Valedictorian: Aimee Rodrigues

Aimee Rodrigues

Aimee M. Rodrigues, of North Dighton, was inspired to pursue Bristol’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program while assisting with therapies for her 17-year-old daughter who has multiple disabilities. 

While studying at Bristol, Aimee maintained a 4.0 GPA while balancing family responsibilities and serving at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, where she works closely with individuals planning to enter the workforce or live on their own. She credits her supportive, loving family and husband for their encouragement while earning her degree. 

Aimee plans to utilize her experience and education as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) and continue serving as a disability advocate, identifying barriers and connecting family members with valuable resources.  

Salutatorian: Ryan Ribeiro

Ryan Ribeiro

Ryan Phillip Ribeiro, of Fall River, came to Bristol for an education that would allow him to shift careers from a previous trade and find his true passion. While taking mostly online classes in the college’s Business Administration Transfer program, Ryan found support from his dedicated professors and family.

In addition to excelling academically in the classroom, Ryan engages with his community by playing the trumpet in the St. Anthony’s Band of Fall River.

He plans to continue his education at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, with the goal of pursuing a career in the financial field. 

Distinguished Citizen: John Bullard

John Bullard

John K. Bullard’s career has been devoted to bettering the health of the oceans and improving his hometown of New Bedford. Mr. Bullard served six years as Mayor of New Bedford, from 1986 to 1992, bringing the city into compliance with the Clean Water Act, paving the way for offshore wind to be located at the former Standard-Times field and leading the revitalization of the city's waterfront historic district.

He joined the Clinton Administration, establishing the first federal Office of Sustainable Development in NOAA, and later served as Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries in the Northeast. 

Bullard also co-founded the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership and the SouthCoast Learning Network. He serves as Chair of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster and the Westport Community Resilience Committee. He also serves as a board member of the Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Westport Planning Board. He and his wife, Laurie, live in Westport and have three children and five grandchildren.

Distinguished Citizen: Richard Wolfson

Richard Wolfson

Richard B. Wolfson is a dedicated supporter of Bristol Community College. Wolfson served as a member of the college’s Board of Trustees, from 1996 to 2006, and chaired the Board from 2002 to 2006. Currently, he holds a distinguished role on Bristol's Foundation Board. In 2023, Mr. Wolfson established a speaker series at the college, providing the community access to high-profile speakers at no cost.

Mr. Wolfson earned his bachelor's degree in history from Brown University and is an experienced financial services professional. He was a Partner at Wolfson, Zalkind and Company, before becoming a Manager and Vice President at A.G. Edwards, from 2000 to 2007, and Wells Fargo Advisors, from 2007 to 2010. In 2010, he founded the Fall River branch of Edward Jones, where he worked as a consultant and financial advisor.

Mr. Wolfson is an esteemed community leader serving on multiple boards and community organizations including the Fall River Board of Assessors, the Fall River Public Library, the Fall River Jewish Home, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts and the United Way of Fall River. He was honored as Citizen of the Year by the Fall River Chamber of Commerce in 2000.

Honorary Degree: Maria Lawton

Maria Lawton

Maria Lawton, also known as the "Azorean Green Bean," is an esteemed host and executive producer of the multi-award-winning series "Maria's Portuguese Table" on PBS. With a deep connection to her Azorean roots in Portugal, Maria has successfully brought the essence of authentic Portuguese cuisine and culture to American television audiences, garnering worldwide acclaim. The series has made television history as the first series on PBS to showcase Portuguese culture.

Maria is also a celebrated author, with her best-selling first cookbook, "Azorean Cooking: From My Family Table to Yours," offering a heartfelt narrative intertwined with authentic family recipes, providing a window into the rich culinary heritage of the Azores. 

When not captivating audiences, she finds solace at home as well as traveling with her husband Bob, the show’s co-executive producer. Maria Lawton embodies the spirit of resilience, passion, and creativity, inspiring all who cross her path to embrace their roots, celebrate their heritage, and savor the beauty of shared moments around the table. 

Last Lecture

Joyce FernandesThe Last Lecture is a faculty honor created by the Bristol Community College Student Senate. The award honors one exemplary faculty member who has affected students’ education and their lives in significant ways.

Joyce Adler Fernandes, M.Ed., Professor of Communications at Bristol Community College was selected by students to deliver the Last Lecture at Bristol’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony.

Grand Marshal

Donna Davis has been honored to serve as the Grand Marshal at Bristol’s 2023 Commencement Ceremony. Continuing Bristol's tradition of awarding this honor to one of the college's longest-serving faculty or staff members, Davis will lead this year’s graduates to the commencement stage.