Vanessa Alexander photograph

Vanessa Alexander


Born in Springfield, resides in Chicopee



Favorite class:

Movement for Actors with Sheryl Stoodley. I made a lot of new friends and was able to express myself in ways I wasn't sure I would be able to.

Meaningful encounters at HCC:

Taking part in the Faculty Senate meeting and receiving a round of applause from all the teachers after I spoke. You are told you have a voice at HCC, but I've actually experienced it. I spoke to the Faculty Senate about community service projects and goals and the teachers really embraced me after. I felt really significant, that they were actually listening. 

Why does education matter to you?

Being able to get an education and graduate from college despite my disability means the world to me. I have sickle cell anemia. School is  hard for me because I sometimes have to spend weeks at a time in the hospital.It's supposedly a fatal disorder. The life expectancy is 40. On paper, I'm pretty sick, but I don't feel like that. I live day to day.  

What is your favorite thing about HCC?

The understanding staff and teachers, in particular Sociology professor Penelope Herideen. She's an amazing teacher and very understanding, as well as Patricia Bonneau, who teaches psychology. And Diane Beers, great. Of course, I ran into a few teachers who were not as understanding as I would like them to be, but the teachers who have been willing to work with me are great.

Where are you going from here?

I am definitely going on to get my bachelor's degree. I hope to become a child psychologist and analyze children through play.


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 538-7000