Courses & Programs

Western Mass CORE

If you or a member of your immediate family have been impacted by the criminal legal system, Western Mass CORE is here to help with services and assistance tailored for formerly incarcerated students and those closest to them.


The mission of Western Mass CORE is to work in jails, in the community, and at HCC to develop and maintain academic pathways for people impacted by the criminal legal system, and to facilitate linkages to local colleges and universities.

visionThe Western Mass CORE logo

Building supportive environments, providing access to academic opportunities, and being a collaborative resource for institutions in the western Massachusetts region to increase justice and equity for people impacted by the criminal legal system.

CORE provides:

  • Support through the enrollment and financial aid process
  • An on-campus community of mentors and peers
  • Individualized academic and career advising
  • Referrals to other services, like housing and food assistance, counseling, and more

Office: FR 160
Student Lounge: FR 158


Mary Orisich
Co-coordinator, Professor of Economics
Nicole Hendricks
Co-coordinator, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice

Norma Hairston
Recruitment Counselor

Alexis Michaelian

Giselle Guillén-Martínez
Program Assistant

Program Contact

"Funding roundup," Community College Daily, March 30, 2022

"HCC Western Mass CORE program receives state grant," New England Public Media Connecting Point, Feb. 9, 2023

"Holyoke Community College grant to expand outreach to formerly incarcerated," BusinessWest, Jan. 13, 2023

"HCC program helping lift people's heads out of jail," Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 21, 2022

"Western Mass Core providing a pathway to higher education," WWLP-22 News, April 27, 2022

"Core principles," Community College Daily, March 22, 2022