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QCC’s 50 Guardians, Alumni Making a Difference: Iris Cotto

Saturday, February 01, 2014
GoLocalWorcester Lifestyle Team

To celebrate Quinsigamond Community College's 50th anniversary, the college is naming "50 Guardians": QCC alumni and friends who have made a difference within the QCC and broader Worcester communities.

Ten Guardians from all manner of occupation and walks of life have already been announced, beginning with this week's profile, Iris Cotto. GoLocalWorcester will profile a guardian every week, celebrating each of these 50 extraordinary individuals.

Find out more about Iris--plus how to nominate a Guardian--below.

Iris Cotto: Youth Librarian, Worcester Public Library

In 1981, when Iris Cotto enrolled at Quinsigamond Community College, she had no idea what she wanted to study. The coincidental creation of an applied arts program at the time of her enrollment set her on a clear course, leading to professional advancement and personal fulfillment.

At the age of 5, she and her siblings moved from her native Puerto Rico to the United States and six years later settled in Worcester, where she has lived ever since. From the time she was a young girl, she worked a variety of jobs and at age 18 landed at the library. A library administrator took Cotto under her wing and urged her to pursue a degree. With support from the library, her husband, two children and extended family, she reluctantly tested the academic waters.

Quinsigamond is where it all began for me,” she said. “When I went into the classroom, my eyes opened up and I realized that I could do this. I started to become actively thirsty to be in the know.”

Cotto, Youth Librarian at Worcester Public Library, was recently named an Alumni Guardian by Quinsigamond Community College, for her service to the community and the college. To help celebrate QCC’s 50th anniversary, the college is naming 50 guardians who have made a difference in their lives and the lives of those around them. The first 10 guardians were announced earlier this fall, and now QCC is seeking nominations from the community. 

When QCC launched its applied arts and illustration program, Cotto, who had a lifelong penchant for arts and photography, signed up immediately. Under the guidance of Professor George Fitch, she excelled and earned her associate degree in graphic design. She also credits John Soloperto for his moral and academic support. “He was like a big brother to me,” she said.

Citing QCC as a gateway, Cotto said, “Quinsigamond became a stepping stone for me. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. That was huge for me. QCC is a welcoming, inviting place. It’s ideal for so many adults who are working, but also want to go back to school.”

Guardians should be people who have attended QCC or been involved with the college, and been transformed by their experience. It may have led them to further education, involvement in the community, or entrepreneurship.

The guardians represent the spirit of the College’s mythological mascot, the Wyvern, who was the guardian protector of our sister city, Worcester, England. Staff, faculty, and friends of Quinsigamond Community College also may be considered for this award provided they meet the eligibility guidelines. A selection committee will review nominations and choose guardians.

To nominate a guardian, go to www.qcc.edu/guardians and fill out the form provided.

Watch for announcements on Twitter at twitter.com/50Guardians
 

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