BusinessWest hosted a fun and spirited gala to honor its “40 Under Forty” Class of 2021, which included STCC staff members Dr. Kiyota Garcia and Vonetta Lightfoot.

BusinessWest’s emcee announced Kiyota’s name, and the assistant dean of student initiatives went up to accept her award to the tune of “Work That” by Mary J. Blige.

“Active in the community, Garcia volunteers with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and is a board member for Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence, among other roles. But her most gratifying is making sure students succeed at STCC,” Business West wrote in a post on its website.

“I am honored to be a member of the Business West 40 under 40 class of 2021,” Garcia said. “While at the event I was in awe of the contributions and service my colleagues have accomplished and I left the event more inspired than ever. While it’s always great to take a break and celebrate the successes there is much more work to be done.” 

Next up, BusinessWest put the spotlight on LIghtfoot. She accepted her award as “Go Crazy” by Leslie Odom Jr. played over the PA system at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke on Sept 23.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be recognized by BusinessWest for 40 Under 40,” Lightfoot said. “I am humbled to know that my work has made such an impact on the community in this way and that it is valued enough to be awarded.  It was surreal to be at the awards dinner because I’m so used to celebrating others, but this time it was about me. It meant the world to me that my parents were there with me and in particular, my mom, who started this work 30 plus years ago, and now I am carrying on the legacy. I felt like I made her proud.”

The emcee highlighted Vonetta’s work bringing speakers and performers to STCC in her role as operations manager in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. He noted that she loves her job at STCC, because it gives her the chance to “dream things up and then make them happen.” 

The 40 Under Forty program honors young professionals in Western Massachusetts not only for their career achievements but for their service to the community.

Congratulations to Vonetta Lightfoot and Kiyota Garcia!