HOLYOKE, Mass. - Alondra Negron is creating a new path for herself and her family thanks in part to a Holyoke Community College STEM scholarship.

What You Need To Know

  • Alondra Negron is a student at Holyoke Community College

  • Negron is on a scholarship through  the National Science Foundation STEM grant

  • The scholarship is available to part-time and full-time students who want to pursue a career in science

  • Negron is a biology major and is in her first semester of the scholarship

"When I found out I got it it was crazy," she said. "Because I'm the first in my family to go to college. I'm the first to get a scholarship, so it was all very impacting just because I didn't think I would ever be able to go to college."

Negron was a business major taking online classes during the pandemic while also taking care of her soon to be 2-year-old daughter.

She applied for and received the college's National Science Foundation STEM grant which is available for part-time and full-time students who want to pursue a more affordable education and a new career path in science.

This week, Negron was in her zoology class, later reflecting on the challenges she's faced and the doubts she’s heard from peers.

"You get so many obstacles in life," she said. "Like, I had a baby, wasn't planning on it, life happened. But does that mean you have to give up? It doesn't mean that you have to give up. For example, a lot of people tell me just because I have a daughter that I'm not going to be able to get through college."

Being a student and a mother is sometimes tough.

But, the on-campus Itsy Bitsy Child Watch program offers HCC students with children between three months and 12 years old free child care while they’re in class.

"That has helped me a lot," she said. "Because I did try to reach out to family members to watch her. They would tell me one day yes, one day no, and if it wasn't for the Child Watch program I would not be able to attend my classes.

Negron said STEM scholarships at institutions like HCC which give preference to students of color are vital because they provide families like hers an opportunity to pursue a higher education.

"I think it takes a little just to push yourself," she said. "Because sometimes the obstacles can hold you back and I feel like people need to kind of hear that there's programs that there's opportunities that can help you to succeed and overpass those obstacles in life..."

Negron said she's unsure where her studies as a biology major will take her, but right now she’s looking at both zoology and ecology for a future career.