HOLYOKE — For the second year in a row, the Gateway to College program at Holyoke Community College has received national recognition for exemplary performance.
The Gateway to College National Network, based in Portland, Ore., honored HCC with its 2017 Gateway Program Excellence Award at a conference in Providence, R.I. last month.
Gateway is a second-chance, dual-enrollment program for students who have either left high school or are at risk for dropping out. Gateway students take college classes and earn college credits while also working toward their high-school diplomas.
The 2017 award recognizes Gateway programs that exceeded all four of the network’s performance benchmarks for the 2015-16 academic year: first-term GPA, one-year persistence, two-year persistence, and three-year graduation rate.
HCC’s Gateway program won the national network’s inaugural Excellence Award last year and in 2014 was ranked number one among all the Gateway programs in the U.S.
“We’re awfully proud,” said Vivian Ostrowski, HCC Gateway to College coordinator. “Putting disadvantaged, at-risk youth into college classes may seem counterintuitive, but our students have proven year after year that this model works and they can succeed at high academic levels.”
In June, the program graduated the largest class in its nine-year history, awarding certificates to 33 students from Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, Palmer, Longmeadow, Agawam, Minnechaug, and Belchertown.
Since its founding in 2008, HCC’s Gateway to College program has helped 251 students earn their high-school diplomas while also getting an early start on college. More than half have continued on to college, and so far 30 have earned their associate degrees from HCC, and six have earned bachelor’s degrees. Six Gateway to College graduates earned their associate degrees from HCC on May 27.