HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Community College is celebrating the 30th anniversary of their English as a Second Language program on Wednesday. HCC says its academic ESL program is now the largest and most comprehensive in western Massachusetts.

The program started in 1986 as a non-credit, grant-funded program with three part-time instructors. Today, the ESL studies program has five levels, four for credit, five full-time professors, and more than 10-14 adjuncts teaching 34 different classes each semester.

Hispanics from dozens of Latin American countries have come to HCC to master English as a means of furthering their education. The language program attracted Michael Rodriguez, originally from the Dominican Republic. “If you live in Holyoke, or Springfield or Chicopee and you are around the latino community, they know that the program at Holyoke Community College is a wonderful program.”

Michael Rodriguez added the English courses at HCC helped him get a master’s degree and a key position helping others at the community college.