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HOLYOKE ­— With the Taber Art Gallery at Holyoke Community College (HCC) still closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college’s annual Student Art Show is being presented virtually this spring for the second year in a row.

“Despite a very challenging year, our amazing students in the HCC Visual Art Department managed to rise above the limitations of online classrooms and create astounding artworks,” gallery Director Amy Johnquest said. “This is evidenced not only by the talent of each student, but also reflects the great instruction and ingenuity they received from their teachers.”

The 2021 Student Art Show can be viewed on the Taber Art Gallery website, hcc.edu/student-art-2021.

The virtual exhibition is arranged alphabetically according to the names of members of the HCC Visual Art faculty and features up to 12 selections of student work from each of the classes they taught this year: Lahri Bond (Introduction to Illustration); Douglas Breault (Basic Drawing); Felice Caivano (3-Dimensional Design – Sculptural Form); John Calhoun (2-Dimensional Design); Vance Chatel (Commercial Art & Design, Computers for Graphic Design); Bill Devine (Basic Drawing); Tara Conant (Basic Still Photography, Introduction to Digital Fine Arts Photography); Benj Gleeksman (Computers for Graphic Designers, Introduction to Web Design, Typography); Alix Hegeler (Painting, Printmaking); Cindi Ludlam (3-Dimensional Design – Sculptural Form, Basic Drawing); Christopher Lizon (Basic Still Photography); Margie Rothermich (Basic Drawing, Drawing Composition); and Joe Saphire (Digital Studio).

Usually, each teacher from HCC’s Visual Art Department is given a section of the gallery in which to showcase their students’ work. Student art is also displayed in the campus hallways, and the exhibition concludes with a reception and celebration in the gallery and in the HCC Library lobby.

The art on display in the online galleries are photographs or digital images of original work.

“Though we miss the live celebration and student exhibition on campus,” Johnquest said, “on the plus side, the wonderful work presented virtually may be visited and shared throughout the summer and beyond.”

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HOLYOKE — The STEM Starter Academy at Holyoke Community College (HCC) is offering free courses this summer for students interested in pursuing STEM majors at HCC or careers in the STEM field.

“STEM Explorations,” a four-credit lab-science class, will run from July 6 to Aug. 5 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with an additional lab on either Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The class is open to currently enrolled and incoming HCC students, dual-enrolled high-school students, and adults interested in learning more about STEM. There are no prerequisites to apply for admission, and 100% of costs are covered.

The course will meet online in real time. Lab kits and course materials are included and will be sent to students’ homes. Supplemental instructors and peer mentors will be available for tutoring and to advise students about STEM options at HCC.

“This is an excellent opportunity to get four free college credits while learning about science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Melissa Paciulli, HCC STEM Starter Academy director. “STEM Explorations is always a fun, engaging, and exciting class.”

In addition, HCC is also offering a free “Calculus 1” class this summer for currently enrolled STEM majors and students who score high enough on the college placement test. This four-credit online course runs from June 7 to July 8.

To apply for the free summer STEM classes, visit hcc.edu/stemstarter.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021 on Saturday, June 5 with a virtual commencement ceremony starting at 10 a.m. This livestreamed event will be accessible at hcc.edu and the college’s social-media channels.

The ceremony will feature introductory and concluding remarks from President Christina Royal and Robert Gilbert, chair of the HCC board of trustees. Keynote speeches will be delivered by two members of the HCC faculty: Raúl Gutiérrez, associate professor of Spanish and recipient of the 2021 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence; and Vanessa Martinez, professor of Anthropology and recipient of the 2020 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence. The student address will be presented by graduating HCC student Tugce Kuruca.

The event will include musical performances by Christian Santiago, from the class of 2020, playing the cuatro (a four-string Latin American guitar); graduating music major Chan Collins, playing the cello; and the HCC College Chorale.

The virtual event will feature a virtual procession of graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 and a collection of photos and short congratulatory videos from faculty and staff.

The Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence was endowed by the late HCC Professor Emeritus Elaine Marieb. Each year, one full-time member of the faculty is recognized with the award for outstanding classroom teaching. Award recipients serve for one year and receive a small stipend for professional development and also give the keynote graduation speech. Because of the pandemic, HCC did not have a Commencement ceremony in 2020, so Martinez was invited to give her speech this year.

In addition to their classroom teaching responsibilities, Gutiérrez is chair of the HCC Foreign Languages program and co-founder and coordinator of HCC’s Latinx Studies program, while Martinez is coordinator of the HCC Honors Program.

Detailed information about Commencement can be found at hcc.edu/commencement. The ceremony will be closed-captioned and ASL-interpreted.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Led by auto dealer Gary Rome, trustees, alumni, and friends, Holyoke Community College raised $122,000 for student-support programs last month during its one-day “Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives” campaign.

Organizers had set a goal of 150 donors for the 24-hour fund drive on April 27. The final tally was 295.

“It was really inspiring to see all the community support that came together for the ‘Together HCC’ campaign to invest in our students,” said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation. “Our goal for the one-day campaign was 150 donors, and by noon we had already exceeded that. By the end of the day, we had almost doubled our goal, and that was in large part thanks to the support of Gary Rome Hyundai.”

Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, had issued a donation challenge of $10,000 if the campaign met its goals of securing 150 new donors and 1,000 social-media posts using the hashtag #TogetherHCC. He presented a check to HCC officials at his Holyoke dealership on May 4.

“The reason we got involved in this campaign is because we wanted to shine a spotlight on this wonderful institution right here in our backyard, dispel the misconception that community colleges receive all their funding from the state, and highlight how important it is to raise funds to help support our community college,” Rome said.

One of the donors was HCC alumna Ruby Maddox, co-founder of the Springfield nonprofit Gardening in the Community.

“As a first-generation college student, HCC made it possible for me to get my first undergraduate degree, which led me to getting my graduate degree,” said Maddox, now the study abroad advisor and international internship coordinator at Mount Holyoke College. “My HCC education was accessible, affordable, and transformational. I started Gardening in the Community while at HCC, and I learned what it was like to truly make things happen.”

In addition to Rome, Peg Wendlandt and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, Dylan Pilon, trustees Robert Gilbert and Charlie Epstein, HCC Foundation board member Mike Roundy, and the HCC Alumni Council all posed match and challenge gifts for the campaign.

Alumnus Myke Connolly, owner of Stand Out Truck, donated the use of his mobile billboard.

“Myke literally drove to change lives from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on April 27, displaying ads promoting our giving day throughout the region, and documented his day on social media, creating even more energy and buzz,” said campaign organizer Julie Phillips, HCC’s coordinator of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.

In addition to his #TogetherHCC donation, Connolly created the Stand Out Truck Celeste Berger Annual Scholarship at HCC to be awarded this spring to a current HCC student of marketing, business, or entrepreneurship.

“The reason I had to get involved with this is because HCC has done a lot for me,” Connolly said. “Through HCC, I was introduced to Mike Kittredge, who started Yankee Candle. He taught me all about business. That’s the beauty of this place. It’s a genuine place where people want to see you succeed. If someone is looking to get a start or start over, this is where you begin.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — State Rep. Patricia Duffy announced that $50,000 has been earmarked in the House fiscal-year 2022 budget to seed the development and implementation of a new Manufacturing Training Program at Holyoke Community College (HCC).

“Holyoke employers need a trained workforce, and Holyoke constituents need career-track jobs,” Duffy said. “I’m thrilled to see these local assets of our population and our historical manufacturing base come together and build on each other.”

According to labor and workforce data, 9.7% of jobs in Holyoke are in manufacturing, compared to 6.7% statewide. Meanwhile, at 9.9%, the unemployment rate in Holyoke is the second-highest in Western Mass. after Springfield’s 11.2%, compared to a statewide rate of 6.6% for March 2021.

The Manufacturing Training Program will join a robust stable of workforce-development programs at HCC, Duffy said.

“We’re grateful to Rep. Duffy for advocating for this funding on behalf of the college,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “Manufacturing is an important employment sector in Holyoke and one with deep historical roots. Despite the city’s high unemployment rate, a significant number of manufacturing jobs in Holyoke remain vacant. The purpose of this new program is to increase the number of Holyoke residents working in manufacturing, especially those impacted by poverty, unemployment, and limited educational opportunities.”

The program will serve up to 45 individuals in three cohorts by providing approximately 150 hours of remote and in-person, hands-on training combined with workplace experiential learning.

The three-phase program includes skills assessments and pre-training focused on workplace readiness in English and basic math, followed by core training in entry-level manufacturing.

The manufacturing component will include modules in communication, teamwork, customer service, digital literacy, general manufacturing processes and principles, blueprints, dimensions, tolerances, instrumentation and measuring; manufacturing workplace math, lean manufacturing, problem solving, quality control, and workplace safety.

Regional employers will be invited to participate in curriculum design and delivery as guest speakers, as well as in hosting tours of their facilities when possible. Participants will be connected to area employers and receive job-placement assistance through HCC and MassHire Holyoke.

“We believe the program will benefit job seekers, incumbent workers, and businesses of Holyoke and the region alike,” Royal said. “Ultimately, the goal is to help lift individuals out of poverty and meet the needs of the business community.”

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HOLYOKE — Citing the financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holyoke Community College (HCC) board of trustees voted to freeze student fees for the upcoming academic year. The vote was 8-0.

“This unanimous vote to freeze fees demonstrates our concern for the success of our students,” said Robert Gilbert, board chair. “They depend on us, and freezing costs when they’re facing grave economic uncertainty is the right thing to do. We’re trying to do everything we can to make it easier for students to come here, stay here, and succeed here.”

The vote locks HCC’s educational service fee at $188 per credit and the student service fee at $145 per semester for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1.

Over the past five years, HCC has raised fees by about 5% annually. Tuition for all community colleges in Massachusetts is set by the state. At HCC, tuition is $24 per credit, a number that has not changed in more than 10 years.

“Holyoke Community College is fortunate to have a board of trustees that recognizes the financial hardships brought on by this pandemic and understands that many of our students have been disproportionately impacted,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “The decision to freeze fees, as well as greater investments in student supports that address food insecurity, mental health, and digital equity, mean that students will have more resources and financial support to attend HCC now and in the future.”

Since the pandemic began, HCC has received more than $3.7 million in higher-education relief funds for direct student financial support. That has enabled HCC to provide $550 block grants to every student enrolled for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Those grants, and other incentives, are likely to be available again for the fall 2021 semester. In addition, HCC has received more than $7 million in stimulus money to cover additional expenses incurred during the pandemic.

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HOLYOKE — Dr. Sarah Perez McAdoo, population health capstone director at UMass Medical School, and Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, will be the featured presenters at the Wednesday, April 28 session of the Holyoke Community College (HCC) Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series.

Perez McAdoo and Collins will lead a discussion titled “Courageous Actions” from noon to 1:15 p.m.

The 2021 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series takes place over Zoom on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Participants join a group of women leaders to discuss current issues and ideas to help their leadership development. They also have the opportunity to build a network of women leaders to help them navigate their careers.

The May 26 event, called “Leading Through Change,” will feature Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and Jess Roncarati-Howe, the organization’s program director.

Sessions cost $20 each. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/leadership-luncheons.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Registration is now open for summer and fall classes at Holyoke Community College (HCC), and that includes approximately 400 classes that will meet on campus for in-person learning beginning Sept. 7.

Summer classes at HCC are being offered in both five-week and seven-week formats: Summer Session I begins June 6 and runs five weeks, Summer Session II begins July 12 and runs five weeks, and HCC’s full summer session runs for seven weeks, with classes starting June 7 and 8.

With the exception of some courses in a few specific academic areas, most summer classes are being offered fully online or in a blended remote format (a combination of scheduled virtual class meetings and online course work).

For the fall 2021 semester, however, HCC plans to add at least 400 classes across the curriculum that will meet on campus at least part time for in-person instruction, with many meeting as much as 100% in person. HCC will also continue to offer fully online classes and blended remote classes for students who might be more comfortable with those options.

“As more residents of Massachusetts are able to be vaccinated throughout the spring and summer, we expect that the spread of COVID-19 will be greatly reduced by fall,” said Mark Hudgik, director of Admissions. “We will still be taking steps to mitigate exposure. For example, masks and social distancing will be required, on-campus class sizes will be smaller, and we will continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to shift to remote learning if necessary. However, we think this is an important step in the return to normal life.”

To maximize available options for students, HCC will continue to offer multiple, flexible start dates during the fall 2021 semester. Full fall-semester classes start Sept. 7 and run for 14 weeks, Fall Start II classes begin Sept. 27 and run for 12 weeks, and Fall Start III classes begin Oct. 27 and run for seven weeks.

“Students can choose from all of the available class modalities as well as start dates to create a schedule that best meets their individual needs,” Hudgik said.

To help prospective students make informed decisions, the HCC Admissions office is holding weekly virtual information sessions on the following Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m.: April 20, April 27, May 4, May 18, and May 25, as well as Tuesday, May 11, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. To register for one of these live Zoom information sessions with an HCC Admissions counselor, visit hcc.edu/visit-campus.

For more information on HCC classes or to enroll, visit hcc.edu/admission or call (413) 552-2321.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) is planning a virtual commencement for spring and preparing to welcome students, faculty, and staff safely back to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

HCC’s 75th-anniversary commencement will be livestreamed on Saturday, June 5 on the HCC website and the college’s social-media channels. The virtual commencement will celebrate the class of 2021 as well as the class of 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, HCC made the decision last year to recognize the class of 2020 with a virtual celebration in August 2020 and also invite graduates to participate in a more traditional graduation ceremony this year along with the class of 2021.

Planning for commencement begins months in advance, and HCC officials made their decision on this year’s ceremony based on conditions in February before new guidelines were announced allowing for limited outdoor and indoor ceremonies.

“Unlike the 2020 celebration, the 2021 ceremony will include traditional commencement moments with an emphasis on the elements our students told us matter most to them,” HCC President Christina Royal said. Those elements include having student orators from both classes and keynote speeches delivered by the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Elaine Marieb Chair for Teaching Excellence, HCC’s highest faculty award. “We will also have a virtual procession and the traditional reading of names of graduates from both classes along with photographs submitted by members of each class.”

For the fall 2021 semester, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 7, HCC is offering a variety of class formats, including face-to-face, in-person, on-campus classes with a maximum of 10 students per classroom.

Following guidelines from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the fall 2021 return-to-campus plan allows for maximum flexibility and adaptability, at all times prioritizing the safety and well-being of HCC students, faculty, and staff.

HCC will provide multiple course formats to suit different learning styles and personal preferences: on campus, blended on campus and remote, synchronous remote, and asynchronous online.

“HCC is paying particular attention to scheduling courses that will allow incoming students to maximize on-campus instruction if they so choose,” Royal said. “The plan provides us the flexibility to make adjustments as public-health conditions evolve over the months ahead.”

In addition to on-campus, blended, and remote offerings for fall 2021, HCC will continue to offer a full slate of fully online courses across the curriculum. As much as possible, administration offices and student services will also be open and staffed, while maintaining safe and social-distancing protocols, including mandatory mask wearing and plexiglass screens in areas where students and members of the public most closely interact with staff.

While campus offices and support services will be open to students this fall, HCC will also continue to offer services and support through online chat and Zoom for students who feel more comfortable accessing college services remotely.

“I really believe the pandemic has made HCC a better version of itself,” Royal said. “We have enhanced our support for students and have amplified student voices throughout every decision-making process, always placing students first. We have made equity a greater priority across the college, enabling us to truly and more deeply serve our community.”

Registration opens Monday, April 12 for summer and fall classes at HCC.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide.

In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering.

“In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University.

Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs.

“We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”

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HOLYOKE — It’s not too late to sign up for spring session classes at Holyoke Community College. The final round of HCC’s Spring Flex Start series, Spring Session III, begins Monday, March 29, and runs for seven weeks. All spring-semester courses conclude by Wednesday, May 12.

Students who enroll for Spring Session III have the opportunity to take a variety of different classes in a wide array of academic areas and can earn as many as four credits per course for a lab science, such as biology or forensic science.

These accelerated spring courses are being offered in anatomy and physiology, anthropology, biology, communication, Earth science, education, engineering, English, English as a second language, forensic science, history, human services, marketing, math, nutrition, philosophy, political science, psychology, social science, and sociology.

HCC introduced two Flexible Fall start dates last semester to accommodate students as they adjusted to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Full spring-semester classes started Jan. 25 and run for 14 weeks. Spring Session II classes began Feb. 16 and run for 12 weeks. HCC will continue to offer multiple start dates during the fall 2021 semester.

“Students who are unsure whether starting in March is possible for them should contact the HCC Admissions office to meet one-on-one with an Admissions counselor,” said Mark Hudgik, director of Admissions. “If the March 29 start date doesn’t work, HCC has two summer sessions that begin on June 1 and July 6.”

Most spring-session classes are still either fully online or blended remote, which means they include both asynchronous lessons and real-time virtual instruction. A full list of classes for Spring Session II and III can be viewed at hcc.edu/spring.

HCC also offers weekly online information sessions for prospective students. Visit hcc.edu/visit-campus for dates and times or to sign up.

For more information or to apply, visit hcc.edu/apply, call (413) 552-2321, e-mail [email protected], or visit hcc.edu and click on the ‘Chat Now’ box.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) student Miren Neyra Alcántara is the recipient of a Newman Civic Fellowship, which recognizes college leaders who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions to challenges facing communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

Alcántara will join 212 college students from 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Mexico to form the 2021 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows, a program administered by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit working to advance the public purposes of higher education. The Newman Civic Fellowship is a year-long program for students from Campus Compact member institutions.

Alcántara — who was a finalist earlier this year for BusinessWest’s People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact Award — is a Latinx studies major at HCC and president of the college’s Latinx Empowerment Assoc. The LEA Club, as it is otherwise known, recently launched a book drive to stock a ‘Little Free Library’ the club is putting together for low-income families in the Holyoke Flats, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

As LEA president, Alcántara spearheaded “Celebrating the Latinx Community,” a social-media campaign, and developed student-led panel discussions in collaboration with HCC’s Black Student Alliance and Holyoke’s Wistariahurst Museum.

She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the college’s Student Advisory Board. She works as a peer tutor and volunteers with community organizations including Climate Change Theater Action, Common Share Food Co-op, and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now. She also teaches English to Central American immigrants through a program called Planting Literacy, an HCC collaboration with Head Start in Springfield.

She was nominated for the award by two of her professors, Vanessa Martinez and Raúl Gutiérrez.

“We’re very proud of Miren,” said Gutiérrez, coordinator of HCC’s Latinx Studies program. “HCC is lucky to have her. Her academic endeavors combined with her involvement and leadership in the community make her a necessary agent of change. She truly embodies the essence of an activist scholar. Her academic abilities, compassion, and leadership make her exactly what is needed in this world.”

Alcántara plans to graduate from HCC in December.

“I am so excited about the fellowship and this opportunity,” she said. “I plan to continue working on the LEA Club’s Little Free Library project. We are hoping to expand on it, add some workshops with the children, and adapt it in a way it becomes sustainable through the years as more students join and continue the club. I am also continuing my work with immigrant advocacy and Planting Literacy, as well as my recent involvement as a volunteer with the Women of Color Health Equity collective.”

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BOSTON — Holyoke Community College (HCC) President Christina Royal is among the Massachusetts women featured in a photo exhibition and story project in the State House unveiled last month by Senate President Karen Spilka.

The photo exhibition on display in the Senate president’s office suite celebrates the often-unsung stories of women of color throughout Massachusetts’ history. “HERstory: Volume II” is the second installment of photos in the president’s suite to acknowledge the accomplishments of women with connections to Massachusetts.

“Every day I go to work in the State House, I am surrounded by paintings and photos of prominent men from Massachusetts’ history,” said Spilka, the third woman elected president of the Massachusetts State Senate. “The stories of the many, many incredible women who have contributed to this great Commonwealth — and our great nation — have too often been lost to history. It is therefore my great honor and privilege to help to tell their stories, and to make the faces that we see in the State House more representative of the rich diversity that make our state great.”

The exhibition features the photos of 91 women, ranging from 17th-century tribal leader Weetamoo and black landowner Zipporah Potter Atkins to living pioneers Justice Fernande Duffly, the first Asian-American to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter; and poet Amanda Gordon.

In 2017, Royal became HCC’s fourth president and the first woman to hold the position.

“I want to thank Senate President Spilka for creating the HERstory initiative,” Royal said. “This is a time for us to recognize that the lived experiences of women in the Commonwealth matter, and that we are a diverse group of women of different races, ethnicities, social classes, abilities, educational levels, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. I am proud to share my story as a multi-racial, queer woman so that girls and young women can see representation of themselves in society, and grow up believing in their limitless potential.”

Since the State House is currently closed to the public, a website containing photos and short biographies of each of the honorees can be found at malegislature.gov/statehouse/herstory.

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HOLYOKE — The spring 2021 semester officially began at Holyoke Community College (HCC) on Monday, Jan. 25, but prospective students still have two more opportunities to start classes in February and March.

Spring session II classes at HCC begin Tuesday, Feb. 16. Spring session III classes begin Monday, March 29.

“HCC introduced two ‘flexible fall’ start dates last semester to accommodate students as they adjusted to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and they were very popular,” said Mark Hudgik, HCC’s director of Admissions. “We decided to continue this spring with two flexible start dates for students who may not have been ready on Jan. 25.”

Classes starting on Feb. 16 run for 12 weeks, while those starting on March 29 run for seven. All spring-semester courses conclude by Wednesday, May 12.

Students who enroll for spring session II or III have the opportunity to take a variety of different classes in a wide array of academic areas, and can earn as many as four credits per course for a lab science, such as biology or forensic science.

These accelerated spring courses are being offered in anatomy and physiology, anthropology, biology, communication, culinary arts, Earth science, education, engineering, English, English as a second language, forensic science, history, human services, marketing, math, medical assisting, nutrition, philosophy, political science, psychology, social science, and sociology.

With the exception of culinary arts and medical assisting classes, which include in-person, on-campus components, all spring session II and III classes are either fully online or blended remote, which means they include both asynchronous lessons and real-time virtual instruction.

A full list of classes for spring session II and III can be viewed at hcc.edu/spring. For more information or to apply, visit hcc.edu/apply, call (413) 552-2321, e-mail [email protected], or go to the HCC website (hcc.edu) and click on the ‘chat now’ box.

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HOLYOKE — Luz Lopez, executive director of MetroCare of Springfield, and Annamarie Golden, director of Community Relations for Baystate Health, will be the featured presenters on Wednesday, Jan. 27, for the first Holyoke Community College (HCC) Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series of 2021.

The spring Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of January, February, March, April, and May.

Once a month, participants will join a group of women leaders to discuss current issues and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network of women leaders to help navigate their careers.

The theme of the first session is “Compassion Fatigue.”

“I think many of us are feeling exhausted from all the work and life adjustments we’ve had to make in 2020,” said Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development. “There couldn’t be a better time to get together with a small group of like-minded women to get feedback and professional support for the new year. Whether you’re at the beginning or middle of your career, this is a great opportunity to boost your outlook and skills.”

Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics.

On Feb. 24: Lynn Turner, coach and business strategist with Clear Vision Alliance Inc., and Moe Belliveau, executive director of the Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, will discuss “Maintaining Power and Grace with Glass Ceilings.”

On March 31, the topic will be “Women’s Leadership from a Male Perspective,” with presenters to be determined. The topic and presenters for April 28 are also to be determined.

On May 26, Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and Jess Roncarati-Howe, the organization’s program director, will discuss “Leading Through Change.”

Sessions cost $20 each, or $50 for the full, five-session series. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/leadership-luncheons.

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HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center (CEC) at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has added a second cannabis core training program to its spring calendar of workforce-training programs.

The CEC will offer another round of its intensive, two-day cannabis core training program on Saturday, March 20, and Sunday, March 21. Slots also remain open for the weekend of Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24.

Each day will be broken down into two sessions, 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. Each session will include presentations from cannabis-industry experts followed by a question-and-answer period.

Students who complete the core training are then eligible to register for spring 2021 classes in one of four cannabis-industry career tracks: cultivation assistant (Feb. 6-21); extraction technician (Feb. 27 to March 14); culinary assistant (April 3-18); and patient-service associate (Jan. 30 to Feb. 14, and May 1-16).

Cultivation assistants provide daily care of crops from seed to harvest and may be involved in cracking seeds, soil mixing, potting, defoliation, watering, pest control, and trimming.

Extraction technicians work in labs assisting production managers in all aspects of extraction, purging, oil manipulation, winterization, distillation, solvent recovery, and quality control.

Culinary assistants are responsible for preparing cannabis or cannabidiol-infused products using a variety of cooking, baking, and infusion techniques.

Patient-service associates work behind the counters at cannabis dispensaries, interacting with the public, answering technical questions, and providing information to registered cannabis patients, caregivers, and recreational customers making purchases.

To register for the January or March cannabis core training class, visit hcc.edu/cec-core. The cost of the two-day core-training session is $595. Each career-track program is $799.

The Cannabis Education Center is a partnership between HCC and Elevate Northeast and based out of HCC’s Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently welcomed Amy Brandt as its new dean of Health Sciences and Culinary Arts.

Brandt most recently worked as associate vice president and dean of Health Sciences at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., which is part of the State University of New York system.

At SUNY Broome, she focused on developing partnerships with local area hospitals to address healthcare-worker shortages and advocated for enhanced use of simulation to improve clinical education and position programs to remain current with emerging national trends in healthcare education.

At HCC, she will oversee seven academic programs: Foundations of Health, Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, Nursing (associate of science and practical), Radiologic Technology, Veterinary and Animal Science, and Culinary Arts.

Brandt holds a master’s degree in social work from California State University, Sacramento, and a Ph.D. in social work from the University of California Los Angeles. After earning her Ph.D., she began working in education, initially at the University of California Berkeley in the School of Social Welfare, where she focused on program administration and teaching introductory social-work courses. In 2007, she transitioned to the community-college setting in California, focusing on allied-health education, and she has worked on allied-health program development in California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

Brandt has extensive experience working with state regulatory agencies, as well as developing self-studies for programmatic accreditation. She has served as a site visitor for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, reviewing institutions for compliance with general education and educational-effectiveness standards.

She has collaborated with multiple programs on developing assessment plans to assess educational quality and delivery and has co-led a variety of different campus committees related to program review, general education, professional development, COVID-19 reopening, and student retention and equity initiatives.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Not long ago, Aidan Burke was working in a local supermarket, making pizza for minimum wage. It was not a job he believed held much promise for him. But life has changed a lot since then for the 29-year-old.

In February, Burke started a free, intensive cybersecurity training program for people with disabilities offered by Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). Ten months later, he is now poised to begin a career as a cybersecurity analyst.

“I liked working at Big Y, and I could pay my bills, but there was nothing I could really do with that,” he said. “Now I’m looking at positions that have salaries and benefits. That’s a big change for me. It’s fantastic. This class has just opened so many doors. It’s life-altering, or at least has the potential to be.”

Already, Burke has started an internship with NetWerks Strategic Services, an Agawam-based technology company. In recent weeks, he has interviewed for full-time positions with benefits at the Massachusetts Educational Collaborative and the Department of Youth Services. He is also a candidate for a summer internship with MassMutual.

“The opportunities are just so much bigger and better than what I had before,” he said. “I was kind of floundering a bit in terms of direction in my life, and now I have an opportunity to move up in the world.”

Burke and his 14 classmates completed the Cisco Academy Cybersecurity Training program on Dec. 10. They graduated Dec. 18, having passed their exams as Cisco certified network associates and Cisco certified cyber-operations associates.

“Mass Rehab has been very happy with the success of the students academically,” said Kermit Dunkelberg, HCC’s assistant vice president of Adult Basic Education and Workforce Development. “Ultimately, the goal is to get them placed in jobs, and we’re very optimistic because these students are very well-prepared.”

The HCC-MRC cybersecurity training program was the first of its kind in the state. Based on the success of the pilot, MRC initiated a second progam in September in collaboration with Roxbury Community College and has begun recruiting for a second class at HCC that will begin in February.

“Together we are re-envisioning employment and people’s lives,” MRC Commissioner Toni Wolf said. “In the wake of COVID-19, our perspective on what is possible for remote work is expanding on a daily basis, particularly how resilient and adaptive people with disabilities are and the transformative thinking on the future of work. These Cisco certifications are nationally recognized and highly sought-after workplace credentials that will give these students the needed leverage to enter a high-paying industry.”

Cybersecurity analysts are network watchdogs, monitoring network activity, tracking alerts, guarding against cyberattacks, and looking out for abnormal network behavior. They fix security problems, restore compromised systems, pinpoint conflicts, and collect evidence of criminal activity in the event of an intentional breach or legal proceeding.

“Cybercrime is up 600% due to the pandemic,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “There are a lot of bad actors looking to exploit network vulnerabilities, with costs estimated at $6 trillion in 2021. Cybersecurity is an important area that companies are needing and investing in.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Seats remain open for January 2021 classes at Holyoke Community College. HCC’s two-week Wintersession term runs from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 15. Students can earn from one to four credits by taking a single Wintersession course that lasts between five and 10 days.

HCC is offering 24 courses during Wintersession 2021 in 18 different academic areas of study: Anthropology, Business Administration, Communication, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Science, General Studies, Geography, Law, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Nutrition, Social Science, Sociology, and Sustainability. Because of ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, the majority of Wintersession classes at HCC are being offered remotely.

“Wintersession at HCC is a great way to earn course credits in a short amount of time — a whole semester’s worth in just 10 days,” said Mark Hudgik, director of Admissions. “With our remote and fully online options, students can use HCC’s January classes to get ahead, get back on track, or lighten their load for spring, and they can continue to do it from the comfort and safety of their homes.”

For schedules and full course descriptions or to enroll in Wintersession 2021, visit www.hcc.edu/wintersession.

Registration is also open for spring-semester classes at HCC. The spring 2021 semester begins on Monday, Jan. 25, with two additional, flexible spring start dates on Feb. 16 and March 29. To register for spring classes, visit hcc.edu/admission.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Past year got you down? Need a brighter outlook for 2021? Holyoke Community College has a class for you.

HCC is partnering with Pam Victor, president and founder of Happier Valley Comedy, to offer a Zoom workshop titled “Establishing Resilience: Building Happiness” on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Victor, a comedian and improv facilitator who prefers the title ‘head of happiness,’ will lead participants on an experiential exploration of happiness and resilience building to enhance their joy and ease at work and home. She will share stress-relieving exercises and techniques to help people bring more well-being, laughter, gratitude, and play into their daily lives.

“Finding more joy in 2021 is a priority for me,” said Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development. “As a participant in Pam’s 30-day ‘Happiness Experiment,’ I can tell you without doubt that this class is for everyone. In this single session, participants will get an introduction into the full program while Pam shares many useful tips and resources to help people get an uplifting start to the new year.”

The cost of the class is $99. To register, visit hcc.edu/happiness.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Building on the success of its popular Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, Holyoke Community College (HCC) is launching an eight-week training program for women who want to develop and enhance their leadership skills.

For convenience, the program, “Women Leaning Into Leadership 2021: Empowering Your Voice,” is being offered over Zoom in two separate, eight-week sessions. One meets on Wednesdays, Jan. 6 through Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., while the other meets on Thursdays, Jan. 7 through Feb. 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The interactive workshops will be facilitated by Annie Shibata, owner of Growth Mindset Leadership and Communication Coaching. Enrollment is limited by design. In addition to weekly 90-minute group seminars, each participant can schedule a private, 30-minute session of personalized coaching with the instructor.

“One critical component that makes this training special is the one-to-one coaching that each participant receives,” said Michele Cabral, HCC executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development. “The small-group nature of the classes will allow plenty of weekly individual attention in addition to the private sessions. This is really a wonderful way for women to invest in themselves and their futures in a small, mentored group environment.”

During the program sessions, participants will learn to evaluate their communication skills and apply new communication techniques, practice the power of mindfulness, distinguish forms of influence and persuasion to create powerful messages, assess their leadership strengths, and create short- and long-term plans for career development.

Shibata was the featured presenter during the November session of HCC’s 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series.

“HCC started the Women’s Leadership Series with the goal of creating small-group discussions for women as they navigate their careers,” said Cabral. “The series meets monthly over Zoom at lunchtime as a way to offer networking and mentoring to women at all levels. The ‘Women Leaning Into Leadership’ course takes that concept to the next level.”

To register for the Wednesday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-1. To register for the Thursday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-2.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Eleanor Williams, a lawyer who now works for MassMutual, has been appointed to the Holyoke Community College (HCC) board of trustees by Gov. Charlie Baker. Her term will expire on March 1, 2024.

“I am thrilled to be part of this amazing community of leaders who are striving to move forward the mission of Holyoke Community College,” Williams said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting President [Christina] Royal, and I look forward to building many positive relationships here for the benefit of the college, its students, and faculty.”

Williams attended her first HCC board meeting on Nov. 24 over Zoom.

“We are excited to welcome Attorney Williams to the HCC board of trustees,” Royal said. “Her extensive leadership experience at MassMutual and her appreciation for the role of community colleges, and specifically HCC in our region, will be invaluable to the board’s important work. I look forward to leveraging her expertise as HCC continues to strengthen its support for students, especially during this pandemic.”

Williams has worked for MassMutual since 2011, starting as assistant vice president and counsel in the company’s dispute-resolution group. From 2017 to 2019, she served as chief of staff to the executive vice president and was part of the senior leadership team. She is now the business leader working with the Product and Marketing business units to drive product development and efficiency.

Prior to that, she worked at Choate Hall & Stewart LLP in Boston as an associate in the law firm’s finance and restructuring practice group.

Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, a law degree from Boston College School of Law, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) was honored by the MassEVolves consortium for taking steps to expand the use of electric vehicles (EV) on campus.

The third annual MassEVolves recognition ceremony was held on Nov. 18 to highlight Massachusetts leaders in the adoption of electric vehicles. The virtual event was co-hosted by the national nonprofit Recharge America, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

HCC was one of 19 Massachusetts organizations and colleges singled out during the ceremony, including just three others from Western Mass.: Hampshire College, UMass Amherst, and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

“The work you are all doing is critical to the future of the Commonwealth and critical to us making this important transition” to the state’s goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050, EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said, adding that a key piece of “bending our emissions curve” will be electric vehicles.

To receive recognition, MassEVolves participants create and execute an EV action plan that outlines steps they are taking to help Massachusetts residents gain greater access to electric vehicles, which may include installing EV chargers, holding educational events, and more.

HCC has an EV station in the parking lot outside its Center for Health Education and Simulation on Jarvis Avenue in Holyoke along with spaces allocated for zero-emissions vehicles in the visitor parking lot by its Campus Center, where wiring already exists to install EV charging stations.

“We have been working with MassEVolves to come up with a plan to install more charging stations and encourage EV adoption,” said Narayan Sampath, HCC’s vice president of Administration and Finance. “We are also looking to purchase at least one electric vehicle with grants or subsidies from the state. These efforts are not only good for the environment but will also help us realize significant cost savings.”

Increasing the number of electric vehicles in Massachusetts is expected to revitalize local economies in Massachusetts and across the country. Recharge America has shown that EVs can deliver more than $1,000 per year, per vehicle in local economic-development benefit to communities where they reside.

“We congratulate each of our 2020 MassEVolves honorees for the work they’ve done and the commitments they’ve made toward the adoption of electric vehicles in Massachusetts,” said Kirk Brown, CEO of Recharge America. “The initiatives undertaken by MassEVolves participants will benefit their employees, customers, and all residents of the Commonwealth for the years and decades to come.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign.

HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative.

The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption.

“We realized pretty quickly that our students needed extra financial help and support to get through this stressful and challenging time,” said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, whose office spearheaded the campaign. “Community colleges serve some of the most vulnerable populations, and COVID-19 has amplified existing inequities in society and highlighted critical needs the ‘Together HCC’ campaign was created to help address. It’s very satisfying and encouraging to see the campaign celebrated as a national model.”

The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist.

“The Bellwether College Consortium prides itself on identifying and celebrating replicable, scalable, and results-based programs and models and disseminating these highly lauded examples of institutional success to peer institutions,” said Rose Martinez, director of the Bellwether College Consortium.

After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students.

For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

“Together HCC wasn’t just about providing financial support,” Sbriscia said. “It was also about providing moral support and reminding students and other members of the college community that we are all in this together.”

Finalists for Bellwether Awards are invited to join the consortium and take part in consortium workshops, events, and other activities. Award finalists will undergo a rigorous second and final round of review before the winners are announced at the virtual 2021 Community College Futures Assembly in January.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center at Holyoke Community College (HCC) will hold an online cannabis-industry roundtable for employers on Friday, Nov. 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. over Zoom.

Featured presenters will include representatives from Elevate Northeast, HCC’s community and workforce training partner, and officials from other Massachusetts-based cannabis businesses and organizations. They include Cara Burnham-Crabb, director of Education, Elevate Northeast; TaShonda Vincent Lee, director of Community Outreach, Elevate Northeast; Beth Waterfall, executive director, Elevate Northeast; Gene Ray, vice president of Laboratory Operations, Garden Remedies; Tim Shaw, chief operating officer, MariMed; and Marion McNabb, CEO and co-founder, Cannabis Community Care and Research Network.

Discussion will focus on workforce challenges, business outlook, and training needs of cannabis employers as well as the services, supports, and programs offered by the Cannabis Education Center. Breakout rooms will concentrate on specific industry areas, including cultivation, culinary, medical, retail, and processing.

To register for the roundtable, visit hcc.edu/cannatable-11-20.

The Cannabis Education Center has also announced its spring training programs for people who want to work in the cannabis industry. The center will offer an intensive, two-day Cannabis Core Training program over Zoom on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, 2021. Students who complete the core training can then register for spring 2021 classes in one of four cannabis industry career tracks: Cultivation Assistant (Feb. 6-21), Extraction Technician (Feb. 27 to March 14), Culinary Assistant (April 3-18), and Patient Services Associate (May 1-16).

The cost of the two-day core training session is $595. Each career-track program is $799. To register for the January Cannabis Core Training class, visit hcc.edu/cannabis-core.

Women of Impact 2020

President, Holyoke Community College

The Pandemic Provides a Lens Through Which to View Her Leadership Skills

Christina Royal

Christina Royal

As she talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and her administration’s multi-leveled response to it, Christina Royal related a story that speaks volumes about both the impact of the crisis on every aspect of the higher-education experience at Holyoke Community College (HCC) and her own efforts to lead this institution through it — and beyond it.

It also helps explain why she’s been named a Woman of Impact for 2020.

This story is about a student, one of the many who needed some help with learning virtually from home — help that went beyond providing a laptop and internet connectivity.

“Through our student emergency fund, this student put in a request and said, ‘I’m so grateful for the college to provide a laptop for me … but I don’t have a desk,’” she recalled, adding that there were several people in this household suddenly faced with the challenge of trying to learn and work from home. “And that’s just one example of how we had to think about support at a deeper level, really dive into the individual needs of each of our students to support them during this time, and address the inequities that exist in the communities we serve.”

The college would go on to fund a desk for this individual, she went on, adding that this piece of furniture is symbolic of how the school has indeed expanded its view of student emergency needs during this pandemic — but also in general.

“One of the questions I bring up to employees of the college is, ‘what do we want to look like on the other side of this pandemic?’ Because I don’t want to be a person who just felt like I was trying to weather the storm. I want us to emerge stronger from this.”

Royal arrived on campus roughly five years ago with a mindset to do what was needed to address the many needs of students and help enable them to not only grasp the opportunity for a two-year college education, but to open many other doors as well. As a first-generation, low-income, biracial college student herself, she understands the challenges many of HCC’s students face — from food insecurity to lack of adequate housing and transportation — and she commits many of her waking hours thinking about how to help students overcome such barriers and achieve success, however that might be defined.

Meanwhile, as an administrator, she he has put the emphasis on long-term planning and leading for today, as well as tomorrow. This is evidenced by her push for a new strategic plan for the school — the first in its existence — but also the manner in which she is addressing this pandemic.

Instead of something to be merely survived, although that is certainly important enough, she views it as a learning experience and, in many respects, an opportunity.

“One of the questions I bring up to employees of the college is, ‘what do we want to look like on the other side of this pandemic?’” she explained. “Because I don’t want to be a person who just felt like I was trying to weather the storm. I want us to emerge stronger from this, and the work we have to do is so absolutely critical to this community, and we have an opportunity to continually strengthen ourselves.

Christina Royal meets with students at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, which opened its doors in 2019.

Christina Royal meets with students at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, which opened its doors in 2019.

“Just like education is a journey, so is continuous improvement,” she went on, adding that this process can — and must — continue, even in the middle of a global pandemic.

Her commitment to this process, and her ability to effectively keep one eye on the present and the other on the future, certainly makes her a Women of Impact.

 

Course of Action

Royal calls them ‘town meetings.’

These are Zoom sessions that she conducts with various audiences — students, faculty, members of the community — to keep them abreast of new developments and initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the college in general. She’s staged 19 of them since March, including one just a few weeks ago in which the topic of conversation among faculty and staff was the ongoing accreditation process and the comments offered by the team at the New England Commission of Higher Education.

“I really prioritized this as part of our crisis-management plan — we really had to increase communication at the college,” she told BusinessWest. “When people are feeling isolated in their homes, and they’re uncertain about this thing called COVID, and they’re uncertain about their own health and safety, and they’re concerned about the college, I felt it was really important to come together.

“And while it’s really nice when we can come together in the same room, community is community, and we need to bring people together to feel a sense of community through this,” she said, adding that another initiative she’s implemented is the formation of a volunteer team of students and staff tasked with calling every student enrolled at the school every week “just to check in and see how they’re doing.”

These town meetings and weekly check-ins are just some of the ways Royal is providing both stewardship and forward thinking at a time when every college administrator’s abilities are being sternly tested. And the pandemic provides a lens through which her leadership skills and ability to build partnerships and create collaborative initiatives can be seen.

But first, we need to talk about life before anyone had ever heard the phrase COVID-19.

Royal became just the fourth president in HCC’s history in early 2017 after a stint as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

In an interview with BusinessWest soon after taking the helm, she provided some clear evidence of both her empathy for students and commitment to creating ever-stronger ties between the school and the communites it serves.

“I have a phrase that I’ve used often during my career — that ‘it takes a village to raise a student,’” she noted at the time. “And I really believe that having partnerships with business and industry and the community is essential for an institution of higher education to thrive. Likewise, for a community with a community college to thrive, it needs to have a strong community college. I look at it as a bi-directional relationship and partnership.”

Since her arrival, there have been a number of significant developments at the school, including a $44 million project to modernize and revitalize an antiquated Campus Center, the so-called ‘heart’ of the college, a new Center for Life Sciences, and the creation of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute in the Cubit building, which opened its doors to considerable fanfare in early 2019.

Christina Royal leads Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on a tour of HCC

Christina Royal leads Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on a tour of HCC’s new, $44 million Campus Center earlier this year.

Ironically, the new campus center staged its elaborate grand opening just a few weeks before the pandemic shut down college campuses across the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, the Culinary Arts Institute, while still operating on some levels, has seen a dramatic decrease in interest among prospective students as the pandemic has devastated the hospitality industry.

But while those new facilities are in many ways quiet, they form some of the building blocks that will support continued growth for decades to come.

No one can say with any degree of certainly when a sense of ‘normal’ will return to college campuses — HCC has already announced that most all classes will be taught remotely next spring — but Royal, as noted, is working to have her school ready for that day.

“I want us to look at this moment in time as an opportunity, and focus not just on the things that are outside of our control, but the things that we do have the ability to control,” she explained, noting that the questions and comments offered by students during those aforementioned check-ins are certainly helping in this process of continuous improvement and readying for life after COVID-19.

“When that day arrives, there will be a much-anticipated return to the classroom,” she noted, adding quickly, however, that the pandemic has proven there is certainly a place for remote learning and that it will be a big part of the equation moving forward.

“Distance learning is here to stay. And even if we have a smaller number of students on one end of the spectrum, wanting to take everything online, we have a lot of opportunity in that middle space of how we blend our in-person courses with hybrid learning.

“What’s so great about this time is that we have faculty members who are experimenting with ways to utilize this technology to more effectively reach their students and enable them to complete the work,” she went on. “And when you think about combining that with the pedagogy of the traditional classroom and their expertise in that setting, I imagine there’s going to be some wonderful opportunities to grow the blended student experience.”

 

Career Milestone

In 2021, HCC will celebrate its 75th anniversary.

At this time, no one, including Royal, can say when and how that milestone will be celebrated. But she does know it will be a time to look back at what’s been achieved, but, more importantly, focus on what will come next and how the school can do more to serve its communities and its students.

That’s what Royal has done since she’s arrived in Holyoke. It’s a mindset that has made her a great leader — at all times, and especially during these times.

And it has also made her one of this year’s Women of Impact.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Registration is now open for January and spring 2021 semester classes at Holyoke Community College.

HCC’s two-week January term, called Wintersession, begins Monday, Jan. 4, and runs until Friday, Jan. 15. The spring 2021 semester begins Monday, Jan. 25.

HCC will also once again be offering two additional, flexible start dates for the spring semester. Spring Start II classes begin Feb. 16 and run for 12 weeks. Spring Start III classes begin March 29 and run for seven weeks. All spring classes conclude by Wednesday, May 12.

“Our flexible fall start dates were very popular with students who were not ready to begin classes at the traditional time in early September because of uncertainties surrounding the pandemic,” said Mark Hudgik, director of Admissions. “For spring, we wanted to again offer flexible start dates to give students as many opportunities as possible to either begin or continue their college educations.”

Because of ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, HCC will continue to offer the majority of its classes remotely through the 2021 spring semester.

Like most colleges, HCC started remote instruction in mid-March after the pandemic forced campus closures. This fall, all HCC classes are being offered in one of three formats: online, blended remote, and blended face-to-face. Wintersession and spring-semester classes will follow these same formats.

Online courses offer a traditional, asynchronous online model with coursework deadlines established by instructors. Blended remote courses have both asynchronous online components combined with real-time scheduled class meetings via videoconference platforms such as Zoom. Blended face-to-face combines blended remote with some in-person instruction on campus. For the most part, this format is limited to health-science programs that require clinical labs, such as nursing, radiologic technology, veterinary technician, and medical assistant.

Last month, HCC also started offering some of its culinary-arts classes face to face in the kitchens of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street in downtown Holyoke.

To see HCC’s Wintersession and spring class offerings, visit hcc.edu/class-schedule. To register for classes, please visit hcc.edu/admissions.

Daily News

HOLYOKE ­— Nursing Process, a national online guide to healthcare education, ranked the registered nursing program at Holyoke Community College (HCC) as the best of its kind in Western Mass.

In its nursing-school rankings for 2020, Nursing Process lists HCC’s program fifth overall out of the 60 accedited associate-degree nursing programs in Massachusetts that it considered for review, according to the independent organization’s website. HCC’s associate of science in nursing program was the highest-ranked community-college nursing program in the four counties of Western Mass. Graduates of the ASN program qualify to take the NCLEX-RN test to become licensed as registered nurses.

“We’re grateful for the recognition,” said Clare Lamontagne, dean of Health Sciences at HCC. “We take great pride in our nursing program at HCC and work very hard to make sure we offer our students an unparalleled educational experience.”

According to its website, Nursing Process considers factors such as graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, affordability, reputation, and NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate in its ranking methodology.

HCC’s nursing programs — associate of science in nursing and practical nursing — are based in the Center for Health Education & Simulation, a state-of-the-art education and training facility the college opened in 2015.

For anyone interested in nursing or one of HCC’s other health-science programs — foundations of health, radiologic technology, or veterinary technician — the college will be holding health-career information sessions over Zoom on Thursday. Nov. 5, and Thursday, Dec. 3, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up for a session, visit hcc.edu/info-sessions or e-mail [email protected].

Registration begins Monday, Nov. 2 for HCC’s two-week January Wintersession and the spring 2020 semester.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — As World Mental Health Day was recognized last week, Holyoke Community College (HCC) announced it has joined the JED Campus network in support of student well-being and mental health.

JED Campus is a nationwide initiative of the New York-based Jed Foundation designed to help schools evaluate and strengthen their mental-health, substance-misuse, and suicide-prevention programs and systems to ensure that schools have the strongest possible mental-health safety nets.

HCC was also one of six schools nationwide selected for an inaugural scholarship from the JED Foundation to strengthen student-support programs promoting mental-health awareness and suicide prevention.

“This is a critical time for young people in our nation as they cope with the current pandemic, ongoing issues around racial equity, and the regular pressures of transitioning into adulthood,” said John MacPhee, executive director and CEO of the JED Foundation. “We believe that working with high schools, colleges, and universities to invest in real-life systems that strengthen mental-health safety nets and foster a community of caring for students is more important than ever. By joining JED Campus, HCC is demonstrating a commitment to the emotional well-being of its students.”

JED campuses embark on a multi-year strategic collaboration that not only assesses and enhances the work already being done, but also helps create positive, lasting, systemic change in the campus community. JED Campus advisors work closely with these schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, programs, and policy assessment with customized support to build upon each institution’s existing structures.

HCC’s JED Campus team includes students, faculty, and staff. The $20,000 scholarship will remediate a large portion of the JED Campus fees.

“Mental-health concerns continue to rise among young people and college students, particularly now as we remain in the throes of a pandemic,” said Rachel Rubinstein, HCC vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. “As a Hispanic-serving institution, with students who are predominantly first-generation, low-income, or people of color, our students are particularly vulnerable to the health and economic effects of the pandemic, and the mental health of our regional communities is of profound concern to us. The foundation’s gift, along with the expertise and guidance of JED advisors, will help us make the sustainable change that is needed to support our students’ well-being and success.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College will continue to offer the majority of its classes remotely through the 2021 spring semester, HCC President Christina Royal announced in a message to students, faculty, and staff.

“So much has happened over the course of the last several months,” Royal said. “Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how our world will change from one day to the next. It is difficult to predict what life will look like for HCC months from now. However, we are preparing and planning as best we can for every possible scenario.”

In her message, Royal said that, “out of an abundance of caution,” HCC will continue to operate primarily remotely for the spring 2021 semester, with the vast majority of courses offered in a remote or hybrid environment.

“We anticipate that no more than 10% of courses offered this spring will be held on campus,” she added. “In every case, plans for offering face-to-face courses will be reviewed by the college’s Return to Campus Task Force to ensure that health and safety protocols are in place.”

Royal noted that it was important to make this decision now because registration begins Monday, Nov. 2 for HCC’s two-week January term and the spring 2021 semester. Registration and course materials must be prepared in advance of that date, so students have time to make informed decisions about their classes.

HCC’s January term, called Wintersession, begins Monday, Jan. 4. The spring 2021 semester begins Monday, Jan. 25. HCC will also be offering flexible spring start dates on Feb. 16 and March 29.

“This is a challenging time,” Royal said, “but our community is meeting it with resilience, creativity, and determination. I appreciate your flexibility and understanding as we navigate this time together. Supporting and inspiring our students remains our top priority today and always.”

Like most colleges, HCC started remote instruction in mid-March after the COVID-19 pandemic forced campus closures. This fall, all HCC classes are being offered in one of three formats: online, blended remote, and blended face-to-face.

Online courses follow a traditional, asynchronous online model with coursework deadlines established by instructors. Blended remote courses have asynchronous online components combined with real-time scheduled class meetings via videoconference platforms such as Zoom.

Blended face-to-face combines blended remote with some in-person instruction on campus. For the most part, this format is limited to health science programs that require clinical labs, such as nursing, radiologic technology, veterinary technician, and medical assistant.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and its new community partner, Elevate Northeast, are launching a revitalized cannabis careers training program in October for those who want to work in the industry.

The program, offered through the Cannabis Education Center, begins the weekend of Oct. 17-18 with two days of required core curriculum training over Zoom. The cost of the two-day core training session is $595. To register, visit hcc.edu/cannabis-core.

Each day will be broken down into two sessions: 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. Each session will include presentations from cannabis-industry experts followed by a question-and-answer period.

Students who complete the core training will then be eligible to register for spring 2021 classes in one of four cannabis-industry career tracks: cultivation assistant, extraction technician, patient-services associate, or culinary assistant.

Cultivation assistants provide daily care of crops from seed to harvest and may be involved in cracking seeds, soil mixing, potting, defoliation, watering, pest control, and trimming.

Extraction technicians work in labs, assisting production managers in all aspects of extraction, purging, oil manipulation, winterization, distillation, solvent recovery, and quality control.

Patient-service associates work behind the counters at cannabis dispensaries, interacting with the public, answering technical questions, and providing information to registered cannabis patients, caregivers, and recreational customers making purchases.

Culinary assistants are responsible for preparing cannabis or cannabidiol-infused products using a variety of cooking, baking, and infusion techniques.

A previous series of cannabis-industry training courses offered by HCC and the Cannabis Education Center were suspended in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“HCC is proud to partner with Elevate for the sole purpose of helping job seekers get the training they need to successfully enter the cannabis industry,” said Jeffrey Hayden, HCC’s vice president of Business and Community Services. “At the same time, we look forward to enhancing and expanding our relationships with cannabis companies in Holyoke and other communities throughout the region. Our goal is to help individuals gain employment while meeting the demand of area businesses.”

Dates for the spring career-track training sessions have not yet been announced.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month during this pandemic year with a series of online events that includes cooking demonstrations, lectures on the ethnic and political history of Holyoke, exhibits and conversations on public art, and a student panel examining the shared heritage of black and Latinx people.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 25, four members of the HCC community will share favorite recipes highlighting their ethnic heritage, followed by question-and-answer sessions with the chefs. Raúl Gutiérrez, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of HCC’s Latinx Studies program, will kick off the cooking series on Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. He will be followed by Harold Santiago, special program coordinator in HCC’s Admissions office, on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 11 a.m.; HCC student Liuginsa Rosa on Monday, Oct. 5 at 1:30 p.m.; and HCC Math instructor Aida Medianero on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m.

“Each of the four cooks represents a different nationality,” said Derek Estrella, an HCC Financial Aid counselor and secretary for the college’s Hispanic Leadership Committee, which organized the Heritage Month events. “Raúl is Mexican, Harold is Puerto Rican, Liuginsa is Dominican, and Aida Perúvian. I’m also asking them to share a signature song they grew up with while cooking.”

Also on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to share their ideas for “El Corazón de Holyoke: Comenzamos!” (“The Heart of Holyoke: Let’s Begin”), kicking off a new phase of public art installations that celebrate Latinx and Puerto Rican artists and culture in the city.

On Wednesday, Sept 30 from 11 a.m. to noon, Holyoke resident and HCC alumna Maria Cartagena, Five College Community Partnerships coordinator, will present “History of Holyoke: Political Landscape,” focusing on the ethnic, cultural, and political influence of Hispanics in the city.

The “El Corazón de Holyoke” conversation continues on Thursday, Oct. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. with “Cultural Place-keeping and the ‘Salsa’ of Public Art,” a presentation and Q & A with Cultural Districts Program manager Luis Cotto from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Springfield Poet Laureate Magdalena Gómez, and interdisciplinary artist Shey Rivera Rios.

HCC’s Hispanic leadership committee, a newly formed group of HCC staff and faculty involved in campus and community engagement activities, will hold an online session on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 2 to 3 p.m. introducing themselves to the college and wider Holyoke community.

The college’s Hispanic Heritage Month’s activities will conclude with “Anti-blackness in the Hispanic Community” on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a student panel discussion examining racial bias as well as the shared heritage of black and Latinx people. The panel will consist of members from two HCC student clubs, the Black Student Alliance and the Latinx Empowerment Assoc., and moderated by Rockell Bartoli, a Miami-based author and student-success coach.

All events will be held on Zoom. They are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/hhm.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $1 million to continue educating and training early-childhood educators and supporting the programs they work for in Western Mass.

Both the Career Pathways Grant, for $680,000, and the Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant, for $360,000, come from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which licenses public and private childcare programs in the state.

“These grants come at a very important time as childcare programs reopen and adjust to new guidelines instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kimm Quinlan, director of HCC’s Early Childhood Grant Initiatives.

HCC is the lead agent on a six-month Career Pathways Grant that will allow the college to continue its free Childhood Development Associate Plus (CDA-Plus) certificate program. The program was created to help early-childhood educators already working in the field attain their national CDA credential or enhance their certification level, and is offered at no cost to participants.

Greenfield Community College and Berkshire Community College are HCC’s partners in the Western Mass. consortium. The three colleges each have their own CDA-Plus programs and collaborate on implementation and support.

“The $680,000 is a six-month allocation for the three colleges in the consortium,” Quinlan said. “We’re hoping to get an additional $680,000 for the following six months.”

HCC launched its CDA-Plus program in 2019 after an initial, year-long grant of $2 million to the consortium from the EEC. Students who complete the program are awarded a CDA-Plus certificate and can apply the credits they earn toward an associate degree in early childhood education from HCC.

The two-semester course of study includes four sequential, seven-week courses in subjects such as childhood behavior and development; early-childhood programs; and health, safety, and nutrition. The grant covers all tuition, fees, books, and a $425 CDA credentialing fee, and includes a stipend of about $500 for unexpected costs.

HCC graduated its first class of CDA-Plus students in June. A second group started in January 2020 and will complete their program in November. The new funding will pay for a third class set to begin their studies this month. All the classes were originally designed as hybrid courses, with both online and face-to-face components, but shifted to completely remote in mid-March due to the pandemic.

“All of our students are supposed to be working in the field, and they all found themselves not working in the field very quickly, so it has been quite a transition for them,” Quinlan said. “Some of them have gone back to work. Some of their programs did not reopen. Some of them will be going back to work very soon, and there were some whose businesses did continue to operate as emergency childcare facilities for essential workers.”

The $360,000 Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant follows an initial award in 2019, establishing HCC as the EEC’s professional-development center for Western Mass.

Last year, HCC, working with UMass Boston as the lead agent, offered a series of workshops on and off campus to provide training, coaching, and technical assistance to early-childhood programs. This time, the program was completely revamped due to the pandemic.

“Instead of doing universal trainings, our work this year is focused on supporting programs that are going through the reopening process,” Quinlan said. “So our focus this year is to help them reopen and then to help them successfully implement the new guidelines related to COVID-19.”

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HOLYOKE — Tanisha Arena, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Arise for Social Justice, and Pam Victor, owner of Happier Valley Comedy, will be the featured presenters on Wednesday, Sept. 30, during the third session of the 2020 Virtual Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series.

Arena and Victor will present “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice” from noon to 1 p.m. over Zoom.

The series, postponed from spring because of COVID-19, is sponsored by Holyoke Community College and Training and Workforce Options, a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Each of four lunchtime events features two presenters leading discussions on different topics.

For the final session on Oct. 28, Colleen Loveless, president and CEO of Revitalize Community Development Corp., and Nicole Palange, vice president of V&F Auto, will lead a discussion titled “Women Leaders in Non-traditional Businesses.”

HCC President Christina Royal and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, led off the reimagined monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series on July 29 with a session on “Leading Through Change.”

“Empowering Women in the Workplace” was the theme of the second session, led by Denise Jordan, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, and Julie Quink, managing partner of Burkhart Pizzanelli, P.C.

Each session costs $20, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

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HOLYOKE — Given the uncertainty of the times heading into a new school year, Holyoke Community College (HCC) is offering two “Flexible Fall” start dates in addition to its traditional fall semester start next week following Labor Day.

For most students, the fall semester at HCC will begin Tuesday, Sept. 8. For those looking for more flexible academic options, however, HCC is also running two sessions of accelerated, full-credit classes that will begin on Monday, Sept. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Sept. 28 start classes will run for 12 weeks. Oct. 28 start classes will run for seven weeks. All fall courses will conclude by Dec. 16.

“We know how unsettled everyone’s lives are due to the pandemic, especially the lives of families juggling jobs and childcare and parents who may not yet know where they will be working or where their children will be for school,” said Rachel Rubinstein, HCC’s vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. “We hope that, by offering more flexible fall options, students will be able to find a schedule that works best for them, and that students who need to delay decisions about college can do so without fear that they will miss out on an entire semester.”

The late-start courses are being offered in accounting, anthropology, biology, business administration, career readiness, communication, education, economics, English, health, math, psychology, sociology, and sustainability.

No matter the start date, all HCC classes this fall are being offered in one of three formats: online, blended remote, and blended face-to-face. Online courses follow a traditional, asynchronous online model with coursework deadlines established by instructors. Blended remote courses have both asynchronous online components combined with scheduled class meetings via videoconference platforms such as Zoom.

Blended face-to-face combines blended remote with some in-person instruction on campus. This format is limited to culinary arts and health-science programs that require clinical assessments: nursing, radiologic technology, veterinary technician, and medical assistant.

Registrations are still being accepted for all three fall start dates. For more information or to apply, visit hcc.edu/fall, call (413) 552-2321 or e-mail [email protected].

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will enable students majoring in STEM fields to qualify for scholarships of as much as $6,500 a year toward tuition and fees.

The scholarships are open to current and incoming HCC students enrolled full-time or part-time in chemistry, biology, biotechnology, environmental science, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, or other STEM areas of study.

Students selected for the scholarship awards will become part of HCC’s STEM Scholars 2.0 program. HCC started a STEM Scholars program in 2015 after receiving its first five-year STEM grant from the National Science Foundation.

“We are really excited to be re-funded for this program so we can continue and expand the work that we’ve been doing for the past five years,” said Ileana Vasu, professor of Math and coordinator of HCC’s STEM Scholars program. “The grant not only provides significant money to students for college, but will enable us to focus on culturally relevant practices in STEM that will help us work toward equity in education for all members of our community.”

HCC STEM Scholars are required to complete a one-credit STEM seminar each semester and attend several STEM events each semester they are enrolled in the program. The NSF STEM Scholarships continue each semester students remain in good academic standing.

The scholarship application deadline for the 2020-21 academic year is Friday, Sept. 4. Awards will be announced by Tuesday, Sept. 8, the first day of classes of the fall 2020 semester.

Applicants must be enrolled in a STEM program, demonstrate academic ability or potential, and demonstrate financial need. Full eligibility guidelines for the NSF Scholarship in STEM, as well as a link to the online application, can be found at hcc.edu/stem-scholarship.

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HOLYOKE — Cannabis cultivation, beer and cider brewing, and winemaking are just a few of the new academic programs being offered this fall at Holyoke Community College (HCC).

All three were developed as one-year, 24-credit certificate programs through the college’s Sustainability Studies department.

“As the cannabis industry has moved into Holyoke and other area towns, a number of the owners of these enterprises are asking for trained employees,” said Kate Maiolatesi, chair of HCC’s Sustainability Studies program. “Estimates for new cannabis jobs in the region range as high as 1,500.”

One new course, “Cannabis Today,” provides knowledge of the growing part of the industry. Other requirements for the certificate include classes in agriculture, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Maiolatesi said the college also developed the brewing and winemaking certificates with an eye on expanding industries. Another new course, “Fermentation Science,” explains the scientific processes of fermentation as it applies to both brewing and winemaking.

This fall, HCC is also unveiling new certificate and associate-degree programs in a range of other academic areas, including behaviorial neuroscience (degree), critical social thought (degree), geoscience (degree), child development (certificate), mental health (certiificate,) and veterinary assistant (certificate).

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, HCC continues to be innovative in creating new courses and programs that will set students up to either immediately enter the workforce or prepare them for transfer to four-year schools,” said Rachel Rubinstein, HCC’s vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

The fall semester at Holyoke Community College begins Tuesday, Sept. 8. To enroll for fall, visit hcc.edu/admission, call (413) 552-2321, or e-mail [email protected].

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HOLYOKE — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently visited Holyoke Community College (HCC) to announce the awarding of a four-year, $1.89 million federal grant aimed at helping families impacted by opioid use.

The funds — $399,676 in the first year — will enhance HCC’s existing Community Health Worker training program with the goal of increasing the number of CHWs qualified to work on integrated opioid-use disorder teams in area health centers in medically underserved communities.

The grant comes from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We all know someone who suffers from this epidemic,” Neal said during a press event outside the HCC Campus Center. “This disease touches all people from all walks of life. We must continue to work together to combat this critical public-health and safety issue, and I am grateful for the good work HCC continues to do in this realm.”

HRSA’s Opioid-impacted Family Support Program supports training programs that enhance and expand paraprofessionals’ knowledge, skills, and expertise. It aims to increase the number of peer-support specialists and other behavioral-health-related paraprofessionals who work on interprofessional teams to provide services to children whose parents are impacted by opioid-use disorders and other substance-use disorders, as well as their family members in guardianship roles.

HCC’s partners in the grant project include Behavioral Health Network, Holyoke Health Center, and the MassHire Hampden Country Workforce Board.

“Funding to launch this new program could not come at a more critical time for our community and economy,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “COVID-19 has made clear how essential community health workers are in addressing the wide range of physical, behavioral, and mental-health issues faced by members of our community. Through this program and with our partners, we will not only have the ability to support more families struggling with substance use, but we will also be creating more jobs in a sector central to our region’s economic growth.”

Community health is an emerging healthcare field and community health workers are typically employed by agencies to focus on underserved populations, conducting home visits and connecting clients with needed services. They do not provide medical care.

Five years ago, HCC became one of the first colleges in Massachusetts to offer a community health worker certificate program, part of the college’s Foundations of Health program.

The funding from the latest grant will provide training for an additional 100 individuals (25 students and incumbent workers each academic year for four years) as CHWs in Western Mass. Each participant will receive $3,000 to help defray the cost of tuition, fees, and supplies, and a $5,000 stipend while in Level 1 training.

The grant will also allow for the creation of a registered apprenticeship program with HCC’s partners that will be the first of its kind in Western Mass. Students who enter an apprenticeship after they finish training are eligible for an annual stipend of $7,500.

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HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, will kick off a reimagined monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series on Wednesday, July 29.

The 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, postponed from spring due to COVID-19, will now take place virtually over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of July, August, September, and October from noon to 1 p.m.

The series is sponsored by HCC and Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College.

“Women leaders and up-and-comers will be joined by panels of like-minded women each month for small group discussions and open dialogue,” said Tracye Whitfield, TWO’s director of Business Development. “Participants will have the opportunity to form a supportive network of women leaders, discuss topics of interest, and enjoy a brown-bag lunch, virtually. Professional development, networking, and socialization over a delicious meal — does it get any better?”

Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics, as follows:

• July 29: “Leading Through Change,” with Royal and Sbriscia.

• Aug. 26: “Empowering Women in the Workplace,” with Denise Jordan, executive director, Springfield Housing Authority; and Julie Quink, managing partner, Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C.

• Sept. 30: “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice,” with Tanisha Arena, executive director, Arise for Social Justice; and Pam Victor, owner, Happier Valley Comedy.

• Oct. 28: “Women Leaders in Non-Traditional Businesses,” with Colleen Loveless, president and CEO, Revitalize Community Development Corp.; and Nicole Palange, vice president, V&F Auto.

The July 29 session is free. The remaining three sessions are $20 each, or $50 for the full series. Registration is required. Space for each luncheon is limited to 25. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

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HOLYOKE — After COVID-19 broke, applications to the President’s Student Emergency Fund at Holyoke Community College (HCC) soared. The fund, established by President Christina Royal through the HCC Foundation, is meant to assist students facing unanticipated financial burdens, such as a lack of affordable housing, childcare expenses, and transportation.

For the 2019-20 academic year, 93% of student requests to the fund have come since mid-March. As HCC transitioned to remote learning, nearly $25,000 has been distributed to help students facing income loss and struggling to pay their bills in the midst of the pandemic.

“We are talking about an average gift of $500,” said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising corporation. “That is often the difference between staying on a path to a college degree or never being able to return to the classroom. Studying and learning remotely has meant added an unanticipated expenses for our students. Faster internet, upgraded technology, housing and food costs, utility bills — seemingly simple shifts in daily life are easy to manage for some, but for many HCC students, they can derail their entire education.”

This week, the President’s Student Emergency Fund at HCC received a $35,000 boost in the form of a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) designated for COVID-19 relief. The HCC Foundation was one of 29 area nonprofits receiving financial assistance in the latest round of COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation.

“You are receiving this grant thanks in part to funding from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund,” Jim Ayres, CFWM vice president for Programs & Strategy, said in an e-mail to Sbriscia. “The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund works in concert with regional community foundations and nonprofit leaders to support those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, focusing on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations, including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities, and those facing food insecurity.”

With the Community Foundation grant, the HCC Foundation has now raised $72,480 for the President’s Student Emergency Fund since late March when it launched the “TogetherHCC” fundraising campaign in response to the pandemic, placing the total amount of dollars available for student relief at $190,000.

The largest single donation to the campaign was $20,000 from HCC alumna Margaret “Peg” Wendlandt (’58) and her husband, Gary, who have supported the emergency fund since it was established three years ago. The rest of the contributions have come in much smaller increments from 160 individual donors and area businesses.

“We are so grateful to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, our alumni, and HCC employees and friends for believing in the power of our emergency fund to help our students,” Sbriscia said. “In one way or another, all our students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sense of relief and comfort we’re able to provide thanks to the generosity of so many is honestly life-changing for them.”