'My HCC Story' - Gloria Lomax '75
'When I reflect back on all the years I have been affiliated with Holyoke Community College, my heart fills with joy.
I transferred into HCC in 1972, a wife and mother with four children. My husband was an officer and navigator in the United States Air Force and was often away in Vietnam, so I managed my family and my education at the same time. At HCC, I met a wonderful counselor by the name of Robert Evans, the first African-American professional at the college.
He encouraged me during my studies here and upon my graduation from HCC told me that someday I would come back to the college to teach.
That burning vision inspired and empowered me to get all of the education I could so I'd be prepared to teach on the college level. I transferred into the early childhood education program at the University of Massachusetts and earned my bachelor's and master's degrees and worked toward my doctorate.
I then applied to teach at HCC, and upon accepting my position as an early childhood education instructor, I found the joy of interacting with HCC students and encouraging them to apply themselves and be the best they could. Out of that encouragement, many of my students went on to obtain their bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees and teach at every level from preschool to graduate school. Others went on to establish their own early childhood education centers or become principals of schools or deans of colleges and universities.
Before I retired from full-time teaching at HCC, I realized that I wanted to step forward in a leadership role with the Alumni Association, and I am honored to have served as its president for 15 years until 2015. In that capacity, I worked with Victor Thomas Sr., a long-time math professor and former registrar, to raise money for two "Fund A Future" endowed scholarships, and then I endowed a third scholarship in my own name. These scholarships will provide support to students for generations to come.
I also dedicated three evenings a week to work with Joanna Brown, then the director of Alumni Relations, to call alumni and ask for their annual support. Our alumni program has been recognized as one of the most successful community college fundraising programs in the United States.
Often, former students approach me in banks, stores or other public settings, to tell me about the difference I have made in their lives, as teachers, as parents, and as people. That is the greatest gift a student can give a teacher – to know that you have made a lasting difference in a person's life."
HCC professor emerita Gloria Lomax '75 is the pastor of New Life Church of the Living God in Egg Harbor City, N.J., and church mother at Hope Community Church in Amherst, Mass. This is reprinted from the Spring 2015 issue of the Alumni Connection.
PHOTOS courtesy of Gloria Lomax: Gloria Lomax '75