Holyoke Community College

Photograph of participant students

“The life changing experiences that occur when students are given the right to participate in self-discovery experiences, with same age peers in a post-secondary setting, is remarkable. I believe it is a right and not a privilege.”

—Sherry Elander, Transition Specialist, Westfield Public Schools

Program Overview

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Program at HCC has been actively providing dual enrollment opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-21, who have not passed the MCAS.  Students have the opportunity to participate in general college courses and are encouraged to participate in campus-wide activities and college life.  Courses are taken for credit or audit with accommodations and support services. The MAICEI Program began in 2007 and has grown to become a fully self-sustained program, which has supported over 90 students.

Students can use the experiences they gain at HCC to:

  • Build their independence and self-determination
  • Achieve their transition goals in a setting that is socially valued
  • Learn with their age-appropriate peers in a typical, integrated community environment
  • Balance their coursework with community-based internships and employment

High school students from Agawam, Belchertown, East Longmeadow, Hampshire Regional, Ware, and Westfield work with their transition teams in their districts to determine if the MAICEI Program is right for them. The MAICEI Program offers a range of academic and person-centered services in coordination with other supports on campus. These include:

  • Classroom and testing accommodations, assistive technology, and academic advising provided by the Office for Students with Disabilities & Deaf Services
  • Tutoring and academic support provided by the Center for Academic & Program Support
  • Career exploration and job search workshops provided by the Career Center

Students have full access to courses without prerequisites, as well as student clubs, social activities, technology and athletic facilities.

If you are interested in the MAICEI Program, please contact your high school transition specialist to discuss your eligibility. Once approved by your transition team, you will be encouraged to attend a campus tour led by an MAICEI Program Peer Mentor. After completing the HCC Early Admit Application, you'll have the opportunity to meet with staff from the MAICEI Program during a Person-Centered Planning session and intake meeting. Family members can also connect and receive support from the program's Parent Consultant.


For more information, contact:

Andrea Hojnacki
Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative
Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Avenue
Holyoke, MA  01040
(413) 552-2844

“Since the 6th grade I have wanted to go to college. It’s great that HCC has a program for students with special needs to go to college and have a coach go with you. I really love it here! I have a new passion for marketing. My professor shares her lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations on Moodle. I take notes because I am interested. I turn in my assignments before they are due. It makes me feel proud . . . like I proved to my family I am able to go to college!”

—Shannon Robitaille, Student

Student Spotlight: Zack Zielinski

Photograph of spotlighted student

Age: 18
Hometown: Agawam, MA

Zack Zielinski is a first-year student at Holyoke Community College, enrolled through the MAICEI Program. He is an artist, passionate about illustration, comic book art, cartoons, and television. After only two months at HCC, Zack “feels like I’m becoming more independent. When I first started here, I had no idea how things worked around here. But I think I’m starting to pick things up now.”

Zack includes managing his schedule, developing art skills, and “working on how to work with others” as some of the things he is working on at HCC.   “I feel proud that my social skills have been improving.”

When asked why he enrolled at HCC through the MAICEI Program, he says, “I want to get a good job that involves using my artistry skills, but I can’t do that until I get more experience and improve on them.” When asked about his plans for the future, Zack says, “I want to travel the world before I settle down. I’d like to get a job to make enough money to pay for my own place. I plan to be a children’s book illustrator, and my dream is to create a television museum someday.” 

Zack offers this advice to incoming students enrolling in through the MAICEI Program: “Keep trying your hardest so you can one day be the best you.”

“This out-of-district placement is the best deal in town given the level of program support and the development of independence and self-determination in our students. Participation in college courses at HCC helps students achieve their post-secondary vision and meets the needs of both students’ and school districts’ transition goals.”

—Joyce Butler, Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Campus Overview

Photograph of campus

Located in Western Massachusetts' scenic Pioneer Valley, Holyoke Community College draws students from more than 70 cities and towns throughout the region and from beyond. As a gateway to quality, accessible education and career advancement, more than 10,000 students are currently enrolled to realize their dreams and aspirations. HCC’s focus on inspiring futures and innovative approach to student success is reflected in the culture of the institution, as demonstrated by campus facilities, the wide variety of service delivery methods, and the assortment of services to address the specific needs for all learners. Since its inception over half a century ago, the College has excelled at serving transfer-oriented students and is today widely recognized for the quality of its liberal arts, fine and performing arts, and career transfer programs.