1,104 students graduated from HCC on May 28, the college's largest graduating class yet. Here are stories of three members of the Class of 2011. There are 1,101 more to be told!
Aaron Cope, 23, of Springfield, headed to a four-year college after graduating from high school, but by the end of his first year, he dropped out. "I was younger than a lot of my friends, and wasn't mature enough or focused enough," he said. He worked for several years, but when he was laid off, he decided it was time to try again.
Andrew DelValle, 20, had been held back in the ninth grade three times, and was about to drop out when he learned of Holyoke Community College's Gateway to College program that allows students to take high school and college courses at the same time. That was in 2008. On May 28, he was one of two high-achieving members of the Class of 2011 who spoke at commencement.
Priscilla Rivera, 27, of Chicopee, was a single 24-year-old high school dropout whose only concerns were working, traveling and partying, when she stepped up to care for her sister's six children. "I didn't know how to be a mother. I didn't even know how to change a diaper. What I did know is I wouldn't let them be split up." She also knew she had to make a better life for them all.