18 Sep

A conversation with Felisha Guirand-Fleurimond

AMTC’s Recruitment and Retention Coordinator

Four years ago Felisha Guirand-Fleurimond, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator for our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC), came to Housatonic as a Data and Reporting Specialist on a one-year grant. Since then, she has built a deep appreciation for the field and discovered her passion for working within diverse groups.

A Central High School and UCONN graduate, Felisha cut her teeth in education at REACH Prep in Stamford. There, she worked as a Director of Middle School Programs with underserved, high-achieving Black and Latino students while they gained access to educational experiences that prepared them for college.

After a four-year stint, Felisha realized she wanted to come back home, and today at HCC, she recruits students into the AMTC program and keeps them engaged. She hosts open houses weekly throughout summer months and daily during April breaks. Once in the program, she encourages them, reminding them that the experiences and skills they’re attaining will put them in-demand in the thriving field of advanced manufacturing.

“This program is life changing. We get people back into the classroom that haven’t been there for 30 years. Learning doesn’t stop, and this program is a beacon of hope for people who thought their career was over,” said Felisha.

Her favorite part of her job is student interaction and seeing their growth over time during the nine-month certificate program. “By November they’re not sure whether they’ve made the right choice, but by April, they realize the fruits of their labor.”

Each year, the program recruits between 30-66 students, but Covid has changed things for the 2020-21 academic year. This fall, 26 students will participate in the program with social distancing protocols. Students that were turned away were put on a wait list, so AMTC pivoted, finding a way to create a new Spring 2021 cohort to retain those candidates – the first time in the program’s history.

“While the AMTC department has grown over time, one thing is consistent: people care. I love the team. For the professors, this is more than a job, they share personal experiences, volunteer their time and supplies. Their dedication makes it easy for the rest of us.”

Felisha is one of six outstanding HCC leaders chosen to attend the Connecticut Change Leadership workshop program next month, a professional development opportunity open only to nominated Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) community college leaders.

“I’ve received so much support here and it doesn’t go unrecognized. The helpful environment has led me to care about the quality of my work, and a win for one of us is a win for all of us.”

Felisha and her husband are expecting their first child this winter.