Honors-to-Honors Program Provides Opportunities and Scholarships

September 6, 2016

A select group of Greenfield Community College students who have excelled in their courses now have the opportunity to take a free four-credit honors-level seminar and apply for special Honors-to-Honors scholarships to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students on GCC’s President’s List (4.0 Grade Point Average) or Dean’s List (3.5 Grade Point Average or higher) can apply to take “Ideas That Change the World.” The interdisciplinary seminar will be taught at GCC by faculty from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College. GCC students will be able to experience the challenge, rigor, and individualized attention students receive at the Commonwealth Honors College, while still being in the familiar setting of GCC and having access to the GCC’s support network of faculty, tutors, and advisors.

Honors students at GCC and other area community colleges planning to pursue their studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst also have the opportunity to apply for special $6,000 annual scholarships funded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. The grants will provide additional financial support for first-generation and low-income honors students from Greenfield, Holyoke, and Springfield Technical community colleges who are accepted into UMass Amherst’s Commonwealth Honors College through its Honors-to-Honors scholarship program. The Honors-to-Honors $6,000 annual scholarships are in addition to need-based aid from federal and state sources.

These seminars also will be taught this fall at four other community colleges, including Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Bunker Hill Community College. At the end of the semester, Honors seminar students from all five schools will spend a full day on the UMass Amherst campus visiting the W.E.B Du Bois archives, and meeting with students and faculty from the honors college. They will also make a site visit to the Du Bois home site in Great Barrington, where UMass Amherst faculty and students have been conducting archaeology since 1983. Funding for the “Ideas That Change the World” seminar and special events offered through UMass Amherst’s honors college is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation. The “Ideas” seminar is the common seminar of Commonwealth Honors College students, generally taken upon entering the honors college.

Commenting on the Honors seminar, GCC’s Dean of Humanities Leo Hwang said, “UMass and GCC represent two of the best educational experiences at the most affordable rates for our region. It is natural for our institutions to work together to help our students transition in to fantastic opportunities like the Commonwealth Honors College. Like the Commonwealth Honors College, we value the small classroom experience, the one-on-one contact with faculty, and the sense of community that is built among the students. I think it is a natural fit for GCC students seeking to continue a strong academic pathway where they are encouraged to ask the tough questions and enjoy the complexity of difficult answers. These kinds of opportunities, taking classes at GCC and participating in the UMass Commonwealth Honors College, are really transformative experiences helping create the kinds of communities we envision for the future, populated with citizens who are educated critical thinkers. Plus, for students looking to transfer to UMass, a free four-credit course is an incredible opportunity to save on tuition and fees while getting a step ahead.”

GCC English faculty Trevor Kearns said, “One of GCC’s strengths is the academic quality of our offerings; you can start here and go anywhere. The Honors-to-Honors program is one way this strength is being recognized. Students who work hard here find that lots of opportunities like this open up for them.”

GCC President Bob Pura said, “Honors-to-Honors is an exciting and innovative program that is a clear win/win/win for all involved.  It is a win for students and their families and it is also a win for both UMass and GCC. I am most grateful to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and The Davis Foundation for their support of making this pilot a reality.  I am also most appreciative of UMass Provost Katherine Newman for her passionate commitment to our students and providing each involved with this academic, social, and economic opportunity.”

For information about the Honors Seminar and Honors-to-Honors scholarships, contact Trevor Kearns at kearnst@gcc.mass.edu or 413-775-1264.

By Mary McClintock, ’82