Middlesex Community College celebrated the opening of its new Asian American Connections Center on the Lowell campus.

MCC President James C. Mabry cut the ribbon to open the center, along with special guests State Senator Eileen Donahue, State Rep. Rady Mom, Bopha Malone, Vice President, Regional Business Advisor, for Enterprise Bank, and member of the MCC Board of Trustees, Virak Uy, Director of MCC’s Asian American Student Advancement Program, and other members of the MCC community.

MCC’s Asian American Connections Center is made possible by a recent five-year, $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) program.

Under the grant, Asian-American students attending Middlesex will receive a range of support services and co-curricular activities designed to improve their college-going experience, as well as their completion and transfer outcomes.

In addition to the Asian American Connections Center, the college will create a peer-support program, titled The Asian American Student Advancement Program, to increase a sense of connection and belonging to the college.

The program will also include personalized support to better navigate college processes; interventions focused on continued support for writing skills to aid ELL students as they transition to college; and the development of academic curriculum related to the cultural heritage of Asian-American students.

More than 11 percent of MCC credit students are Asian American, primarily Southeast Asian. Among that cohort, 70 percent apply for financial aid, and the majority are also from families in which they are the first to attend college.