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Bienvenidos dos

DATE: Friday, August 19, 2022

A celebration for HCC's Latinx students

Bienvenidos 2021

Holyoke Community College will host its second annual Bienvenidos celebration on Sat., Aug. 27.

The half-day event for current, new and prospective Latinx students will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second floor of the HCC Campus Center, right outside El Centro, the campus hub of support and cultural activities for HCC's Latinx students. 

"I think the name in Spanish captures this event perfectly," said Julissa Colón, director of El Centro and a member of HCC's Hispanic Leadership Committee, which organized the event. "Although Bienvenidos means 'welcome,' there's something a little bit dry about the word welcome. Bienvenidos, culturally, is more like a welcome where you grab someone by the hand and lead them into the house. Our Bienvenidos is about seeing our new students and returning students and prospective students and saying, 'You are so welcome here. We are so happy to have you here, and we want to show you that there already exists a community here that wants to help you and support you.'" 

The event is free and open to all. To register, please to to

Bienvenidos will begin at 9:30 a.m. with "Café Con Leche" – coffee and home-baked Puerto Rican breakfast treats, such as quesitos (flaky pastries filled with sweet cheese), and besitos de coco (a kind of shredded coconut cookie).  

President Christina Royal will deliver the official Bienvenidos welcome, followed by remarks from Sharale Mathis, HCC's vice president of Academic & Student Affairs, and Colón, who will introduce El Centro. 

"El Centro is a place for Latinx students to receive wraparound support from the minute they walk into HCC until the day they cross the stage at graduation," said Colón. 

Besides Colón, El Centro's staff includes two senior community outreach workers, an academic counselor, a financial services advisor, and a clerk, all bilingual and bicultural. 

"El Centro is built for Latinx students," she said. "We're providing a place for wraparound support and also a place to celebrate people's culture. Bienvenidos is specifically for Latinx students because, as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, HCC has a duty to these particular students, to ensure their success." 

Bienvenidos will include a panel of Latinx alumni talking about their experiences at HCC: Maritza Santiago '15, a clinician at Brightside for Families and Children; Alexandra Santiago '21, an HCC Latinx Studies major now at Westfield State University; and Angel Vargas '22, an HCC computer science major now at UMass Amherst. 

After that, HCC Spanish professor Raúl Gutiérrez, coordinator of HCC's Latinx Studies program and co-coordinator of HCC's Honors program, will lead a workshop titled "Placemaking."  

Lunch is being catered by Sabon Latino, a Dominican/Puerto Rican restaurant in Chicopee with entertainment provided by the music and dance company Bomba de Aquí, led by Holyoke's Brendalíz Cepeda. 

Attendees will receive goodie bags filled with school supplies and other items and be eligible for raffle prizes, including a laptop. 

For more information, please send an email to or call 413-552-2052.   

PHOTO: HCC Latinx students attend the first annual Bienvenidos celebration in August 2021.