for them and the school that taught them was STCC.”
Tuohey highlighted STCC’s focus on workforce development as another reason why he supports the college. “STCC has 98 degrees and certificate programs, and 85 of these programs prepare our students to directly enter our workforce. We need STCC.”
President Cook thanked Tuohey. “For decades now, Brian has been a quiet leader in supporting this college,” Cook said. “His generosity has been significant and a blessing to this college.”
Also speaking at the kickoff of the major gifts campaign was Elizabeth Ryan, a graduate of the Mechanical Engineering Technology program.
Ryan said working toward her degree was not easy, but the payoff was huge. “During those two years, I learned skills necessary to start my career as a manufacturing engineer,” Ryan said. “I had no idea of the opportunities that I would benefit from once I started at STCC. I wasn’t thinking about attending a four-year college. In fact, I didn’t even try to apply to any despite my guidance counselor’s advice. All I knew is, I didn’t want to have tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, and I wanted to start working in an industry that I had a passion for as quickly as possible. STCC made that happen for me.”
Ryan added, “I found a career I’m passionate for, juggled working full time and going to school. I’ve bought a two family house at 22 years old, and started volunteering for a few different educational boards.”
The STCC Foundation, a nonprofit organization, helps the college meet its goals and commitment to provide superior educational opportunities in the community. Each year, STCC and its foundation give more than $1 million worth of scholarships to students. The foundation relies on donations to help meet the college’s mission to support students as they transform their lives.