College opens dedicated Scholarship Resource Center

By Chris Yurko

Feroza Sherzai holds the distinction of being the first Holyoke Community College student to apply for a scholarship through the college’s new Scholarship Resource Center.

Sherzai, a Holyoke resident, arrived at the center Jan. 31, just as the open house celebrating its grand opening got underway. She sat right down at one of the center’s three computer work stations.
“This is a very good opportunity for students,” said Sherzai, a student in HCC’s Academic English as a Second Language program. “I came here to fill out the application. I had a lot of questions.”

On hand to answer those questions was Laura Freeman, manager of stewardship and donor relations for HCC and coordinator of the center.

“She was very good,” Sherzai said. “She was very patient with me.”

The Scholarship Resource Center is the first of its kind among community colleges in Massachusetts. Its purpose: to make it easier for students to apply for scholarships that are available through the HCC Foundation.

“We’re here 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, to help with all things scholarship related,” Freeman said. “It’s great to have this very warm, inviting and inclusive space where students can come and get the assistance they need.”

Scholarship season for the 2024-2025 academic year officially opened on Jan. 29, and continues through Sunday, March 3.

Each year, the HCC Foundation awards hundreds of scholarships worth about $350,000 to more than 300 incoming, current and transferring HCC students. Students must be currently enrolled at HCC or have been accepted for the upcoming academic year to be eligible.

Applicants only need to fill out a single online form to be automatically matched with the scholarships they are most qualified to receive. There are scholarships for new students, current students, and students transferring to other institutions, scholarships based on financial need, scholarships for students in specific majors, scholarships for residents of certain communities, and scholarships that recognize academic achievement.

The center saw a steady stream of students throughout the four-hour open house, which culminated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon led by President George Timmons.

“This is such an exciting time for HCC,” he said, “and we’re excited to continue to provide services that remove barriers to education, and what a great way to start your academic career and journey than this wonderful, new, lovely space. Not only is it functional, but it’s also social.”

Among the other students who came to the open house was first-year student Sunrise Iaim Smith.

“I read that HCC had created a new facility where we can get support in applying and be able to ask questions during the application process,” Smith said. “I figured that’s a nice support to have. It’s not always easy navigating financial aid or understanding expectations when you’re filling out an application. Just having people who know the process there to support you makes it feel a little better, especially since it’s my first time.”

This article was originally posted here.

Chris Yurko

Chris Yurko is media relations manager at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts.