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High Honors

DATE: Monday, April 3, 2017

Holyoke Community College and other local community colleges recognized for their 'critical role'

Business West editor George O'Brien, center, presents a 2017 Difference Maker award to the presidents of the four western Massachusetts community colleges last week during an awards banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

The "Butterfly Effect" is the well-known concept that small events can have much larger consequences. In meteorological terms, it's the storm off the U.S. coast that rises from the flutter of a butterfly's wings in Africa.

The butterfly is a fitting symbol for Business West magazine's annual "Difference Makers" awards, which recognize "individuals, agencies, and institutions that are finding profound and often unique ways to improve the quality of life in the community we call Western Mass."

"Translated into mass culture, the butterfly effect has become a metaphor for the belief that seemingly insignificant moments alter history and shape destinies," the magazine explains. "Typically unrecognized at first, they create threads of cause and effect that appear obvious in retrospect, changing the course of a human life or rippling through the global economy."

Last Thursday, the magazine honored Holyoke Community College as a "Difference Maker" for 2017 and presented HCC president Christina Royal with a handcrafted platter that features the image of a butterfly.

HCC was recognized collectively with Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College and Springfield Technical Community College during the March 30 awards banquet at The Log Cabin in Holyoke.

"It's nice to come and lead Holyoke Community College at a time when community colleges are getting the respect that they deserve and appreciated for the full role that they play in the community," Royal said today, "not only in educating students but in partnering with community leaders and organizations as well as the impact they have on economic development."

The magazine wrote in a feature story about HCC and the other three community college's in a Jan. 24 article, "Steady Course: Community Colleges Forge Opportunities, Fuel Growth."

"While perhaps not as famous as the region's many fine private schools or UMass Amherst and other four-year institutions in the state system, these schools — Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, and Springfield Technical Community College — are playing an absolutely critical role in the development of this region," the magazine wrote.  

"They act as both a door of opportunity, especially to those who don't have many available to them, and a pathway to careers, through both degree and certificate programs that provide job skills and also transfer opportunities to four-year schools. Meanwhile, behind almost every major economic-development initiative in this region, there is a community college playing a significant role."

Today, President Royal sent out an email congratulating faculty and staff on the award.

"One of the great joys of working at Holyoke Community College is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others," she wrote. "Whether your work involves helping a student grasp a challenging concept or offering a motivational word after a stressful exam, each of us plays a role in their journey, and each of us contributes to the betterment of our college and our community.

"We have much to be proud of, and it is the result of each of you giving your best every day. Congratulations on being recognized for making a difference. You most certainly do."

PHOTO: (Top) Business West editor George O'Brien, center, presents Difference Makers awards to the presidents of the four western Massachusetts community colleges last week during an awards banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. (Thumbnail) HCC president Christina Royal holds a butterfly platter presented to HCC for being named a 2017 Difference Maker by Business West magazine.