HOLYOKE – One college is a four-year private institution, and the other is a two-year state school.
Their presidents, though, see great parallels between American International College in Springfield and Holyoke Community College, which entered into an articulation agreement on Thursday.
“Holyoke Community has transferring built into its DNA. We want students to start here and continue on, ”HCC president Christina Royal said after signing the agreement with Hubert Benitez, the new AIC president, at the Holyoke campus.
“This place is where to start. AIC is where to finish, ”Royal said.
“I think AIC and HCC will be a direct link. I know so, ”Benitez said. “This is in the DNA of AIC, too. Receiving students of all races, backgrounds, sexual preferences, ethnicities, and economic circumstances – we have it all. ”
The agreement allows for HCC students to transfer more smoothly to AIC, where they would enter as juniors after their two years at the community college. The purpose of such collaborations is twofold. It provides opportunities for incentives and the coordination of curriculum and credit transfers. It also simplifies or eliminates much of the paperwork headaches for students looking to transfer.
“With the processes and documents in place, it’s a much smoother transition. That allows students to focus on their education and the college cultural experience, ”Royal said.
Royal said Holyoke Community devotes its energies to helping students adjust and succeed at a two-year school where many students are also balancing work and family considerations. But the future is not forgotten, she said.
“We allow them to get accustomed to our support service system and the experience of being in college. Then, later, we start talking about what’s next (for them), ”she said.
This is AIC’s second articulation agreement since Benitez arrived in April. On May 26, an agreement was signed with Springfield Technical Community College.
Michael Dodge, AIC executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said the agreements are similar in many ways, but “it makes sense to partner with both,” because of varied curriculum offerings and the ability to better serve two student populations.
Holyoke Community Academic and Student Affairs vice president Sharale Mathis said her college has agreements with many institutions, including Westfield State University.
“This agreement is important because of changes in curriculum, and AIC has been wonderful by putting in more incentives and guarantees. The two transfer offices will work together so that a student can step from HCC onto the AIC campus seamlessly, ”Mathis said.
Benitez said the agreement will not only help current and future students, but accelerate AIC’s goal of qualifying as a Hispanic-serving institution.
“HCC is a Hispanic-serving institution, and that’s what we want it to be. The new strategic plan we are launching, which will be announced in August, will reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, ”the AIC president said.
To qualify, an institution must have 25% of its student population identify as Hispanic or Latino. Dodge said AIC now stands at 23% and, within one or two years, should reach the plateau, which carries the opportunity for federal funding support.
Dodge said Holyoke Community students will receive the same $ 4,000 scholarship per year as STCC students will, once they enter AIC as juniors,