For graduating student, support at STCC helped him succeed
“The support system is the only reason I made it to where I am today,” he said.
Torres started at STCC in September 2021, having moved to the area from Texas. He had very little resources and was looking for an opportunity to get an education that would lead to a career.
“I was able to get groceries from the CAS (Center for Access Services) center,” Torres said, referring to the service at STCC that offers a range of free non-academic support to eligible students.
Torres also received help from other STCC programs such as TRIO Student Support Services, which helps students adjust to the college environment. He was a member of the Male Initiative for Leadership and Education (MILE) program, which provides mentoring, community engagement opportunities and academic support.
Torres took advantage of opportunities. He was elected Student Government Association president and played on the basketball and golf teams. He served as president of the Christian Fellowship. Additionally, he worked full time at nights as a personal care assistant (PCA). Despite his busy schedule, he earned excellent grades and was named to the dean’s list.
He sought help from the STEM Center, which is funded by a federal HSI STEM grant, part of the $7.35 million in total awards received by the college in 2021. STCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution, a designation given to colleges which have a student population that have at least 25 percent of students identifying as Latina/Latino/Latinx.
The STEM Center was created to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“STCC is like a real home,” Torres said. “I had big brothers and father figures here. Miss Wilma (Tynes, director of TRIO SSS) is like the mom I didn’t have.”
Tyne said Torres has served as an exemplary TRIO participant and an excellent role model to his peers.
“Regardless of the obstacles that life may bring, he refuses to allow those obstacles to determine or define what his future will be,” Tynes said. “He has persevered and shown resilience in overcoming barriers that might otherwise impede – or halt – a student’s trajectory towards achieving their education and career goals.”
Tynes said Torres has displayed impeccable character traits and a caring disposition toward his fellow students. “He is focused, academically disciplined, determined and dedicated to helping others in whatever manner he is able to - all which serve as the foundation for his career goal of becoming a nurse,” she said.
The support system is the only reason I made it to where I am today.Drew Torres, STCC Class of 2023
Torres started in TRIO SSS when he first came to STCC and was encouraged to join MILE by a TRIO SSS counselor. TRIO has partnered with the Center for Access Services to provide both academic and non-academic support.
Torres went through a difficult childhood growing up in Texas, where he lived in foster care and faced food insecurity. After high school, he moved to a relative’s home in Connecticut and enrolled at STCC.
“He had a motivation and determination you don’t always see in a 19 year old,” said his basketball coach, Michael Booker.
Added Miguel Maria, Assistant Dean of Student Initiatives: “I am privileged to be able to work with Drew and watch him shine.”
Torres, now 21, expects to receive his associate degree this spring. He looks forward to participating in the Commencement ceremony on June 1 at the MassMutual Center.
He has been accepted into the Accelerated Second degree in Nursing program at Elms College, a rigorous full-time program with baccalaureate completion in 20 months.
As part of the Nursing program admissions process, Dr. John B. Cook, president of STCC, was pleased to provide a recommendation given his engagement with Torres.
"Drew has been effective not only in providing student perspective with key initiatives, including those coming before the Shared Governance Council, but he also embodies an analytical approach in his efforts to be a critical liaison back to the student body," Cook said.
When Torres speaks about his goals, he reveals a strong desire to succeed so he can support himself and help his family back home. “I love the people here (at STCC), but my true family is back down south. I want to pay for my sisters to go to college.”
Jose Lopez-Figueroa, director of CAS, said Torres has shown resilience, having overcome barriers and hardships. He has been a role model to other students having served in leadership positions at STCC and participated in athletics while maintaining good grades.
“His resilience is admirable, and through all of it, he still managed to maintain a GPA over 3.5. Drew is an inspiration and am honored to work with him throughout his academic journey,” Lopez-Figueroa said.
Torres said his story of transformation is not unlike other students at STCC. He hopes they can see what he has accomplished and realize they too can succeed with support from the college.
“I wasn’t a Massachusetts resident when I came here. I was a Texas resident. Everything was new to me. This is where I cried. I shed blood, sweat and tears. This school molded me, and made me into the man I am today,” Torres said.
“I truly dream and hope that when I leave here I left some type of impact,” he added. “Maybe one student can speak up and say I am going through a hard time, and maybe they can tell the story of Drew Torres.”
Interested in applying to STCC? Visit stcc.edu/apply or call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.
About Springfield Technical Community College
STCC, the Commonwealth's only technical community college, continues the pioneering legacy of the Springfield Armory with comprehensive and technical education in manufacturing, STEM, healthcare, business, social services, and the liberal arts. STCC's highly regarded workforce, certificate, degree, and transfer programs are the most affordable in Springfield and provide unequaled opportunity for the vitality of Western Massachusetts. Founded in 1967, the college – a designated Hispanic Serving Institution – seeks to close achievement gaps among students who traditionally face societal barriers. STCC supports students as they transform their lives through intellectual, cultural, and economic engagement while becoming thoughtful, committed and socially responsible graduates.
Jim Danko, (413) 755-4812, firstname.lastname@example.org