By Sloane M. Perron, Manager of Marketing Communications  

Since 1999, The Clemente Course in Humanities has provided college-level humanities classes to highly motivated, low-income individuals who wish to improve their lives through education.  

Sponsored by Mass Humanities, the program is a true community effort with faculty from area colleges teaching classes in English, Art, History, Creative Writing, and Philosophy. Besides the Worcester location, there are Clemente Courses in Dorchester, Brockton, and Springfield. 

When Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle first heard of The Clemente Course in Worcester, she was excited to see how Anna Maria College could help support the program, according to Anna Maria History Professor Dr. Barbara Driscoll de Alvarado who serves as a Board Member for Clemente.  

The courses are free for students with the program also supplying free course textbooks and even bus passes for transportation. 

After completing the course, students receive a certificate. According to Driscoll de Alvarado, many continue their education at local community colleges, but some of these hardworking students have expressed interest in Anna Maria College.  

“The students are low-income; many are immigrants, and some are homeless. It brings traditional humanities courses to an audience that ordinarily we wouldn’t have,” Driscoll de Alvarado explained. 

Over the past four years, Anna Maria College has assisted Clemente by funding one full-time faculty member to teach this unique student population. 

Driscoll de Alvarado has seen the life-changing benefits of the Clemente Course on students. One student was a woman in her 60s. After taking the course, she found the confidence to apply for a new job and now works for a nonprofit. Another female student had children when she was forced out of her home in Tennessee. The student and her children made their way to Worcester but were living out of their car. After graduating from the Clemente Course, the student found a better paying job and was able to move her children into a safe apartment.  

According to Driscoll de Alvarado, Anna Maria is dedicated to financially contributing to the Clemente Course. Additionally, having an Anna Maria faculty member of Clemente’s Board is just another way that professors bring their real-world experience, not just into the classrooms, but into the communities they serve as well.   

“It shows our commitment to the community, and it shows our commitment to the humanities and liberal arts. Not just for the elite, but for everyone,” Driscoll de Alvarado said about the impact Anna Maria’s support of Clemente has, “The purpose of the course really is to open their minds and open possibilities. Many of them are people who have been told their entire lives they don’t have any opportunities, so this education provides them with the confidence that they do have opportunities, and that they can improve their lives.” 

For more information about The Clemente Course, please visit: