Sept. 2023 News Blog

DATE: Friday, September 1, 2023

News briefs from the HCC campus and beyond

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Eddie Williams an Amiracle Golphin plant an Oxeye sunflower in the courtyard

Planting Ideas
Students taking English 101 this semester with Professor Elizabeth Trobaugh spent part of one recent class discussing "Nurtured by Nature," an article by writer Kirsten Weir that describes the cognitive and emotional benefits of spending time outdoors. A little while later, they were in the HCC Courtyard, spades in hand, planting Ox-eye sunflowers, purple aster, butterfly milkweed, and echinacea (a.k.a. cornflower). "Moments ago, we were in the classroom talking about connecting with nature," Trobaugh said, "and now they are literally doing that very thing." The exercise was part of a service learning project Trobaugh designed that takes on the HCC campus as its community partner for the semester. "For English 101, many professors choose to build their courses around a theme," she said. "And the theme I've been doing for a number of years now is the relationship between humanity and nature, and that's because it's important to me. I love the theme." Her students seem to enjoy it too. "College is about experiences, more than just limiting yourself to the classroom," said student Eddie Williams, left, in the photo above, with planting partner Amiracle Golphin. "It's about taking what you learn and making it about your life." Trobaugh said she chose those four specific plants because they are all pollinator-friendly perennials native to New England. "They belong here," she said. "They all have flowers that attract pollinators like bees and moths and hummingbirds and butterflies, and they all tend to bloom in late summer, early autumn. The hope is that, a year from now, when these students mostly will still be on campus, they will see the flowers they planted."

Nursing student Gabriela Artin checks the vital signs on a patient in the HCC Simulation Center.

Celebrating Simulation
For people who work in healthcare education, the week of Sept. 18 was a special one, even if it didn't get much media attention - National Healthcare Simulation Week. "It's a week that celebrates simulation across healthcare and educational institutions," said Michelle Sherlin, the coordinator of simulation labs at HCC's Center for Health Education & Simulation. "It recognizes the positive impact that simulation has on the practice and quality of patient care."  HCC's simulation center includes four  private patient simulation rooms, two semi-private patient simulation rooms, three control rooms, two debriefing rooms, and two larger multi-bed lab spaces that can be transformed into acute or community environments, where students can advance their education and skill. "Simulation is important because it allows students and healthcare professionals to practice in a safe environment, improving patient care," Sherlin said. This week, second-year nursing students had one of their first opportunities to engage with the HCC simulators, examining one patient who had suffered a heart attack and another experiencing congestive heart failure. "So the students were able to compare and contrast the different clinical presentations of those two patients and put into practice what they learned this week in lecture." Above: Nursing student Gabriela Artin of Westfield checks the vital signs on a patient in one of the HCC simulation rooms.

HCC STEM studen Johnny Garcia '24

Cape Crusader
While Cape Cod is known for many of its natural features, orbicella is not typically one of them. As HCC environmental science major Johnny Garcia '24 recently explained, orbicella is a coral reef species mainly found in warmer waters, such as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless, Garcia spent his summer studying orbicella in a research lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth as part of a three-month internship for community college students interested in STEM fields. "Orbicella is highly impacted by global warming and disease," he said. "We were testing what kind of micronutrients might help with coral health." Besides the lab work, the internship included lectures, seminars, and field trips, including a night time excursion to observe bioluminescence, which he said looked like fireflies in the dark ocean waters. "They wanted us to be exposed to what's out there," said Garcia, who grew up in Holyoke and had never been to Cape Cod before. "That was just me going straight into the deep end. No shallow waters or anything like that. I just dived in." He meant  metaphorically. "No, I didn't go diving," he clarified. "We did go on a sailboat, though, and we did swim along the shore. Pretty awesome." He credits the HCC STEM Scholars program for giving him the confidence to pursue the internship, where he worked alongside undergraduates as well as  graduate students working on their Ph.D.'s. "The STEM field can be intimidating," he said. "I'm really grateful to the STEM program, as well as the other programs that have helped me, like El Centro, ALANA, and TRIO. They're all like my village." PHOTO: Johnny Garcia holds a 3-D printed shark during an HCC STEM week program last spring.

Emerging Hispanic Leader
Julissa Colón '13, director of El Centro, was featured Julissa Colónon MassLive Sept. 17, as part of a series of Hispanic Heritage Month profiles. "MassLive asked readers to identify people who are emerging Hispanic leaders throughout the state, working to make a difference in their own area of interest, be it politics, education, business or the arts," said writer Chris McLaughlin. "These are people our readers have identified as inspirational, who may be doing good acts for their communities. They are being recognized for their accomplishments, leadership and commitment to inspire change." The story, "Julissa Colón helps Latinx students succeed at Holyoke Community College,"  recounts how Colón was raised a proud Puerto Rican by her mother in Springfield's North End and found her passion in various human service roles helping those with disabilities, mental health issues, and families in crisis, eventually landing at HCC, where she is now director of El Centro. "I would encourage people who want to do the work of helping and supporting others to start right now in their own sphere of influence," Colón told MassLive. "Whether you are a high school student, a new college graduate, or someone in the prime of their career, you all have a community around you where you can create change."

President George Timmons celebrates with students

Number One Again
Holyoke Community College was selected as the Best College or University in the Pioneer Valley in the Springfield Republican / MassLive Reader Raves poll for 2024. This was the second year in a row that Republican and MassLive readers voted HCC as their number one choice. "It is an honor to be named best college or university by Reader Raves and is especially exciting to repeat the honor for the second year," said President George Timmons. "This is a credit entirely to our faculty, staff, board leadership, alumni, and donors who create the environment in which our students can succeed and thrive. Our values of innovation, collaboration, kindness, inclusion and trust guide everything we do, and when you are rooted in your values, that is felt by the greater community." HCC also received the number one spot as Best Two-Year College for 2023 for the 10th year in a row in the Daily Hampshire Gazette's annual Readers Choice Awards, while HCC's Itsy Bitsy Child Watch received the number one spot for Best Day Care establishment and the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute took second place for Best Cooking School. PHOTO: HCC President George Timmons celebrates HCC's Reader Raves recognition with members of the HCC Student Senate. 

On the Board 
Recently retired Holyoke Community College president Christina Royal has President Royal headshotbeen named to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education by Gov. Maura T. Healey. Royal, who lives in Northampton, was one of three new board appointments announced Sept. 19. "Equity is at the center of our administration. I'm proud to be appointing members of the Board of Higher Education who share this commitment and will work to expand access to affordable, high quality higher education for every student," Healey said. The 13-member Board of Higher Education is the statutorily created agency in Massachusetts responsible for defining the mission of and coordinating the Commonwealth's system of public higher education and its institutions. "I am grateful to serve on the Board of Higher Education for Massachusetts and look forward to supporting our system of public higher education in a new capacity," said Royal. "As president of HCC for seven years, equity was a significant priority, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue this work at the state level, in support of our students and institutions." Royal wrapped up her tenure as HCC's fourth president in July.