HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A big celebration held at Holyoke Community College Saturday to say ¡Bienvenidos! or ‘welcome!’ to the LatinX students starting or continuing their educational journey at the campus.

Raúl Gutiérrez the Professor of Spanish and Latinx Studies at Holyoke Community College told 22News, “Our student population is changing so we are trying to innovate and make sure that they are successful.”

The event included music, food and workshops and it was put together to help students get to know the on-campus LatinX community. Faculty like Professor Gutiérrez are hoping to make HCC a place of support.

“Statistics and data show that if you make them understand that they belong, they are more prone to be successful, graduate, and persist,” he added.

Julissa Colón introduced “El Centro” to the students. El Centro is an initiative located at the campus center that serves LatinX students and provides a place for support while celebrating culture.

Colón is the Director of El Centro and a member of HCC’s Hispanic Leadership Committee. She said, “To be able to walk that student through that journey. It’s an incredible opportunity to have a student come and say ‘I recognize you. I see you.'”

A panel of alumni were also at the event talking about their experiences at HCC.

HCC alumni Alexandra Santiago told 22News, “It was a great place for me to come for me as a student whose first language is Spanish. Being able to see people who resonated with me and had this similar experience served as motivation and inspiration.”

More information about the El Centro program and events like ¡Bienvenidos! can be found at Holyoke Community College’s website.