Academics

Gateway photo

Sharmese Gunn, left, MWCC Gateway to College Senior Resource Specialist, and Lea Ann Scales, right, Vice President of External Affairs, Community Relations and K-12 Partnerships, accept the Gateway Program Excellence Award from Emily Froimson, President of the Gateway to College National Network.

Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized with a 2016 Gateway Program Excellence Award from the Gateway to College National Network.

The award honors MWCC for exceeding all four of the Gateway to College National Network’s performance benchmarks: grade point average, one-year persistence, two-year persistence and graduation rate. The award was presented June 28 during Gateway’s College Peer Learning Conference at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“The Gateway to College program opens doors and provides a true second chance for students to achieve academic success,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are proud to partner with the Gateway national network in this transformative work, and are delighted to be recognized with this year’s program excellence award.”

MWCC’s Gateway to College program is a free, full-immersion dual enrollment program for Massachusetts students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school, are at risk of dropping out, or have experienced a setback in high school. The program, also available to home provides motivated students a fresh chance to achieve academic success while getting a jumpstart on college. Established in 2005 as the first Gateway site in New England, MWCC’s Gateway program is offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District. Students simultaneously earn their high school diploma as well as college credits toward an academic degree or certificate. All classes take place on MWCC’s campuses.

“Thanks to the hard work of MWCC’S Gateway to College team, our students exceeded all four national benchmarks,” said Lea Ann Scales, vice president of external affairs, communications and K-12 partnerships. “More importantly, this award recognizes the success our students and graduates are achieving.”

More than 40 communities across the country have implemented the Gateway to College model as a strategy to address the needs of many off-track and out-of-school youth.

“Mount Wachusett’s program, based on a strong partnership and shared vision with your school districts as well as exceptional program and college leadership – is poised to build on its successes and can serve as an example for the rest of our network,” stated Gateway to College National Network President Emily Froimson. “You have not simply made a difference for students in Gardner Massachusetts; the work that your school district and college partnership has accomplished is a model for how we solve these persistent problems as a nation.”

“A theme of the conference, establishing relationships with students, rings true with the students we serve at MWCC, which has made this award possible,” said Sharmese Gunn, senior resource specialist.

MWCC is currently enrolling Gateway to College students for the academic year that begins Sept. 6. Applicants must attend a two-day information session to be considered for the program. Upcoming information sessions will take place on July 20 and 22, Aug. 3 and 5 and Aug. 10 and 12. For more information about the program or to register for an information session, call 978-630-9248 or visit mwcc.edu/gateway.

MCO Award Pratt Santiago Levasseur

MWCC librarians Ellen Pratt, left, and Suzanne Levasseur received their Course of Distinction Award from Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago during the MCO annual conference.

In January 2001, shortly after attending a conference on tele-learning, Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino founded Massachusetts Colleges Online, which grew into a consortium of the state’s 15 community colleges and nine state universities.

In appreciation for his leadership, the consortium presented President Asquino with a Contributor of Distinction Award during its annual conference this spring at Greenfield Community College. MWCC librarians Ellen Pratt and Suzanne Levasseur were among the faculty members statewide to receive Course of Distinction Awards for their online courses.

More than 2,600 courses are offered through MCO. The Course of Distinction (COD) award is named after the Bay State’s unique association with the “Sacred Cod.” The award recognizes faculty from throughout the state who have developed and teach innovative and exciting online courses.

MCO Dan Vin Commissioner

President Asquino receiving his Contributor of Distinction Award from Dean Vincent Ialenti and Commissioner Carlos Santiago.

“Would an organization like MCO have been created without the leadership of Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino? Probably. Would it have happened so quickly? No way,” Vincent Ialenti, MWCC Dean of Academic and Institutional Technology, said in presenting the award. The president, who plans to retire in early 2017 after nearly 30 years at the helm of MWCC, was recognized for his role as the founder of Mass Colleges Online and for being one of its “greatest advocates,” Ialenti said.

Pratt, MWCC’s distance education and outreach librarian, and Levasseur, reference and instructional services librarian, were reconized for their Research Skills course, which introduces students to the skills necessary to write a college paper and develop critical thinking. More than 3,300 students have enrolled in their course over the past two years.

Monty Tech MWCC EMT dual enrollment course

Through a new partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, Monty Tech’s Health Occupations students have access to a dual enrollment program that offers eight college credits and an EMT certification.

The rate at which Massachusetts residents earn college degrees will pivot from growth to decline by 2022 unless the state’s public higher education system, which educates more than half of all undergraduates, is able to increase the number of students who enroll and earn diplomas, according to a newly release report from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

The Degree Gap, the Department’s annual Vision Project report on the status of public higher education in the Commonwealth, was released at an event held at The Boston Foundation on June 8. The report suggests that employers who are already having difficulty meeting current workforce needs in high-demand fields will face even greater challenges in the next few years, as the state’s high school population continues to decline at the same time that an estimated 660,000 college-educated workers plan to retire.  Of those job openings requiring post-secondary education or training, two-thirds will require a college degree.

Increasingly, the higher education system will also be called upon to leverage its traditional role of offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees by also offering certificate and continuing education programs to ensure that students develop career skills needed to be successful.  The demographic challenges facing the state mean that public colleges and universities are likely to fall short of meeting the need for new associate and bachelor’s degrees by 55,000 to 65,000. The Degree Gap predicts that 80% of those “missing” degrees needed to fill the state’s talent pool in the next decade will be at the baccalaureate level or higher.

Mount Wachusett Community College is featured in the report for its innovative Math Modeling program, which provides math remediation to high school seniors, and a new dual enrollment partnership with Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School. The Math Modeling program, launched in 2013, has nearly quadrupled in size and continues to expand. It is offered Leominster High School, the Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation, Fitchburg High School, Gardner High School  Monty Tech, Murdock High School in Winchendon, and Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham, with two additional North Central Massachusetts high schools planning to participate this fall.

“The Degree Gap highlights important issues our Commonwealth must address to prepare our workforce to fill jobs which are currently going unfilled, and help employers find skilled employees in the future,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “It’s clear we need more degree earners and certificate program graduates, including those in the critical STEM fields, and I am pleased our administration has already taken steps to start tackling these challenges.”

“Studies have shown that the vast majority of Massachusetts job openings in the next decade will require a degree or certificate beyond high school, and our administration is working hard to expand training and educational opportunities,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser.  “The higher education system is a critical partner in helping our students and workers meet the needs of our changing economy, and we are focusing on ensuring they are prepared to succeed in college and in their careers.”

“The Degree Gap affirms that the state’s public higher education system must redouble its efforts to help more students earn college credentials, especially those from underrepresented communities who are much less likely to earn degrees,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “I will urge the leadership of our system to focus on what we are calling ‘The Big Three’ priorities for the coming academic year: making college more accessible and affordable, closing achievement gaps, and improving completion rates.”

The report’s findings align with several recent economic forecasts that project that a lack of available talent may constrain economic growth. Although the Commonwealth has more adult degree-holders than any other state—51.5 percent of adults ages 25–54—the state is projected to end the decade with fewer working age college-educated residents than it began with unless the rate of degree production improves.

“Our aging population and slow-grow¬ing labor force are expected to curb job growth significantly in coming years,” said Michael Goodman, professor and executive director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and co-editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the UMass Donahue Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “This makes closing the achievement gap and improving access to affordable and high-quality higher education an essential economic and social imperative.”

“Massachusetts’ knowledge economy richly rewards those who are trained or well educated, but rebuffs those who are not,” said Paul Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation.  “Knitting together the needs of our workforce with our educational infrastructure is crucial to encourage economic mobility, stem the rising tide of inequality, and ensure the growth and prosperity of our Commonwealth.”

The Degree Gap also examines capacity issues in two programs preparing students for careers in high demand fields: nursing and computer science. Officials at several public campuses report that they are unable to grow their programs for a host of reasons, ranging from lack of space and faculty hiring constraints to a shortage of clinical placements for nursing candidates.

The report details a series of new state and local campus initiatives to address The Degree Gap, including:

• The Commonwealth Commitment: Beginning in fall 2016, students in selected majors who begin at a community college and continue their education at a state university or UMass campus will receive a series of financial incentives to earn a bachelor’s degree in less than four and a half years, at an average savings of more than $5,000 per student.

• 100 Males to College: The University of Massachusetts Amherst, Westfield State University, Springfield Technical Community College, Framingham State University and MassBay Community College are collaborating with public schools in Springfield and Framingham to create college-going opportunities for low-income male students who would be the first in their family to attend college. Of the first cohort of Springfield students, 56 of the 59 seniors were accepted to college.

• STEM Starter Academy: All fifteen community colleges are offering free summer sessions at which local high school students tackle remedial math coursework, take part in science and engineering challenges and visit local employers to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. A recent program evaluation found that STEM Starter Academy students enrolled as full-time students at a rate 13 percentage points higher than the general community college student population.

A copy of The Degree Gap report can be downloaded here.

4-Color_MWCC_Sphere_400x400Mount Wachusett Community College is adding five new programs to its academic offerings.

The new programs include credit certificate programs in Substance Abuse Counseling, Community Health Worker and Public Relations, and associate degrees in Liberal Arts & Sciences Law Track and Liberal Arts & Sciences Earth Systems Track.

“These new certificate programs will serve needs expressed by local employers. People who have a degree in a related major, or those who are currently working in the field, are encouraged to enroll in these programs to update their skills,” said Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “The new tracks in our Liberal Arts & Sciences degree were developed in response to students who expressed interest in transferring to four-year colleges and universities in these fields.”

Through discussions with area providers, the college developed the new substance abuse counseling certificate, which prepares students to obtain Massachusetts state recognition as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and to seek employment within the industry. Area facilities are poised to open to serve the needs of clients in various stages of recovery. This certification would allow for individuals to seek employment within the industry.

The Community Health Worker certificate program will prepare students for careers in the healthcare field, providing education and guidance to clients and patients about managing their medical procedures and diseases, such as asthma or diabetes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of community health workers in Massachusetts is projected to grow by 22% by 2022.

The Public Relations certificate program is designed to meet current job market opportunities for students who have a background in communications or public relations. The certificate program combines training in graphic design, writing, business, marketing and media arts technology.

The Liberal Arts & Sciences Law Track degree program is designed for students seeking a pre-law program with the goal of transferring to a four-year college or institution, and the Liberal Arts & Sciences Earth Systems track will provide students with a focused transfer program to pursue a bachelor’s degree in geology, meteorology or astronomy.

For more information, contact the MWCC Admissions Office at 978-630-9110 or email admissions@mwcc.mass.edu. For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed certificate programs and other important information, please visit our website at http://mwcc.edu/catalog/gainful-employment.

Sheila Boria and Aurea Carrion

Sheila Boria and Aurea Carrion

Jose Mangual, academic counselor for students enrolled in MWCC’s English as a Second Language program, has a ready answer for prospective students who feel they are too busy, too old or not ready to enroll in courses.

He introduces them to students who once had the same concerns, but now are succeeding not only in the ESL program, but in MWCC academic programs as well.

“If someone says, ‘I’m too old, I’m in my 40’s and I’ll be the oldest student there,’ I say, ‘Have you met Aurea Carrion? She is 81!’ ”

Mangual served as host of the ESL program’s annual year-end celebration, which recognized the achievements of residents new to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Uruguay, Brazil, Egypt, Ghanna, Syria and Vietnam. The festive event, held at the Leominster campus, featured laughter, encouragement, and array of traditional food.

Special recognition was given to students who recently advanced in or completed their ESL courses, as well as to Ms. Carrion, who graduated with an associate degree in Human Services, and Sheila Boria, who earned an academic certificate in Human Services.

Carrion, who previously earned an associate degree from MWCC in 1990 in Secretarial Studies, worked as a liaison between the community and the Fitchburg and Worcester public schools. She retired from the Worcester Public School system in 2006.

Since then, she returned to MWCC to pursue her interest in the human services field and earned her academic certificate in Human Services in 2013. “I never get tired of studying,” she said. Her goal is to continue working in the human services field.

In addition to serving as president of the ESL club, Ms. Carrion has volunteered countless hours at the Leominster campus and most significantly, serves as an inspiration to fellow students. “It’s never too late!”

“I said if she can do it, I can do it. She was my inspiration,” said Ms. Boria, who will continue her studies and aspires to become a lawyer. “This is important to me. This is my future.”

 

 

2016 Gateway & Pathways valedictorians Christian and Bella 2

Valedictorians Christian Rossi, Jr. & Bella Ballin

Aspiring doctors, nurses, physicists, teachers and police officers, as well as many teenagers who are the first in their families to attend college, are among the largest dual enrollment graduating class at MWCC.

This year’s graduates of the Pathways Early College Innovation School and the Gateway to College program were recognized during a May 20 ceremony at MWCC. The dual enrollment programs, offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, as well as Athol High School, allow students to use school choice funding to earn their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits, an academic certificate, or an associate degree.

With 73 graduates from 26 towns and cities this year, the graduating class is the largest ever at MWCC. This year also marked the 10th graduating class of the Gateways program and the fifth Pathways graduating class.

MWCC President Daniel Asquino was the featured speaker, sharing personal anecdotes with the students and the hundreds of family members and friends gathered for the occasion.

When told as a child he couldn’t play sports because he was born with a disability, he persevered until he could. When told he didn’t swim well enough to become a lifeguard, he self-trained and not only became a lifeguard, but rescued three people who were clinging together for survival amid a rough surf.

When told by a high school guidance counselor he “wasn’t college material” he served the country in the Navy, then went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree while simultaneously working and raising a family on modest means. When he wanted to become a college president, he was told he couldn’t because he was on the “wrong track” – an administrative path rather than an academic path. He is now completing his 29th year as president of MWCC.

“If I can do it, you can do it,” he encouraged the graduates. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do it. Conquer the world. Do for yourself, do for your family, and don’t forget to give back to your community.”

Some of the graduates will remain at MWCC to continue their associate degrees, while many who have already reached that milestone plan to transfer to a public and private college or university. Several of the graduates plan to serve the country in the military or directly enter the workforce.

Bella Ballin of Worcester, who earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts: Chemical Science from MWCC two days before receiving her high school diploma, was the Pathways class valedictorian.

“Who would have thought that teens from all different towns and all different backgrounds would come together not only as a cohort or a class but as a family? Right from the start we managed to forge bonds so strong that we didn’t want to stray from each other. As our bonds grew, so did our maturity, adaptability, independence and knowledge,” she said.

This fall, she will transfer to Carnegie Mellon University to continue her studies in chemistry.

Christian Rossi, Jr. of Winchendon, homeschooled prior to enrolling in the Gateway program, graduated from MWCC Wednesday with an associate degree in computer information systems and academic certificates in cyber security and IT support specialist. He plans to transfer this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

He wryly shared that while he thought he was well versed in many topics before enrolling, he came to realize there’s always more to learn, such as the day a classmate had a pizza delivered to the college for dinner rather than packing food.

“Now why I hadn’t thought of that, I cannot say, but I know that I will remember it in case I ever find myself hungry at my next school.”

MWCC’s partnerships with the public school districts represent “the pillars of support for our students,” said Fagan Forhan, Assistant Dean of K-12 Partnerships and Civic Engagement.

“It is through these partnerships that together, we have built a true community here at MWCC. We have created a place where students feel supported, encouraged and safe. We have built a place where new paths are forged and lives are transformed.”

Pathways Early College Innovation School graduates:

Bella Ballin, Yasmin Barroso, Kaci Bradshaw, Levi Bushnell, Angelique Chaput, Calvin Clinkscale, Holland Crane, Michael Frye, Chandler Giuffre, Sara Khan, Margaret Linzey, Renata Menezes, Emily Perkins, Tea Preston, Michael Racine, Jr., Lucy Rivers, Riley Saisa, Adrian Sanders, Kelsey Schecker, Rachel Stankaitis, Joseph Williams

Gateway to College graduates:

Thayna Aguiar, Kelsey Allaway, Rebekah Amburgey, Arturo Aponte-Cruz, Jacob Bancroft, Taysia Baronowski, Kyle Bates, Katriona Bell, Rene Bergeron, Anders Bigelbach, Nicole Boufford, Shane Carroll, Nicole Cibor, Emanuel Corbeil, Mariah Courtemanche, Emmilly DeMatos, Lyndsey-Leigh Flahive, Bailey Fluet, Coco Fortier, Stephanie Garnhum, Gregory Germagian, Cassandra Gurney, Leshay Hicks, Adoria Kavuma-Winburn, Alyssa Kazanowski, Jamison Lajoie, Lisette Llapa, Rafaela Lopes, Audrey MacDonald, Brianna Martinez, Hayley McAuliffe, Anastasia Panageotes, Camila Pereira, Raul Pereira, Nicholas Powell, Lorena Rocha, Christian Rossi, Jr., Courtney Ruble, Alexander Schilling, Lauren Scioli, Mya Shepard, Milagros Silva Olivera, Constance Tazelaar, Emilia Torres, Pablo Trillas, Jasmine Welch, Beth Winters, Christopher Zukowski

 

Visions & Rx Awards with Sara Williams

TRIO Student Support Services award recipients, from left, Megan Bernard, Elizabeth Fogle and Michel Cocuza with Sara Williams, Management Assistant.

During its annual awards ceremony , MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs celebrated the achievements of graduating and continuing students.

Many of this year’s graduates are continuing on for bachelor’s degree at a private or public four-year college or university.

Sarah Adams, a past Visions program participant who earned an associate degree in art in 2012 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in art from UMass, Amherst, was the featured speaker.

The Visions Program, which has been offered at MWCC for more than three decades, assists eligible students enrolled in any non-healthcare major. The Rx program, which focuses on supporting students pursuing healthcare majors, is graduating 35 students with associate degrees and certificates.

The programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Education TRIO grants,  help guide participants throughout the college experience and assist those who wish to transfer to a four-year institution by offering a variety of services, including intensive academic advising, transfer and personal counseling, professional tutoring and supplemental instruction. The Visions and Rx programs support income-eligible students, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.

During the May 13 awards ceremony, graduating Visions Program students were recognized with a number of achievement awards. The President’s Award was presented to Chelsea Garrity, Stevie LaBelle and Amanda Favreau. The TRIO Student Support Services Award was presented to Elizabeth Fogle, Michel Cocuzza and Megan Bernard.

Breana Keegan leads nursing pledge

Breana Keegan, president of MWCC’s Student Nurses Association, leads her classmates in the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

Family and friends from as near as Gardner and as far away as Zimbabwe came to celebrate the achievements of Mount Wachusett Community College’s associate degree nursing class during a traditional pinning ceremony held May 19 in the Fitness & Wellness center.

The 43rd graduating class was comprised of students enrolled in the day and evening programs and included LPNs who returned to continue their education through the college’s Bridge to Nursing program.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino congratulated the students on their success completing one of the college’s most rigorous academic programs. He noted that the care and compassion of nurses bring tremendous comfort to patients who are often at their lowest moment and in pain.

Summarizing key points made during his Commencement address the evening before, the president encouraged the graduates to move forward in their careers and lives with compassion, empathy and a positive attitude.

Mercy Dhliwayo of Fitchburg and family

Mercy Dhliwayo is joined by members of her family following the ceremony. From left, Jane Dhliwayo, who traveled from Zimbabwe to attend her granddaughter’s graduation and pinning ceremonies; Mercy’s mother, Patience Dhliwayo-Amoakohene, RN, who pinned her daughter; and aunts and MWCC alumni Privilege Dhliwayo, RN, and Patricia Dhliwayo-Kwangwari, RN.

“I can think of no other profession where these are so essential.”

Eileen Costello, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Community Service Programs, also welcomed the graduates and their families.

Dressed in traditional nurse uniforms, the students were welcomed into the profession by having the program’s nursing pin fastened to their lapels by a family member, friend, or an alumnus of the program, or a faculty member, to the cheers of family and friends. The pin symbolizes where the nurses completed their studies to become an RN and distinguishes them from other health care professionals. The eight-star MWCC pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World.”

As part of the ceremony, the students also took a nursing pledge that dates back to Florence Nightingale, who distinguished herself during the Crimean War by coming to the aid of sick and wounded soldiers.

 

President Asquino at podium

President Asquino shared the lessons he learned in 50 years of public service.

The transformative power of service and volunteerism was the resounding theme of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 51st Commencement on Wednesday, May 18, from the 157,000 service hours completed by students this past academic year to the decades-long legacy of President Daniel M. Asquino.

This year, 810 associate degrees and certificates were awarded to 734 graduates. The ceremony will be remembered as the final commencement President Asquino will preside over before retiring early next year.

Tina Sbrega, chair of the Board of Trustees, led a tribute to the president, who received a standing ovation in recognition of three decades at the helm of the college and nearly 50 years in public higher education in Massachusetts.

Since his arrival in 1987, he has established the college as a state and national leader in a number of key areas, from workforce and economic development to K-12 partnerships. Above all, Ms. Sbrega said, is the lasting legacy he will leave in the area of incorporating civic engagement as a hallmark of MWCC.

“He will be remembered most for having brought our community together for the good of all,” she said. “Throughout his 47 year career in public higher education in Massachusetts, Dr. Asquino has been driven by the belief that education is society’s great equalizer and has spent every moment of his career devoted to all of you and the tens of thousands of graduates who came before you.”

In delivering the commencement address, President Asquino reflected the accolades back to the students, faculty, staff and alumni for their hard work and commitment, personally and collectively.

“This is an amazing, transformative, magical college. Lives change here like nowhere else.”

He encouraged the students to enjoy life’s celebrations, and manage challenges and setbacks as an opportunity to “pick yourself up, and move on.”

Among the life lessons he shared, he advised the graduates be flexible to adjust to the ups and downs of life’s circumstances and to be mindful that “life is a merciless reflection of your own attitude.”

“There is no balanced allocation of good fortune or failure. The question then is when you are confronted with disappointment, tragedy, discrimination, how do you handle it? It’s OK to momentarily feel distraught and sad…but then you need to, as difficult as this may be, pick yourself up and move on. Let us be the person who sees opportunity in every calamity, rather than calamity in ever opportunity. That is the Mount way.”

Student speaker Chelsea Garrity, described her journey from being “a small fish in a big pond” to becoming an engaged student leader.

Chelsea Garrity student speaker MWCC 2016 commencement

Student speaker Chelsea Garrity shared her graduation rap song.

“I don’t think that I became a big fish in a small pond because the Mount isn’t a small place and it isn’t a competition for survival. I grew as a person, I challenged myself, and I tried new things. And that is my challenge to you. Class of 2016, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Try something you never though you would like or do….I promise you that it will all be worth it.”

Known for her spontaneous rap songs, she concluded her speech in similar fashion to the delight of the crowd.

“So here’s to the community that raised you up, and here’s to you for never giving up. And when it comes time to throw your cap up, Remember – for the graduates, by the graduates, we the graduates, Word. This is our future, and we will change the world.”

A number of awards were also presented during the ceremony.

The 2016 Service Above Self Award was president to Raymond M. Martino, President and CEO of Simonds International, who spoke of the power of collective volunteerism. The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to MWCC and the 29 cities and towns that make up MWCC’s service area.

Tom Berger, student trustee for the past academic year, was presented with the Trustees Award for his service, and three graduates were awarded the President’s Key for their academic excellence, Mellissa Richards, Jonathan Inman and Kelly Veautour.

Retiring professors Janice Gearan and Kathleen Panagiotis were awarded emeriti status.

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, who received the 2016 Alumnus of the Year Award, lamented that unlike the student speaker, he had no rap song to share, but drew laughter when he spontaneously sang out an operatic “President Asquiiiiinooo.” Mayor Hawke shared his personal story of his academic “ordeals and debacles” as he made his way from a “straight-C” student to college graduate thanks to the direction he received at MWCC. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and MBA.

“To my soon-to-be fellow alums, when you come to the two roads diverging in the woods, whether you take the one less traveled or not, always remember and be proud that your road began here at MWCC.”