Academics

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

President Asquino, guest speaker Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce joined students, staff and faculty for the 26th annual Alpha Beta Gamma induction ceremony.

President Daniel Asquino and Jim Bellina, president and CEO of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce joined MWCC business faculty and college officials to welcome 18 students into the Chi Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Beta Gamma international business honor society.

“Alpha Beta Gamma, the international business honor society. They key word is honor, and it’s an honor for me to be here this afternoon to honor your achievement,” President Asquino said.

The 26th annual induction ceremony was led by Professor Linda Bolduc, ABG advisor and business department chair, with outgoing ABG President Kathy Matson. The celebration included recognition of the chapter’s newly elected and newly inducted officers: Michel Cocuzza, president, Alana Jones, vice president, Bethany Jones, treasurer, and Kimberly Mertell, secretary.

Bellina congratulated the students on selecting MWCC for their academic studies, noting that many of the students are busy balancing work and family responsibilities and volunteering in the community and at the college while earning their degree.

“You will be the type of people that others lean on,” he said. “You are leaders and you have the background of being at Mount Wachusett Community College.”

In addition to the four officers, other inductees are: Donavan Aboal-Caceres, Alexander Batutis, Paula Brown, Angelique Chaput, Joel DeVelis, Katie Dupont, Michelle Francisco, Tammy Goodgion, Jessica Guyer, Sheila Hebert, Lindsay Jamieson, Kevin LeBlanc, Marissa Pitisci and Nicholas Traverna.

Alpha Beta Gamma was established in 1970 to recognize and encourage scholarship among students at two-year colleges, provide leadership training opportunities and career assistance to members. To be eligible for membership into the honor society, students must be enrolled in a business curriculum, have completed 15 academic credit hours in a specific degree program and demonstrate academic excellence by attaining a grade point average of 3.0 or above. At MWCC, the programs include business administration, paralegal studies, computer information systems, graphic & interactive design and medical assisting.

Commonwealth Commitment Pres Asquino and Sec Peyser

MWCC President Asquino and Education Secretary James Peyser shake hands during the signing ceremony of the Department of Higher Education’s new transfer agreement, the Commonwealth Commitment.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined public higher education leaders on April 21 to announce the Commonwealth Commitment, an innovative college affordability and completion plan to help more students achieve the dream of a college degree.

The Commonwealth Commitment commits every public campus to providing 10% rebates at the end of each successfully completed semester to qualifying undergraduate students, in addition to the standard MassTransfer tuition waiver received upon entering a four-year institution from a community college. Students who meet the program requirements will, depending on the transfer pathway they choose, be able to realize an average savings of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.

This plan is the first agreement of its kind in the nation and was signed by University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, Worcester State University President Barry Maloney and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry, representing the three segments of the public higher education system, at a ceremony held Thursday morning at Middlesex Community College in Lowell.

The statewide agreement was inspired by the $30K Commitment adopted last year by the four Worcester County public higher education institutions: Mount Wachusett Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, Fitchburg State University and Worcester State University. Qualifying students are guaranteed their associate and bachelor’s degrees in high demand programs for $30,000 or less in four years.

“The biggest thing we can do is make college more affordable,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. Collaborative agreements such as the Commonwealth Commitment and the $30K Commitment create opportunities while controlling costs and adressing crucial areas such as college completion, economic development, innovation and college readiness,” he said.

As part of the Commonwealth Commitment’s goal to increase cost savings and predictability, tuition and mandatory fees will be frozen for program participants as of the date they enter the program.  Students will begin their studies at one of the state’s 15 community colleges, enrolling in one of 24 Commonwealth Commitment/Mass Transfer Pathways programs that will roll out in fall 2016 (14 programs) and fall 2017 (10 additional programs). They must attend full-time, and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. After earning an associate’s degree in two and a half years or less, students will transfer to a state university or UMass campus to earn a baccalaureate degree.

“This program was designed to decrease the cost of a college degree and accelerate on-time completion for students across the Commonwealth, creating more opportunities and helping more people get into the workforce with the skills they need,” Governor Baker said. “The Commonwealth Commitment will make it even easier for students to go to school full-time and begin their careers with less debt and we are pleased that our higher education officials have worked collaboratively to make this program a reality.”

“The Commonwealth Commitment is a win-win for students, employers, and our public higher education campuses,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our hope is that through programs like the Commonwealth Commitment, not only will students get the benefit of a lower cost degree, but also be able to fill more of the high-demand job of the future, including in STEM.”

“The Commonwealth Commitment is an important plan which we believe will help move the needle on our administration’s two overarching education objectives: to close the achievement gap and strengthen the global competitiveness of Massachusetts’ workforce and economy,” said Education Secretary Jim Peyser. “I thank the leaders of the Department of Higher Education, UMass, and state colleges and universities for their hard work in reaching this agreement and for their commitment to putting students first.”

Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago said the agreement “represents a new day for our state system of public colleges and universities.”

“It was not easy or simple to hammer out an agreement among 28 undergraduate institutions with different missions and programs, but I was extremely proud to see how presidents, provosts, faculty and staff worked together with a sense of common purpose to get this done. What unites us is a dedication to students and to the Commonwealth, a realization that when it comes to preparing the state’s future citizenry and workforce, our public institutions need to lead.”

“Community college students seeking pathways to an affordable, high-quality, four-year degree will now be able to look to the Commonwealth Commitment for critical support – and UMass is proud to be part of this innovative effort,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “This program advances public higher education’s core beliefs and will help to transform lives and strengthen our future. We look forward to welcoming the students who take advantage of this creative initiative to our campuses.”

“When we talk about a ‘best value’ college experience, it doesn’t get any better than this,” said Worcester State University President Barry Maloney. “Those who transfer into state universities under this program will see small classes taught largely by full-time, Ph.D. faculty members who put their students first. The state university degree prepares them well, either for careers or graduate school.”

Under the Commonwealth Commitment, at the end of every successfully completed semester, students will earn a 10% rebate on tuition and fees, payable in the form of a check, or may opt to receive a voucher to use for books or other education-related expenses. The program does not discount room and board, although students may choose to use their Commonwealth Commitment savings or other resources to offset some of those costs. Students’ rebates or vouchers will be calculated based on the total cost of tuition and mandatory fees at the institutions they choose to attend. Additionally, students who enroll in free or reduced cost dual enrollment programs, taking college courses while still in high school, may be able to apply the credits they earn toward their Commonwealth Commitment degrees, thus reducing costs even further.

More information is available at www.mass.edu/MAComCom

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

President Asquino and Mahar Superintendent Tari Thomas recently signed off on the 10th year dual enrollment agreement between the two schools during a campus visit from Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, front, left. Also pictured, from left, Executive Vice President Ann McDonald, Senior Director of Dual Enrollment Craig Elkins, Assistant Dean of K-12 Partnerships and Civic Engagement Fagan Forhan, Mahar Co-Principal Eric Dion, Mahar Director of Finance Daniel Haynes, and Mahar guidance counselor and liaison Sara Storm, and Lea Ann Scales MWCC Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships.

MWCC is marking the 10th anniversary of its dual enrollment partnership programs for teenagers and young adults.

The Pathways Early College Innovation School and the Gateway to College program, run in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, allow students to complete requirements for their high school diploma while also earning credits toward a college degree. School choice funding covers the cost of tuition and fees of both programs.

Information sessions for each program will take place this spring and summer for fall 2016 enrollment.

“The partnership is so impactful for students whether they are in the Pathways program or Gateway program.” said Mahar Superintendent Tari Thomas, who recently joined MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino in signing the memorandum of understanding between the two schools for the upcoming academic year. “Many are first generation college students. For them to be so embraced by this community college, to work with them to grow and achieve, I’m so grateful. And it’s not just for Mahar kids, but for kids all over the state. The way these academic programs meet individuals needs is profound.”

One of the first two innovation schools created in Massachusetts, the Pathways Early College Innovation School provides motivated high school juniors and home schooled students the opportunity to accelerate the pace of their academic careers by simultaneously earning an associate degree and their high school diploma.

To be eligible for Pathways, students must live in Massachusetts, possess a minimum high school grade point average of 3.0, be at least 16 years old and entering grade 11 by the start of the fall semester, and be recommended by the sending school.

Students must attend a Pathways information session and have current Accuplacer scores in order to apply. Upcoming information sessions for the Pathways school will take place on May 10 and 12; June 14 and 16; and July 12 and 14. The first day of each session provides the information about the school, and the second day of each session includes the Accuplacer test.

MWCC’s Gateway to College program, established in 2005 as the first Gateway site in New England, provides a second chance for students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. Students simultaneously earn their high school diploma as well as college credits toward an academic degree or certificate. The majority of the graduates continue their education at MWCC or at another college or university.

Gateway applicants must attend a two-day information session to be considered for the program. Upcoming Gateway information sessions will take place on May 11 and 13; June 15 and 17; July 20 and 22; Aug 3 and 5; and August 10 and 12.

To register for an upcoming information session in either program, contact MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition at 978-630-9248. Visit mwcc.edu/access for more details about the programs.

Week of the Young Child Art Show 2016

Students and family members involved with the 10th anniversary art exhibit include Graphic and Interactive Design major Tom Hill, and education majors Terri Evan, with son Alden, Kelly Williams, with daughter Ashley, Kendyll Knight and Samantha Goodale.

Mix paintings, sculptures and other assorted artwork created by dozens of children, add cupcakes, some glitter, and heaping scoops of commitment and enthusiasm from MWCC’s Early Childhood Education faculty, students and community partners, and what do you get?

The 10th anniversary celebration of the Week of the Young Child Art Exhibit at MWCC’s Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education. This year, the event was also paired with an information session about MWCC’s early childhood education and elementary education academic programs for prospective teachers, sponsored by the Admissions Office.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago met with Mount Wachusett Community College students during his tour of the college.

Continuing his mission to spend a full day at each of the state’s public colleges and universities, Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago took a whirlwind tour of Mount Wachusett Community College on Thursday, April 14.

The day began at MWCC’s satellite campus in Devens – which rekindled fond memories for the commissioner, who spent several years there as a child when his father was stationed at Fort Devens – and ended at MWCC’s main campus in Gardner with a meeting with the Board of Trustees.

In between, he met with students, faculty, staff, administrators, K-12 partners and business and community leaders, exchanging thoughts and ideas on a wide range of topics including an enhanced K-16 approach toward education, college accessibility, transfer pathways to four-year schools, industry partnerships, MWCC’s new science and technology building under construction and student support services. By late afternoon, he had this to say to college leaders:

“You’re innovative. You are getting it right here,” he told the trustees. “Now we’ve got to learn from your success and scale it up. I need this campus to spread the word about the work you are doing here.”

Under the leadership of President Daniel Asquino, MWCC’s ground-breaking work in dual enrollment, civic engagement, unique K-12 and industry partnerships and wrap-around services have grown into model programs, Dr. Santiago said.

“The campus is well positioned on a number of fronts, he said. “The support services that are provided to students on this campus are superb. The students feel well-served by everyone.”

Earlier in the day, the commissioner met with Mahar Regional School Superintendent Tari Thomas and Mahar administrators for a discussion on the continued success of the Gateway to College program for at-risk students, now in its 10th year, and the Pathways Early College Innovation School, now in its sixth year.

He also met with Fitchburg Schools Superintendent Andre Ravenelle, Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche, members of MWCC’s Access & Transition team and math faculty for a detailed discussion on college-readiness programs, including MWCC’s Math Modeling program, now offered in several area high schools to help reduce students’ need for math remediation in college.

At lunchtime, the commissioner dined on sandwiches, fruit and potato chips with a group of students that included teenagers in dual enrollment programs, career changers, student leaders and parents juggling family responsibilities, work and academic studies. He listened intently as they shared stories about unique challenges, as well as their career aspirations, and how the college is helping them reach their goals.

“No matter who you are or where you’re coming from, you really find your place here,” said student leader Stevie LaBelle.

During his session with business leaders, the commissioner discussed the significant role community colleges, like Mount Wachusett, play in the state’s economic and civic landscape. Two-thirds of all college students in Massachusetts attend the state’s public institutions, and 90 percent remain in the state after graduating.

“The future of the Commonwealth really is going to rest on campuses like this.”

 

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

MWCC nursing student Kaila Lundgren, center, was among the guest speakers during the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Go Higher event on April 7 at Wachusett Regional High School. Also pictured, from left, Micah Klayman, Worcester State University; Amanda Beucle, UMass Lowell; Cherise Connolly, Quinsigamond Community College; and Deron Hines, Framingham State University.

MWCC student Kaila Lundgren, an aspiring Registered Nurse, shared college tips and strategies with 1,000 juniors and seniors during the state Department of Higher Education’s “Go Higher” event, held April 7 at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden.

Scheduled throughout the academic year across the state, Go Higher gives Massachusetts high school students the opportunity to learn about academic programs and career options available at the state’s 29 public college and university campuses.

One of five student speakers, Lundgren said she chose MWCC because of the fast-track option it provided into the college’s nursing program through its Pre-Healthcare Academy, as well as the rigorous academic courses and cost savings on her degree.

“Find a college that’s really going to give you stepping stones to your goal,” she said.

Quoting Mark Twain, she advised students during two assemblies, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Lundgren said she was inspired to become a nurse to help her 8-year-old brother, who lives courageously with a rare kidney stone disease called cystinuria, and by the examples set by her mother, who returned to college to become an RN while raising a family of five children.

A 2015 graduate of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, Lundgren works as a safety specialist in the emergency room at Athol Hospital. After successfully completing co-requisites this past year, the 18-year-old Orange resident has now been accepted into the college’s nursing program as a member of the Class of 2018.

Students representing UMass Lowell, Framingham State University, Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College also spoke about their college experiences. The event included a college fair that showcased numerous Massachusetts schools and featured a variety of STEM-related demonstrations.

Jennifer Stephens, MWCC senior learning specialist in manufacturing, provided a hands-on demonstration in mechatronics, a field that combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer control and information technology. 

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Gather a panel of successful, healthcare professionals to share how they got where they are today, put them in front of high school students aspiring to similar careers, and something wonderful happens. Synergy.

Six women – three nurses, a doctor, a medical interpreter and a radiographer – captured the attention of nearly 30 freshmen and sophomores during a “Diverse Women in Healthcare” presentation sponsored by Mount Wachusett Community College’s new Project Healthcare program. The speakers were equally enthused to share words of encouragement and advice to a group of young women, and a handful of young men, as they begin to discern their own career interests.

The March 29 event for Leominster High School and Leominster Center for Technical Innovation Education students capped off Women’s History Month by showcasing the varied academic, professional and personal paths each woman followed, whether locally or globally.

Panelists included Dr. Maria Del Carmen Al-Homsi, an internal medicine doctor at UMass Medical Group; Cecilia Phelan Stiles, senior manager of HR Communication Systems for Cape Cod Healthcare and president of the Forum on the Coordination of Interpreter Services, a statewide organization; Leominster High and MWCC alumna Elizabeth Warpula, a radiographer at Massachusetts General Hospital; Leominster High alumna and pediatric nurse ZaShanah Copeland, a school nurse at Seven Hills Charter Public School in Worcester; Geri Tusalem, senior director of perioperative services at HealthAlliance Hospital; and Mary Fortunato-Habib, Chief Nursing Officer at UMass Memorial HealthAlliance Hospital.

Over the course of an hour, each woman shared what inspired them to enter the healthcare field and the challenges and triumphs they encountered along the way.

Copeland, for instance, was drawn to nursing while in middle school after watching nurses care for her mother following a traumatic accident. As a child, Fortunato-Habib dreamed of becoming an astronaut, until she realized the skills she developed while taking care of younger cousins were pointing toward a career as an RN.

Warpula confessed she had “no intention of going to college after graduating high school. “And now I work at one of the best hospitals in the country.” Dr Del Carmen Al-Homsi and Phelan-Stiles spoke of the challenge of overcoming language barriers, only to find their fluency in multiple languages a major advantage in their careers.

“Be open to your circumstances because you never know where you will land,” Copeland advised. “Finish what you start and keep your eyes on your goal.”

The new Project Healthcare program aims to help students do just that. Last fall, MWCC was awarded a five-year, $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to create the program in partnership with the Fitchburg and Leominster school districts.

The program aligns with federal initiatives to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities while providing a high school-to-college pipeline for students who plan to enter the healthcare field.

Over the next five years, 120 students will receive academic counseling, coaching, field trips, guest lectures and dual enrollment college courses.

Lea Ann Scales, MWCC Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships, and program Director Melissa Bourque Silva, welcomed the students and role models to the presentation, held at Leominster High School.

Students, like aspiring pediatric oncologist Hellen Muma, said they found the event “inspiring” and “amazing.” Elizabeth O’Neil, a sophomore in the health occupations program, felt encouraged by the forum’s theme of encouraging students to forge their own paths one step at a time.

“I thought it was really great because I’m questioning what I want to do in healthcare. It’s comforting to know that I’m going to find what I want to do and help people in the future.”

Bourque-Silva encouraged the students to take advantage of opportunities as they appear. “Time and time again, we all think it’s a straight line from A to B. Everyone has their own path. I hope you all realize what power and promise you have to make a difference in the world, and I also hope you leave here feeling empowered and confident in yourselves, who you are, and who you can become.”

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Mentors recognized by MWCC students during this year’s Women’s HerStory Project include, from left: Michelle Contey, Amy LaBarge, Sue Blain, Joyce Kulig, Maryann Kane, Sara Williams, Eveliz Rivera-White, Susan Guartafierro, Emily Carr, Denise Whitney and Lea Ann Scales. Missing from photo: Melissa Manzi and Donna Tully.

Faculty and staff members who play an instrumental role in the lives of MWCC students were recognized on March 24 during the college’s annual Women’s Appreciation Day. The celebration capped a month-long of activities and events in celebration of Women’s History Month.

For the eighth year, students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism I class have interviewed and written feature articles on women who are making a difference in the lives of others. The mentors recognized through the Women’s HerStory Project are nominated by MWCC students.

This year’s honorees are: Sue Blain, Advisor; Emily Carr, Adjunct Professor, Graphic & Interactive Design; Michelle Contey, Academic Counselor; Susan Guartafierro, Admissions Office Clerk; Maryann Kane, Early Childhood Education Professor; Joyce Kulig, Retention Specialist with the Visions Program; Amy LaBarge, Academic/Disabilities Counselor; Melissa Manzi, Mental Health Counselor; Eveliz Rivera-White, Financial Aid Advisor; Lea Ann Scales, Vice President of External Affairs, Communications & K-12 Partnerships; Donna Tully, Associate Professor of Nursing; Denise Whitney, Administrative Assistant in the Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development; Sara Williams, Management Assistant with the Visions and Rx programs.

Their photographs and inspiring stories are on display in the South Café throughout the month.

 

 

 

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEight recent graduates of Athol High School visited their alma mater to share advice with juniors and seniors about making the transition to college.

The annual Alumni Breakfast forum, held March 18 and sponsored by the high school guidance department and Mount Wachusett Community College’s Division of Access & Transition, covered a wide range of topics including selecting a school and a major, financing an education, study habits, course load, time management, dorm life and adjusting to roommates.

Pictured, front row, from left: Amber Young, a health sciences major at New England College, Devin Willard, a chemical engineering major at UMass Dartmouth and MaRyea Jennings, a business administration major at Mount Wachusett Community College. Back row, from left, MWCC Academic Counselor Steve Ringer; Jimmy Hughes, a business administration major at UMass Amherst and MWCC alumnus; Jamie Posk, an aviation major at Bridgewater State University; Ari Baker, a video game design major at Monteserrat College of Art; Brianna DeStefano a liberal arts major at MWCC; and Mark Batchelor, a history major at Salem State University.