Sí se puede!

DATE: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

HCC awards first Bienvenidos scholarships

Elsie Rodriguez-Garcia, Amanda Sbriscia, Brenda Conde, and President Christina Royal

Holyoke Community College has awarded its inaugural "Bienvenidos" Latinx scholarships to 20 new and returning HCC students from Holyoke and surrounding communities.

Each student will receive $2,500 they can apply toward tuition, fees, books or other college costs for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The scholarship recipients were celebrated during a special reception in the HCC Campus Center on Saturday, Aug. 28.

"It is a pleasure to be here with you and your families sharing this special moment as we recognize your commitment to your educations," said Elsie Rodriguez-Garcia, director of HCC's TRIO Student Support Services and chair of the college's Hispanic Leadership Committee. "As a Hispanic Serving Institution, we are honored that you have chosen Holyoke Community College. As an HCC student, you will be connected to mentors, workshops and support services to ensure your academic success. We want you to be educated, inspired and connected as you continue your studies by exploring and expressing your Latinidad."

As part of the celebration of HCC's 75th anniversary, the HCC Foundation allocated $75,000 to create the Bienvenidos Latinx Scholarship Fund. During this inaugural year, scholarships worth a total of $50,000 were distributed to 20 eligible Latinx students. The remaining $25,000 was set aside in an endowed fund for future years.  

Bienvenidos was chosen as the name of the scholarship program because it means "welcome" in Spanish. One of the goals of the scholarship program is to increase retention rates and reduce achievement gaps for Latinx students. Beyond the direct financial support, scholarship recipients will be connected to peer and alumni mentors and workshops to ensure their ongoing success. 

"As one of our Latinx scholarship awardees stated in his essay, 'Holyoke Community College is where you can believe que sí, se puede,' (Yes, you can)," Rodriguez-Garcia said.

HCC marked a major milestone in 2016 when the U.S. Department of Education recognized the college as a 'Hispanic Serving Institution,' which means at least 25 percent of its students identify themselves as a Hispanic, Latina/o, or Latinx. 

"This scholarship is an acknowledgement of your identity as Latinx individuals and a recognition that that is going to be part of the cultural context in which you learn," said President Christina Royal. "I'm so happy that we have a group of faculty and staff here today dedicated to help you get started on your path at HCC in a way that recognizes that identity and who have developed a program tailored to help you be successful."

The 2021-2022 Bienvenidos Latinx Scholarship recipients are:

New students: Mia Almodovar, Holyoke (Liberal Arts); Brenda Conde, Springfield (Liberal Arts);  Gloryann Lebron, Holyoke (Secondary Education); Brianna Melendez, Springfield (Psychology;  Cristobal Rodriguez, Amherst (Criminal Justice); Jamil Roman, Holyoke (CMTA - Communication, Media, Theater Arts);  Lyla Roybal, Westfield (Foundations of Health); Mercedes Ventura, Holyoke (Medical Assistant).  

Continuing students: Miren Neyra Alcantara, Holyoke (Latinx Studies); Eris Santiago Bigas, Holyoke (Liberal Arts); Jazlynn Brown-Pena, Holyoke (Psychology); Vianca Diaz, Ware (Biology);  Jeremy Gongora, Springfield (Business Administration); Zuheily Gonzalez, Springfield (Foundations of Health); Mackenzie Lara, Chicopee (Foundations of Health); Aida Lema Portes, Holyoke (Early Childhood Education); Xiomara Rivera, Chicopee (CMTA); Bianca Shea, Holyoke (Business Administration); Angel Vargas, Springfield (Computer Science).

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Thumbnail) Scholarship awardee Jamil Roman and his mother Mabeline Burgos. (Above) Elsie Rodriguez-Garcia, chair of HCC's Hispanic Leadership Committee; Amanda Sbriscia, executive director of the HCC Foundation; scholarship awardee Brenda Conde of Springfield; and HCC President Christina Royal.