Asnuntuck Community College student Claudia Cupe has been named the first McLaughlin Fellow in Leadership at the college.  Named after the first President of Asnuntuck, the program provides a $1,000 award to a student who will be designated the McLaughlin Fellow in Leadership for the ensuing academic year. 


The McLaughlin Fellowship is awarded to a student who has demonstrated leadership ability and has a clear project to engage in during their fellowship year. 


This program was initiated by Asnuntuck retirees after they heard of Dr. Dan McLaughlin’s death recently, to both honor his crucial role in developing the college and as a way to continue his legacy of innovative thinking and leadership.  “Dr. McLaughlin helped create a culture of innovation at the college that quickly positioned Asnuntuck on the edge of the then fledging community college movement.  He also strongly supported staff who proposed innovative ideas to attract students and help them achieve success,” said Committee member Bill Searle.


“We are so proud to initiate this honor with a student of Claudia’s stature,” said Asnuntuck’s CEO Dr. Michelle Coach.  “Her outstanding leadership in so many areas sets the standard for this award,” said Dr. Coach, continuing, “President McLaughlin, the first president of Asnuntuck, was an extremely innovative and supportive leader, and this award was created to recognize students with those traits.”


“Claudia is the type of leader who gathers others to her, gets them involved and gets them to believe in themselves,” added Amely Cross, Professor of Chemistry.  Carol LaLiberte, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Human Services Coordinator and Department Chairperson added, “Her work with food insecurity, with the student government, and by bringing increased awareness to mental health issues has benefitted students and our community.”


About Cupe, Chair of the McLaughlin Fellowship Committee, Joseph Finckel, Professor of English, said, “Claudia has set the bar so high.  President of our Student Government, member of the Black Student Union, member of our honor society, former President of the Business Club, selected for Leadership Greater Hartford and the Women’s Leadership Institute, selected to represent students on the hiring committees for our regional presidency and then again for the local CEO, the list goes on and on.  I look forward to what she will accomplish this year.”


 “Dan was the kind of leader who just inspired us to take chances when they would benefit students, who wanted us to go that extra step to help students in need,” added Nick Lefakis, Professor Emeritus of Accounting.


In accepting the award, Cupe said she was happy to learn about McLaughlin’s Presidency and the many areas where Asnuntuck was the pioneering college.  She added that this year she will be working with the Student Government Association to continue to make Asnuntuck a welcoming environment, especially for students unsure if they can make it in college. Cupe added, “My goal is not to have ACC students suffer in silence. I will help them with food, mental health counseling referrals or housing information. I always tell all students ‘We are all in this together and you are not alone.’”

Those wishing to donate can visit and designate your gift for the McLaughlin Fellowship, or mail a check written out to the Asnuntuck Community College Foundation (memo line – McLaughlin Fellowship) and mail to Executive Director of the Foundation Keith Madore at 170 Elm Street, Enfield, CT 06082.


Claudia Cupe (center) receives her $1,000 award for receiving the McLaughlin Fellow in Leadership Award at Asnuntuck Community College from CEO Dr. Michelle Coach. Members of the committee include Nick Lefakis, Amely Cross, Bill Searle and Joe Finckel and missing from photo Carol LaLiberte. Photo by Andrea Church