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March 2023 News Blog

DATE: Wednesday, March 1, 2023

News briefs from the HCC campus and beyond

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HCC STEM Scholar Henry Zucco and friend Ceren Citak  from Mount Holyoke College

Spring Cleaning
Tannery Brook and its banks are looking a lot more inviting today thanks to a spring cleanup organized by student Henry Zucco. The environmental science major from Holyoke rallied his STEM Scholar colleagues and others from Student Engagement as part of a Service Learning Project. "A section of Tannery Brook runs directly through the Holyoke Community College campus, and it happens to be relatively littered with all sorts of different debris and trash," Zucco said. "A lot of it gets blown in or swept in from the parking lots. So we're down here picking up the trash." Friday's effort drew about three dozen students, staff, and college friends, who, armed with trash pokers and their own hands, filled a small mountain's worth of black garbage bags. Zucco said the detail required a lot more planning than people might think. You can't just grab a garbage bag and starting picking up trash around a stream. "It involved quite a bit of communication, getting the right permissions from the college and the Conservation Commission," he said. "We had to write up some waivers with legal, get those signed by everyone who participated, make sure the dates were right, and we had all the equipment put together and resources available." (Picture above: Zucco, with Ceren Citak, a student from Mount Holyoke College during the March 24 brook cleanup.) To see more shots, please go to our Facebook photo album.

HCC Jennifer Bresnahan and Yesenia Dejesus recognized with teaching awards

Alumni Earn Teaching Nods
Two HCC alumni are being honored with Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2023: Jessica Bresnahan '14 and Jesenia DeJesus '17, both teachers in the Holyoke Public Schools. Bresnahan teaches English language arts to 7th and 8th graders at Holyoke's Lt. Clayre P. Sullivan School, right on Jarvis Avenue. She was nominated for her "exemplary teaching practices as a new teacher and for maintaining her classroom as a safe, inclusive space, where students are impelled to think critically, use their minds well, problem-solve, and participate in real-world applications." DeJesus is a Holyoke Middle School special education teacher educator. She was nominated for her "transformational work with students, helping them meet grade-level standards and supporting their social-emotional health." Both grew up and still live in Holyoke. "This does not surprise me at all," said former HCC education professor Joan Giovannini, who now works at Springfield College. "Jessica was a STEP high school, college tutor, and STRIVE/TRIO participant. Jesenia graduated from HCC while working as a full-time paraeducator and was an amazing education student." Bresnahan, DeJesus and the other award winners will be celebrated during a banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 3. The Excellence in Teaching Awards program, now in its 20th year, is made possible by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.


Reimagining the Workforce
HCC welcomed more than 150 educators and other professionals to campus on Friday, March 16, for the 12th New England Workforce Network conference. This year's conference theme was "Reimagining the Workforce," which reflects the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We need workers; we need more workers; we need workers who are interested in studying particular new areas, such as technology and health," Jeff Hayden, HCC's vice president of Business and Community Services told a reporter from 22News. Altogether, 198 workforce professionals from as far away as Florida took part in the conference, in person and remotely. That was a new NEWN record, said conference organizer Mary Breeding. Above, Jeff Hayden, left, stands with HCC President Christina Royal, right, and conference keynote speaker Jack Warner, president of Rhode Island College.   

Line-cook students at MGM Springfield

Now Serving
Culinary arts students from HCC's non-credit line-cook training classes, along with students from HCC's Culinary Club joined HCC adjunct and chef Alex Torres for New England Public Media's 36th annual Wine & Food Lovers festival at MGM Springfield on Friday, March 10. The students, above, served a roasted garlic hummus with a toasted faro salad with grapes, avocado, lemon vinaigrette, and roasted chickpeas to more than 500 guests. The festival celebrated the legacy of Julia Child and featured more than 200 wines, beers, and ciders along with specialty foods from local restaurants.

Ariel Tourmaline and Paris Dunford

Free At Last?
Gov. Maura Healey's proposal to offer free community college education to Massachusetts residents 25 and older caught the attention of Western Mass News, who sent reporter Paris Dunford to campus for some local perspective. For her story, which aired March 2, Dunford talked to Renee Tastad, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of Enrollment Management, and HCC student Ariel Tourmaline, a psychology major from Easthampton. Like many HCC students, Tourmaline had tried college in the past, but never finished. "It got to the point where now I'm 35 and I have a kid and I don't have the qualifications for a living wage job," she said. Tourmaline is now set to graduate this spring and hopes to transfer to Smith College. She said free community college certainly would have persuaded her to return earlier. "I did put it off because of the fear of debt for sure," she said. "I put it off for a long time because of that. There's absolutely no question that this would open up so much opportunity for so many people." (Above, Ariel Tourmaline, left, with reporter Paris Dunford in HCC's Marieb Center.)

AIC and HCC faculty and staff at AIC

College Talk
American International College welcomed representatives from HCC to their Springfield campus March 2 to celebrate a transfer agreement they signed last summer and brainstorm ideas for future partnerships. President Christina Royal and a cadre of faculty and staff from HCC toured the AIC campus with President Hubert Benitez and other AIC officials and then sat down to talk over lunch. "We were excited to visit AIC to learn more about their academic programming and student services and identify pathways for our students," Royal said. "One of things I noticed is how similar our demographics are, so I know that students who start at HCC will feel at home when they transfer to AIC. President Benitez and AIC have a strong commitment to supporting the community college transfer student." Last June, the two colleges signed an articulation agreement to make it easier and cheaper for HCC students to transfer to AIC through its Direct Connect program. "We believe that AIC offers HCC students a great opportunity for advancing their educations through a seamless transition from HCC to AIC," Benitez said. "We welcome the opportunity to serve community college students and look forward to a strong relationship between our two institutions." (Above: AIC president Hubert Benitez with HCC president Christina Royal, both front center, with other AIC and HCC faculty and staff at AIC March 2)

Ana Sanchez and friends at the conference in Orlando

Distinguished Woman
Congratulations to Ana Sanchez, who was recently honored as a "Distinguished Woman Enriching & Uniting our Community," as part of Black History Month by the Central Florida Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Sanchez is a recruiter for HCC's Accelerated Career English program, which helps immigrants and refugees take steps toward their career and education goals while improving their English language skills. (Above, Ana Sanchez, far left, with friends at a Black History Month conference Orlando, Florida.)