Four inductees for Capital Community College’s Alumni Wall of Fame will be recognized at a virtual Changing Lives Celebration on Friday October 22, 2021, continuing an annual event that has supported scholarships and programs at Hartford’s two-year public college since 2004.
The Changing Lives Celebration originating from the downtown campus from 6 to 7:30 p.m. will focus on the College’s School of Workforce and Continuing Education’s new school-to-work programs that lead to “a first job, a better job and a career” as students gain specialized knowledge and credentials for immediate jobs and opportunities to pursue higher education. Alumni honorees will share their stories in a program that will feature The Island Reflections Dance Company and Hartford singer Nidayah Bolling. Net proceeds will benefit the College’s school-to-work programs and scholarships.
The 2021 inductees, who come from the fields of nursing, education and literacy, cybersecurity and insurance include:
Carol V. Johnson (’71), EdD, is director and co-founder of the Hartford-based Center for Urban Education & Training (CURET), a community organization founded in 1991. CURET, a partner with Hartford Public Schools, Capital Community College and other institutions, has provided adult literacy, parenting education, health and civic literacy for residents and immigrants in its 30-year history. Graduating with an associate degree from Greater Hartford Community College, Carol earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degrees in evaluation and statistics from Andrews University. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford. With her husband, Dr. Edgar Johnson, Carol has edited and published the West Indian American newspaper, a voice for Hartford’s large West Indian community.
Stephanie Knutson, (’95) RN, EdD is a senior training and technical assistance associate for Education Development Center (EDC). Retired from the CT Department of Education as a school health administrator Knutson is an accomplished educator and nurse leader in the fields of school nursing, health education, and early childhood education. Knutson develops evidence-based tools, techniques, and trainings for EDC’s National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety. All of her work, according to the EDC, focuses on reducing health disparities, preventing chronic disease, and advancing knowledge of the pivotal role of health in closing opportunity gaps. Prior to joining EDC, Knutson served as a school health administrator and school nursing and health education consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education. She is the past president of the Connecticut Nurses Association (CNA) and currently serves as the membership assembly representative for the CNA Leadership Committee. Knutson holds MSN and EdD degrees from the University of Hartford and a BS in Accounting from the University of Connecticut. Following her undergraduate education at UCONN Stephanie enrolled at Capital Community College earning the Associate degree in nursing in 1995.
Rupesh Parajuli (’11) earned the associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Capital in 2011 going on to earn a B.S. in Industrial Technology Networking and an MBA as he worked at Travelers. Rupesh was selected as a Travelers EDGE intern as a Capital and CCSU undergraduate and now mentors and encourages others to pursue an insurance career. Recently he was promoted to Director, Business Information Security Officer, at Travelers where he began his career as a network engineer in 2013. Born in Nepal Rupesh came to Hartford for his post-secondary educational start at Capital balancing work and full-time study that led him to become an IT security professional with increasing responsibilities at his employer. A free-lance translator, Rupesh is fluent in Hindi and Nepali. He resides in West Hartford with his wife and two young children.
Blerina (Bela) Pina (’12) is a territory manager and contract surety specialist at Nationwide Insurance. She began her career at Travelers Insurance as an underwriter and financial analyst after earning her associate’s degree in management. At Capital Blerina was also selected as a Travelers EDGE intern in the Career Advancement Program (formerly Crossroads to Careers (C3)). She went on to earn her degree in accounting at Central CT State University (CCSU). In 2019 Blerina was elected to the Board of the CT chapter of Professional Women in Construction (PWC). With her family Blerina migrated from Albania at a young age and she attended Hartford Public Schools.
Parajuli and Pina are among Capital alumni over the last 12 years to be recruited for their high academic achievement in the Travelers EDGE program, a multi-college internship and mentoring initiative the insurer launched at Capital in 2008
Individual contributions at supporter ($100), friend ($50) and alumni ($25) levels and sponsorships are invited in support of the Changing Lives Celebration that will include the Best of Capital online silent auction from October 18 to October 22. Contributors will receive a Capital Changing Lives Backpack with special gifts. Supporting Changing Lives 2021 are corporate sponsors Liberty Bank and Travelers Insurance and patron sponsors American Eagle Financial Credit Union, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Garcia and G. Duncan Harris, John Perkins, Lana & Surendra Bridglall.
Capital’s Alumni Wall of Fame, launched at the 2019 Changing Lives Gala, is located at the College’s 2nd Floor Welcome Center near the Main Street windows and the Walter J. Markiewicz Community Room. Inductees’ pictures and biographies are featured alongside a permanent Wall of Fame plaque recognizing an alumni class each year.