Spring classes remain online/remote, as are college offices. You can find COVID-19 information here.

About HCC

From President Royal

Messages from President Royal to the HCC community are posted here throughout the year.


April 1, 2021

Dear HCC students, faculty and staff,

As we are busy making plans for our return to campus in the fall, my thoughts are not just on how to keep our community safe from illness, but how to create a safe and respectful environment where racism, xenophobia, and other forms of hate and ignorance are not tolerated.

The past year has seen a marked uptick in physical and verbal attacks against Asians and Asian Americans, fueled by anti-Asian rhetoric related to the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit which tracks hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reported 3,795 anti-Asian hate crimes in the past year. 

The recent murder of eight people in Atlanta-six of whom were Asian-was not an isolated incident, but part of a history that stretches back centuries. The murders in Atlanta also illuminate the way in which racial and gendered violence intersect. When we think about the political, economic and social forces also at play, we deepen our understanding and become more effective in dismantling structural and institutional inequality.

Our community has engaged in meaningful dialogue and education around racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, and that work must continue. While acknowledging that racism is not experienced in the same way by all communities, it is important that we recognize the connections between the violence aimed at Black, Latinx, Asian American, Indigenous, and other people. 

To our Asian and Asian American students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members: We are here for you, we stand with you, and we will not tolerate hate at HCC.

Below are some links to news and first-person stories, opinion pieces, and mental health resources to help with the understanding of racism, anti-Asian violence and xenophobia. Repairing deep divisions will require ongoing connection, learning, and discovery. Let us join together in advancing our values and unite as a community of reason and justice.

Christina

Learn More

Stop AAPI Hate
Racial Equity Tools
Working In Solidarity to Address Anti-Asian Violence & Xenophobia
Anti-Asian Violence Resources
How Anti-Asian Activity Online Set the Stage for Real-World Violence
Asian American Stories in the Time of Coronavirus
Surviving Racism Amidst COVID-19

March 8, 2021

Dear HCC Community,

Today is International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women – and a day that reminds us that all over the world, women's fight for equality continues.  

On this day, we are reminded that while progress has been made, there is more to be done. For our world to be its best, gender equality is a must. Women's participation in society is still not equal. And women and girls are still far more likely to be victims of violence. Women shoulder a disproportionate amount of childcare, a situation that has worsened during the pandemic. Despite many gains, women are still underpaid, and underrepresented in positions of power in business and political sectors. At the intersection of racism and sexism, women of color face even greater bias and barriers.  

As HCC's first female president, I am both proud of the progress my appointment signals and sobered by the awareness that just 30% of college presidents are women. We must all thoughtfully challenge the status quo. Fight stereotypes. Unite in our efforts. Put inclusivity and diversity first.

The International Women's Day 2021 campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge urges people around the world to challenge gender bias and inequality. Today, I encourage our community to challenge inequity and celebrate women's achievements. Let's use our collective power to create a world where dignity, justice, and equality for all is a reality.

In this spirit, I invite you to celebrate with us by learning more about four women from the HCC community who inspire us: 

  1. Diamond Smith, 22-year old liberal arts major from Easthampton, Mass.
  2. Nicole Ortiz '20, owner of Crave Food Truck
  3. Samary Ramos, whose near-death experience inspired her to return to school and pursue a career in art education
  4. Elizabeth Busker, single mom and Marine Corps veteran who says, "Quitting is not an option."

Sincerely,
Christina

February 25, 2021

Dear HCC Class of 2021:

For each of you, the experience of Commencement represents the culmination of years of work and significant academic achievement. It is a time to recognize the individual and collective accomplishments of our students, and it is your moment to shine – to share the joy and excitement you feel with family and friends. So much of our daily lives has been impacted by the pandemic; activities and events large and small have had to be reconceived in order to keep our community safe and healthy.

Yet, that does not change the fact that you deserve to be celebrated in a truly spectacular way. 

On Saturday, June 5, 2021, Holyoke Community College will host your virtual Commencement. This live-stream event will be accessible through our website and social media channels and will include traditional Commencement moments, special elements based specifically on your feedback, and other surprises. Members of our Board of Trustees, Alumni Council, faculty, and staff will join your family and friends to witness your moment. In the coming weeks, we will be providing you with many ideas on how you can participate and how to make your day special.

On February 5, 2021, I invited you to share your input in order to help us plan Commencement 2021. Your survey responses told me that, while certainly disappointed at the thought of not being able to gather as we typically would, you understand the circumstances we are facing. You also told me what was most important to you about a Commencement ceremony: photos in your gap and gown, receiving your diploma from the President, cheers and applause from family and friends.

In addition to the virtual Commencement planned for June 5, 2021, we will offer opportunities for you and your family to come to campus this spring for pickup of caps, gowns, celebratory lawn signs and gift boxes, as well as professional cap and gown photos. Please check your HCC email and visit hcc.edu/commencement regularly for updates. 

Although we would love to be together in person, a virtual event will ensure that you, your loved ones, and our entire HCC community will be able to safely enjoy this momentous occasion. I applaud you for your continued strength and resilience, and I look forward to seeing you virtually in June. 

Sincerely,
Christina

February 25, 2021

Dear HCC Class of 2020:

For each of you, the experience of Commencement represents the culmination of years of work and significant academic achievement. It is a time to recognize the individual and collective accomplishments of our students, and it is your moment to shine – to share the joy and excitement you feel with family and friends. So much of our daily lives has been impacted by the pandemic; activities and events large and small have had to be reconceived in order to keep our community safe and healthy.

Yet, that does not change the fact that you deserve to be celebrated in a truly spectacular way. 

No matter where life has taken you since completing your studies at HCC, your perseverance toward graduation in these unprecedented times still deserves to be celebrated. 

On Saturday, June 5, 2021, Holyoke Community College will host your virtual Commencement. This live-stream event will be accessible through our website and social media channels and will include traditional Commencement moments, special elements based specifically on your feedback, and other surprises. Members of our Board of Trustees, Alumni Council, faculty, and staff will join your family and friends to witness your moment. In the coming weeks, we will be providing you with many ideas on how you can participate and how to make your day special.

Last spring, your feedback helped inform the college's decision not to deliver your Commencement virtually; but rather, to wait until 2021 so that we could celebrate with you in person. Yet, as we know, the pandemic remains a threat to the health of our community, and we simply cannot be certain of our ability to safely gather in large crowds in little more than three months from now. On February 5, 2021, I invited you to share your input once more in order to help us plan Commencement 2021. Your survey responses told me that, while certainly disappointed at the thought of not being able to gather as we typically would, you understand the circumstances we are facing. You also told me what was most important to you about a Commencement ceremony: photos in your gap and gown, receiving your diploma from the President, cheers and applause from family and friends.

In addition to the virtual Commencement planned for June 5, 2021, we will offer opportunities for you to come to campus this spring for cap and gown photos. Please check your HCC email and visit hcc.edu/commencement regularly for updates. 
Although we all would love to be together in person, a virtual event will ensure that you, your loved ones, and our entire HCC community will be able to safely enjoy this momentous occasion. I applaud you for your continued strength and resilience, and I look forward to seeing you virtually in June. 

Sincerely,
Christina

January 18, 2021

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. have been much on my mind lately, as I watch our national divisions spilling onto the Capitol floors, lighting up our televisions and filling our social media feeds. The rage and fear of America's citizens is palpable.

Our nation is at a crossroads. America has delayed an honest reckoning with racism for far too long. Dr. King wrote, "The American people are infected with racism-that is the peril. Paradoxically, they are also infected with democratic ideals-that is the hope. While doing wrong, they have the potential to do right. But they do not have a millennium to make changes."

If we are to fulfill our promise as a nation and a people, it is time to make right the wrongs. We must put an end to systemic racism. We must fight for the right of every person to be treated with dignity and respect. We must explore the intersectionality of race and ethnicity with social class, ability, education, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, and other important spectrums of inequality.

Today, on the birthday of Dr. King, I urge every member of the HCC community to ask yourself what you can do to end racism and bring justice, equity and peace to the United States. Then do it, whatever it is. Read works from a variety of authors. Support candidates who stand for what you believe in. Work with others to make change in your community. Speak up and make your voice heard. 

I know how discouraging it can be to confront hatred and bigotry, but you are not alone. We are in this together, and together we can fulfill the vision of Dr. King and all those who have struggled to bring about a truly just world. There is nothing more important, and it has never been more urgent. 

While we take this day to reflect on Dr. King's life, I leave you with more of his own words: "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

With hope,
Christina

--

Christina Royal
President
Holyoke Community College

January 7, 2021

Dear HCC Community,

Like many of you, I watched in horror yesterday as our federal government was attacked. It was a frightening scene and one I never imagined we would see in the United States. I believed that the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power was a reliable feature of our democracy. The images of armed domestic terrorists storming the Capitol, threatening our elected officials as Senators and Representatives attempted to certify the election results, were both chilling and shameful. 

It is also impossible to avoid comparison with how this group of rioters and insurrectionists was treated in comparison with those who peacefully protested following the murder of George Floyd as well as other Black Lives Matter protesters. It is a potent reminder of how much work we have to do to dismantle racism in our nation.

People of conscience must not stay silent when the very fabric of our society is being unraveled. When something is wrong, we need to say so. What happened yesterday was wrong; it is inconsistent with our national values, and it is a threat to our freedom. 

In an academic year that has brought us so much fear, loss, and grief, our hearts are broken particularly with the polarization and divisiveness being felt in our nation. 

As a college, we strengthen the nation by strengthening our institution, doing our work, individually and collectively, to create an environment that demonstrates how a community of people with diverse perspectives can work collaboratively toward shared goals and support shared values.

I hope you all are safe. I hope that our country will see a transfer of power to a new President and Vice President without further violence. I hope that you can find peace. And I am grateful to each one of you, who do so much to support one another through difficult challenges, and who live HCC's values every day.

Sincerely,

Christina

--

Christina Royal
President
Holyoke Community College

Dec. 17, 2020

Dear Students,

On this snowy day at the end of the fall semester, I have no doubt that you are feeling a mixture of emotions: pride in all you have accomplished, exhaustion from all you have been juggling, and everything in between. Remember to take care of yourself, now and always. It sounds simple, but now more than ever, it is so important. 

Because you are a student at HCC, you have access to FREE counseling with a licensed therapist by calling 866.640.4777 or going online at WellConnect using the School Code HCC-STU. Need help now? Text "START" to 741-741 to reach the crisis text line. 

Stay connected! Check in with your classmates via text/DM, or email. For tips on how to start the conversation, go to https://seizetheawkward.org/. If you need any help navigating HCC, please reach out to your advisor or the Advising Center.

Even though the holiday season may feel different this year, it is still a time for joy. On behalf of the entire HCC community, I wish you many joyful moments in the days and weeks ahead.

This video comes with our heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, and joyous new year.

Stay safe and be well,

Christina

--

Christina Royal
President
Holyoke Community College

Nov. 24, 2020

Dear HCC Community:

It is hard to believe that it's almost Thanksgiving and nearing the end of the fall semester. I know that for many, this will be a very different holiday. However, the spirit of gratitude seems more present to me than ever before. Throughout this strange and unpredictable year, our faculty and staff found new ways of supporting one another, staying in touch, and delivering an exceptional education – all while facing the risks and uncertainty brought on by the spread of COVID-19. I know that our faculty and staff will ensure that our students finish strong, and I'm so grateful for the care and concern you show for our students. Every single one of you understands the value of a community college education and the unique ways HCC makes a difference for our students, and ultimately, our region. 

Students, you are our heroes and our inspiration. I know that you are tired and that this pandemic has tested you. Yet your resilience has helped get us all to this point. At every turn, you adapted to a situation that was uncertain and constantly changing. You supported one another in beautiful ways. You spoke out on key issues, leading the college forward as we deepened our commitment to racial justice. This was not the semester you signed on for. Yet, you made it special and deeply fulfilling.

This pandemic has tested all of us, and continues to do so as we prepare for another semester of remote teaching, learning, and student support. So, please take time to rest and reenergize in the coming days – you deserve it. And while this pandemic is not over, I am so thankful for the ways in which our community has adapted to support our students and one another. 

Wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

With sincere gratitude,

Christina

--

Christina Royal
President
Holyoke Community College

Dear HCC Community,

As I am sure you know, tomorrow, November 3, is Election Day in the United States. In the 232 years since we elected the first U.S. President in 1788, we have held 58 elections, through a Civil War, two World Wars, and many other crises. All of these elections are examples of a core principle of democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.

We do not know what this year's Presidential election will hold for us. We may not even have the answer to "who won?" until days or weeks after Election Day. What we do know, however, is that we are living through a time of unprecedented political, economic, and racial division, all across the backdrop of a global pandemic. Understandably, we're all feeling varying levels of apprehension right now. This apprehension could lead some of us to question our election process and election outcomes without the ability to process in-person as a campus community. Democracy depends on adherence to the rules of the game, even if that takes time. After Election Day, we must chart a path back to national unity – both in recognizing the eventual winner and in rejecting any improper attempts to undermine the results.

We have many reasons to celebrate this election, including high rates of expected voter turnout and heroic work being done by election officials and poll workers in our communities to execute safe and secure elections during a pandemic. It's a hugely impressive accomplishment for our democracy, and the more people invested in our nation's success, the better.

If you haven't already cast a ballot by mail or through early voting, I urge you to take appropriate COVID-19 safety measures and vote before the polls close tomorrow evening. Help shape the future of our communities, state, and country. Make your voice be heard; your vote matters! We are all in this together. Additionally, I'm pleased to share the following resources:

National and State Resources:

Sincerely,
Christina

The HCC Student Senate:

Safiyah Bey, President
Carolina Pena, Vice President
Janelle Sanchez, Secretary
Maxwell Faytell, Treasurer
J. Gi, Student Trustee
Rosa Ueon
Todd Cummings
Christopher Royster
Alexa Jean-Baston

Liz Golen, Student Senate Advisor

--

Christina Royal
President
Holyoke Community College