PLATTSBURGH — Clinton Community College honored local businessman Michael Carpenter with its first Education Champion Award Thursday.
Prior to the event, held in the Moore Administration Building's Learning Commons lobby, Carpenter shared that, while he does not consider himself a huge proponent of formal education itself, he is a big advocate of nontraditional students and believes CCC does a great job embracing them.
"It's pretty cool to be recognized as somebody that believes in that," he told The Press-Republican.
In a statement, CCC President Ray DiPasquale described Carpenter — founder/president of the MHAB Life Skills Campus and president/CEO of The Northeast Group — as the epitome of personal and professional success.
He noted Carpenter's 30-year journey in recovery as well as how he "sees the value of an education and helps those in need to obtain one.”
Carpenter explained that he works to help people navigate their way to both starting their education and realizing how it can help them get to a good place in life.
“My fondest memory of Mike is seeing him at a recent graduation ceremony, standing on top of a large boulder looking for two of his peers who had just graduated from Clinton," DiPasquale said.
"The pride in his voice and on his face for their accomplishments was priceless … this shows his commitment to his employees and to the community overall. We couldn’t have picked a more deserving individual to receive the first ever award.”
In describing how the college has helped nontraditional students start their education, Carpenter spoke from his own experience as someone who dropped out of high school in the 1980s.
"In order just to get a high school diploma, I went to a college entry program. It was a four days per week, four hours a day classroom study at the college that ... allowed us to use those credits to finish getting a high school diploma.
"For me, just the ability to get a high school diploma, think of how much that means to me just to have that."
Carpenter also described the college's Institute for Advanced Manufacturing as a "phenomenal educational resource" for people to further their trades, proof CCC looks to train people for an effective career.
And the college is a place for older students, he continued, who may go into the workforce straight out of high school, but want to test out college later.
Overall, Carpenter felt humbled by the award.
"I obviously don’t do this for the accolades. I try to be somebody that gives back to a community that’s been so good to me over the years, including the college.
"My goal would be to make sure I continue to be what they consider an education champion."
Carpenter says he aims to help people get to their version of the American dream, not his or society's.
"Whatever the level of education they need, people should have the right to obtain that."
Funds raised from the Education Champion Celebration event — about $30,000 as of Wednesday — will be given to the Clinton Community College Foundation to help further the education of students in need.
Carpenter is also set to receive an honorary degree from at the college's commencement.
CCC is set to celebrate the classes of 2021 and 2020 in a drive-through ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday. It will be broadcast live on WIRY and livestreamed by Good Guy Productions.
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