Academics

Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton briefs practical nursing students following the completion of disaster training at MWCC's Devens campus.

Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton briefs practical nursing students following the completion of disaster training at MWCC’s Devens campus. The mannequin was one of five requiring treatment in a tornado simulation that also included two participating MWCC professors.

After months of preparation, teams of Mount Wachusett Community College practical nursing students tended to hospital “patients” further injured as a result of a simulated tornado.

The Nov. 7 disaster simulation at MWCC’s Devens campus included five lifelike mannequins and two professors with varying afflictions, debris strewn across the floor, and tornado sound effects. Impending graduates applied skills gained through nearly two years of nursing coursework, as well as a lecture on emergency response and public health issues by Judy O’Donnell of Wachusett Medical Corps.

“We need to get students ready for disaster situations. This is the culmination of what has gone on since January,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Collene Thaxton, who led two separate simulations, each consisting of a rescue and triage team. “We really stress the importance of communication in disasters because you never know what to expect.”

With 15 minutes to complete the simulation, student rescue teams diagnosed and provided preliminary treatment to patients based on the severity of their injuries. Rescue teams then transported patients by stretcher to nearby triage teams for further treatment, including CPR, blood work and the dressing of wounds.

“I was nervous at first, but once I started, I got into nursing mode,” said Ari-Ann Ashley, a member of the first rescue team. “I feel that now I have an idea of what to do if something like this actually happened in the real world.”

“My mind was racing, but I tried to keep it together and figure out who to triage first,” said Isabelle Mascary, a member of the second triage team. “I think this helps students because it puts us in a situation we haven’t been in before, and we can figure out what went wrong and what we can do better.”

Additional nursing students participated in disaster simulations on Nov. 14.

- Cameron Woodcock

Three Murdock High School seniors are earning MWCC academic certificates through the Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech Scholarship program. Pictured, from left, Andrew Phelps, Amber Dignan, Melanie Cranfill, andCVTE Transition Counselor and student advisor Shaunti Phillips.

Three Murdock High School seniors are earning MWCC academic certificates through the Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech Scholarship program. Pictured, from left, Andrew Phelps, Amber Dignan, Melanie Cranfill, andCVTE Transition Counselor and student advisor Shaunti Phillips.

For the third consecutive year, Murdock High School seniors in the Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech Scholarship program are earning academic certificates at Mount Wachusett Community College while simultaneously finishing their diplomas.

Through a generous grant from the Winchendon-based Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, Amber Dignan and Melanie Cranfill are pursing MWCC certificates in allied health, and Andrew Phelps is working toward a certificate in computer information systems. Participants also earn certificates in automotive technology and accounting.

Created as a pathway to higher education, the one-year, dual-enrollment program provides full scholarships for Murdock High School students to earn workplace credentials and first-year credits toward corresponding associate-degree programs at MWCC.

“I chose to participate in this program because I wanted a change in my learning environment and wanted to get a head start in college,” said Cranfill.

“The program is an amazing opportunity to further my education at virtually no cost,” said Phelps. “I have learned that programs like this are wonderful things to try and work hard for because not everyone gets to have a year of college for free.”

Overseeing the program are Assistant Dean of Transitions Programming Deb Bibeau, MWCC Foundation Director Carla Zottoli, CVTE Transition Counselor and student advisor Shaunti Phillips, and Murdock High School guidance counselors Anne Marie Borsky and Rachel Weinhold.

The Murdock guidance counselors credit the Robinson-Broadhurst program with providing an opportunity to enhance offerings at the high school and give students a jumpstart on their college and career plans.

All five members of last year’s cohort earned a certificate in allied health. Three of these students are now enrolled in the Department of Higher Education’s STEM Starter Academy at MWCC.

“Being in the Robinson-Broadhurst dual-enrollment program and the STEM Starter Academy was seriously a life-changing experience,” said Dakota Wood, a 2014 graduate who is now pursuing a degree in health care. “I was exposed to what college was like while I could still participate in senior events. Plus, I graduated high school with a free year of college under my belt.”

CJ Husselbee, a first-generation college student and an initial participant in the Robinson-Broadhurst program, earned an associate degree in Business Administration from MWCC and transferred this fall to the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

“Before this, I didn’t know if I could afford college. The Robinson-Broadhurst program was really the difference between me going to college and not going.”

A 2014 study by the American Institutes for Research explored the correlation between access to early college and advancement in secondary and higher education. These students are five-percent more likely to graduate high school, 20-percent more likely to earn their college degrees simultaneously, 21-percent more likely to enroll in a two-year school and four-percent more likely to enroll in a four-year school.

- Cameron Woodcock

MWCC's new STEM building will advance its standing as a leader in STEM education.

MWCC’s new STEM building will advance its position as a leader in STEM education.

Following more than a year of extensive planning and design, Mount Wachusett Community College is preparing for the start of construction on a new $41 million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building. The 44,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the 40-year-old Arthur F. Haley Academic Center will bring MWCC to the forefront of STEM education.

“Construction is expected to begin in March,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “If all goes as planned, pre-construction work on the Haley Building will begin in December. Our students deserve the very best. This project supports trends in teaching and learning and reflects the national and statewide STEM initiatives while providing the best possible education for our students.”

The Commonwealth is investing $38 million in the project to support the academic needs in North Central Massachusetts. The project will be one of the largest in North Worcester County.

Amenities will include eight new classrooms and laboratories, four lab prep rooms, 24 new faculty offices, student study space and interior glass walls to highlight STEM student innovation. New laboratory equipment, including projection microscopes with 60-inch flat screen monitors, will be acquired through a $500,000 grant the college received from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet LEED certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building will contain energy-efficient features related to heating, exhaust, lighting and plumbing that will further reduce MWCC’s carbon footprint.

Upgrades to audio/visual equipment and enhanced wireless capabilities in labs and open areas, are also among the features, as well as a new 2,300-square-foot greenhouse for science programs. Improvements to the Haley Academic Center also will include a new visitor entrance, a multi-purpose room, an academic advising suite, a refurbished student-centered campus hub and increased accessibility to the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering student Casey Bortle pilots the college’s new drone during a Math Modeling Initiative presentation to 350 area high school seniors.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering student Casey Bortle pilots the college’s new drone during a Math Modeling Initiative presentation to 350 area high school seniors.

Mount Wachusett Community College lauded the 350 high school students participating in this year’s Math Modeling Initiative and encouraged them to explore the opportunities available through a college education.

As part of the Oct. 29 event, students and teachers from partnering institutions Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Fitchburg High School, Leominster High School and Leominster’s Center for Technical Education Innovation witnessed the unveiling of MWCC’s new quadcopter drone.

Through the initiative, MWCC offers the Modeling in Mathematics course to provide essential skills to high school seniors who require developmental math education. The free course emphasizes complex problem solving and the application of math in everyday life and eliminates the need for students to take remedial mathematics upon entering college.

“I want to congratulate you for getting a head start on your mathematics education and thank the faculty and staff who commit to your welfare,” MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said during his opening remarks. “Our goal is to help you become college-ready so that you can move on to earn your degrees. Math has traditionally been an impediment to students, but by being college-ready, you will be unique.”

Led by MWCC Professor and Math Department Chair Yoav Elinevsky, educators from MWCC’s Access & Transition and Academic Affairs divisions and LHS developed the initiative as a pilot program in 2012. After 116 LHS seniors initially took one of six Modeling in Mathematics sections, MWCC expanded the initiative for the 2014-2015 academic year to include Monty Tech and Fitchburg High.

“Congratulations on being so close to graduating high school and preparing yourself for college and the job market,” Elinevsky said.

To promote the physics department and the importance of mathematics, faculty member Dr. Peter Olszak and students Adam Suzor and Casey Bortle led a demonstration of the quadcopter drone, which hovered for several minutes while displaying a live video feed.

Dean of Students Jason Zelesky, a first-generation college student, emphasized the importance of a college education as an investment in their future. Recruitment Counselor Natasha Robinson, Career/Vocational Education Transition Counselor Shaunti Phillips and Kijah Gordon, academic advisor for STEM programs, discussed the enrollment process, articulation agreements, and the college’s STEM Set Scholarships and STEM Starter Academy.

In addition, chairs from academic departments, including Dan Donovan from computer information systems, John Little from media arts & technology, and Tom Matsuda from art explained their respective programs. Students from the pilot course encouraged their successors to take advantage of the program and continue their educations after graduating high school.

- Cameron Woodcock

case_shawn

Shawn Case, Assistant Professor of Math, participates in Department of Higher Education’s #Memo2MA Twitter campaign highlighting the department’s 2014 Vision Project report.

At a time of rising demand for skilled college graduates in the Commonwealth, the Department of Higher Education’s third annual Vision Project report shows progress being made to raise graduation rates and close achievement gaps among public college and university students in Massachusetts, but also projects a shortage of skilled graduates needed to meet the needs of employers in key industry sectors that fuel economic growth, based on an expected drop in the state’s high school population in the coming years. 

“The Vision Project report provides state leaders with a road map that allows us to think and respond proactively to the issues in higher education we will face in the next decade,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone.”At the same time it allows us to celebrate achievements by our campuses and by the Patrick Administration. There are many points of progress contained in this report, and I am proud that our public colleges and universities share a vision for the future.”

Mount Wachusett Community College made continued strides during the year in several key areas, including new initiatives in area high schools and on campus to help close achievement gaps, such as a new Modeling in Mathematics program launched in three area high schools to prepare students for college-level math courses; the creation of a new bridge program to assist nontraditional students returning to college; and enhanced student support services for veterans, working parents, and students of all ages seeking degrees and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Additionally, advances in workforce development include new accelerated training programs in advanced manufacturing, continued partnerships with industry, and the creation of a Manufacturing Workforce Certification Center at its Devens campus.

“In order to enhance college access and student success, we work closely with our regional K-12 school systems, as well as provide robust, student-centered programs and initiatives on campus,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. MWCC’s new FY2015 to FY2017 strategic plan, “Embracing Transformation,” focuses on the college’s four strategic, college-wide goals – Access, Success, Learning, and Progress, and the plan is shaped by the key outcomes of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Vision Project, he said.

“Degrees of Urgency: Why Massachusetts Needs More College Graduates Now,” was released this morning before a group of 275 business and civic leaders gathered at the Boston Foundation.  The report, which can be accessed at http://www.mass.edu/visionproject, outlines system and campus-level achievements aligned with the Vision Project goal of leading nationally among state systems of public higher education.

Among the recent gains:

  • One-third of Massachusetts campuses are now meeting or exceeding the Vision Project goal for improvement in six-year graduation/success rates, increases that are well above the national and leading states’ averages.
  • At the University of Massachusetts and state university campuses, the six-year graduation rate gap between White and Latino/a students has narrowed.
  • At community colleges, the rate of enrollment in remedial coursework among Latino/a students has declined, a sign that collaborative work with high schools to align curriculum and close gaps is working.
  • The focus on workforce planning in high-growth industry sectors is yielding results; as an example, the report cites a 34% increase in nurses with bachelor’s degrees (2010-2013), important because research shows that higher education levels result in improved patient outcomes.
  • Mount Wachusett Community College’s was showcased in the report for being among the institutions that have improved student success rates above the national average, as well as its support for student veterans and military families.
  • MWCC alumnus Bryan Sanderson was featured in an article for his efforts to found the college’s Students Serving Our Service office, a peer-to-peer program that is administered through the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Along with citing progress, the report draws attention to a major challenge facing the Commonwealth: declining enrollments at public colleges and universities at a time when the state’s need for more college-educated workers has never been greater.

The report forecasts that by 2020, the system that now educates 70% of high school students who remain in state to attend college will be under-producing needed graduates by a minimum of 55,000 to 65,000, the result of enrollment declines that stem from a drop in the state’s high school population. Within six years, Massachusetts’ high school population will shrink by 9%, a shift from the previous decade which saw a 31% increase in the number of high school graduates. The prior growth helped fuel record enrollments at Massachusetts’ community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses, a boom which has now ended. This fall the public higher education system posted its first decline in enrollment in a decade.

“Today we put forth a major plan to address the state’s need for more college graduates,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This is vital work on behalf of the Commonwealth and we understand that we can only deliver the graduates Massachusetts needs if we are improving our overall academic performance, which campuses are striving to do, and if such efforts receive strong state support.”

At outlined by Commissioner Freeland at the Boston Foundation report release event, the “Big Three Completion Plan” to address the state’s need for more graduates focuses on 1) helping more students succeed in and complete college 2) redoubling efforts to close persistent achievement gaps that keep too many African American and Latino/a students from graduating, and 3) attracting and retaining students who are not being served by the system, including those who currently can’t afford to attend college, those who are choosing to attend college out of state, and adult students who need to finish their degrees.

Despite recent investments by the Patrick Administration, decades of insufficient funding to Massachusetts public higher education have resulted in the Commonwealth ranking no better than average (currently, 26th in the nation) in state support for its public colleges and universities. A report released Tuesday by the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Finance Commission recommended that the public campuses receive significant additional funding tied to performance improvement, and that such support also be linked to campus efforts to achieve greater operating efficiencies.

“The particular needs of this state, more than many other states, demand a first class system of public higher education,” said Charles F. Desmond, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “If we hope to reap the economic dividends that come from being an educational leader, Massachusetts must make academic excellence at its public colleges and universities an even higher priority than it is right now.”

“There is clear consensus, Massachusetts must have a national top tier public higher education system to compete in our 21st century economy,” said the Co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Representative Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland.) “This means greater efficiency and collaboration on the part of our higher education institutions, and strategic investment on par with the states that lead the way in public higher education nationally. This effort will require support from every resident of our Commonwealth. We understand what must be done, and today we affirm the need to act.”

bionostics equipmentMassachusetts’ 15 community colleges have been awarded a $20 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to further state-wide initiatives addressing training and educational needs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

Led by Massasoit Community College, the Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM) project will use the national Complete College America Guided Pathways to Success model to assist eligible students in obtaining degrees and certificates in STEM fields. The model focuses on reducing the time to complete certificates and degree programs, thus increasing the number of students entering the state’s workforce and transferring to four-year schools.

During the three-year grant period, the consortium will create or enhance a total of 24 STEM degree options and 58 certificate programs, through partnerships with business and industry, the Commonwealth’s workforce system, state universities and UMass. These collaborative pipelines will help students seamlessly transfer into baccalaureate programs and meet industry demand in specific STEM fields.

Mount Wachusett will receive $525,000 to create and enhance certificate programs in career readiness, hospitality, cyber security, information technology and other areas. MWCC is also currently overseeing a $15.9 million TAACCCT grant awarded last fall to the college and partnering institutions in Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana to further training opportunities in advanced manufacturing.

The project will also build on the Career & College Navigator model, designed and implemented by the Massachusetts community colleges for the first round of TAACCCT funding in 2011.

“Creating key pipeline collaborations in the STEM fields in conjunction with the state universities and UMass will serve as a new model for creating comprehensive higher education and industry partnerships in the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hart, Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office.

The TAACCCT awards totaled $450 million to nearly 270 community colleges partnering with more than 400 employers nationally. The announcement made Oct. 3 by Vice President Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas speaks with Mount Wachusett Community College biotechnology students Dana Procell and Savannah Cooke during a tour of the college’s Devens campus Monday. The Congresswoman joined state and college officials to celebrate the start of Manufacturing Week.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas speaks with Mount Wachusett Community College biotechnology students Dana Procell and Savannah Cooke during a tour of the college’s Devens campus Monday. The Congresswoman joined state and college officials to celebrate the start of Manufacturing Week.

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian, and dozens of regional business and community leaders gathered at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Devens campus on Monday, Sept. 29 to celebrate the start of Manufacturing Week.

The event marked the success to date of a $15.9 million multi-year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant MWCC and three partnering schools in Ohio, Louisiana and Tennessee received last fall to develop and expand advanced manufacturing programs in partnership with industry.

Governor Deval Patrick proclaimed Sept. 29 through Oct. 3 as Advanced Manufacturing Week in Massachusetts, underscoring the administration’s support of the robust advanced manufacturing industry and its workforce throughout the Commonwealth. The week-long celebration coincides with national efforts to promote the role advanced manufacturing plays in the economy, with the third annual National Advanced Manufacturing Day being celebrated on October 3.

“It is both gratifying and timely to see North County manufacturing experiencing a renaissance,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are grateful for the Congressional assistance we received to be the lead institution with three other colleges to develop curriculum in conjunction with employers’ needs. We have seen 70-percent placement among our 82 graduates and are amazed at the opportunities in North Central Massachusetts for mid-level employees.”

As she visits companies throughout her district, Congresswoman Tsongas said she is “constantly struck by the level of innovation” she sees among industry and public partnerships. Mount Wachusett “is committed to educating the workforce, the young people and the not so young, is committed to being a partner with local businesses, and is mindful of the true manufacturing skillset needed,” she said.

“Manufacturing is thriving and growing in all parts of the state, not just in Boston,” Secretary Bialecki said. “Schools like Mount Wachusett are listening to businesses and understanding what it means to train people for 21st century advanced manufacturing careers.”

Secretary Kaprielian quipped that “every day should be manufacturing day” because of the industry’s enduring significance to the state’s economic development. “This is not your grandfather’s manufacturing, and it is not dirty, polluting or imported. It is knowledge-based with a career ladder,” she said. “Nowhere are you training people better than at the community college level. Mount Wachusett is an example for the rest of the state.”

President Asquino welcomes students and job seekers to the college’s Manufacturing Day expo, held Oct. 3 at the Devens campus.

President Asquino welcomes students and job seekers to the college’s Manufacturing Day expo, held Oct. 3 at the Devens campus.

The manufacturing week kick-off event included a tour of the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center and biotechnology labs. Speakers also included State Senator Jamie Eldridge, State Rep. Stephen DiNatale and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

The event also coincided with Monday’s White House announcement that the Massachusetts Community Colleges Consortia will receive an additional $20 million grant under the final round of TAACCCT funding. The 15-member group, led by Massasoit Community College, received the grant to continue advancing state-wide initiatives addressing the training and educational needs in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare. The Consortium was awarded the highest-funded of 66 U.S. DOL grants.

At MWCC, the new round of funding will be used to create and enhance certificate programs in career readiness, hospitality, cyber security, information technology and other areas.

In recognition of National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3, MWCC’s Devens campus hosted an Advanced Manufacturing Career Expo. Attendees toured the manufacturing and skills-training labs and participated in hands-on exercises and individual information sessions.

Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer with student veterans during this fall's orientation.

Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer with student veterans during this fall’s orientation.

For the sixth consecutive year, Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized as a top military-friendly school for creating a culture of positive energy and academic support for veterans, active military members and their dependents.

The 2015 Military Friendly Schools list, released by Victory Media, names the top 15 percent of American colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace military students and ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. Now in its sixth year, the list serves as the primary resource for service members and military families seeking education and captures best practices among schools in supporting military students.

The list features 1,600 institutions and was compiled through research and a data-driven survey of more than 8,000 schools approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill funding. Qualifying campuses will be featured in the G.I. Jobs Guide to Military Friendly Schools, among other Victory Media publications.

“It is our responsibility to foster an environment in which student veterans can thrive, both in the classroom and on campus,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This award is a testament to our student veterans who courageously serve our country and then make the decision to transition to college life. We also have a wonderful staff in the Center of Excellence for Veteran Affairs and a supportive group of faculty and students.”

“This title we’ve received is not in name only; we’ve earned that status,” said Veterans Services Director Robert Mayer.

A designated Yellow Ribbon School with a long history of supporting veterans, MWCC was cited for the wrap-around support provided through the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success and the Veterans Group student club, an affiliate of the Student Veterans of America.

Established in 2010 the veterans success center now serves more than 350 students each year, addressing the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs of veterans, military personnel and military families transitioning to college life.

“The college has an excellent support team for veterans, and Bob is very involved in helping us succeed,” said Tom Berger, a business administration major who served in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 1998. “I enjoy being part of this peer group of students and getting involved in the college and local community.”

In August 2013, MWCC became one of the first 250 higher-education institutions to implement President Obama’s “8 Keys to Success” initiative to help boost academic opportunities and improvement employment outcomes for veterans. The eight keys build on the administration’s work to provide veterans and military families with a high-quality, affordable education and highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals.

In MWCC’s sixth year of recognition as a military-friendly school and service through the Veterans’ Success Center, and second year of implementing the “8 Keys,” its staff is still poised to increase the breadth of services to veterans.

- Cameron Woodcock

Gardner resident Phillip Stan, center, was recently sworn in as student trustee on Mount Wachusett Community College’s Board of Trustees. President Daniel Asquino and board Chair Tina Sbrega were among the college officials who congratulated Stan during a ceremony at the college on Sept. 11.

Gardner resident Phillip Stan, center, was recently sworn in as student trustee on Mount Wachusett Community College’s Board of Trustees. President Daniel Asquino and board Chair Tina Sbrega were among the college officials who congratulated Stan during a ceremony at the college on Sept. 11.

Phillip Stan, a liberal arts major with a concentration in music, has been appointed to Mount Wachusett Community College’s Board of Trustees after being elected to the one-year position by his student peers this past spring.

The chamber music enthusiast and father of five was sworn in as the college’s student trustee on the afternoon of Sept. 11 and attended his first board meeting immediately following the ceremony.

Adding to his standing as a student leader on campus, Stan will represent fellow MWCC students on the 11-member board, a role he relishes.

“I want to serve as student trustee for the same reason I want to be involved with campus clubs and organizations. I enjoy being part of something bigger than myself and feel that the students need a strong voice to accurately represent their desires,” he said.

“We are very pleased that Phil will be serving as our student trustee this academic year, as his track record of academic achievement and student engagement is well-documented,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Phil takes an active role not only in his own success, but in that of others.”

At MWCC, Stan serves in a range of leadership roles. He is vice president of civic and community engagement for the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, a member of both the Commonwealth Honors Program and the organization’s planning committee and a mentor in the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program within the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. He also previously mentored children in the House of Peace and Education’s afterschool program in Gardner.

In addition, he is president of the MWCC Chamber Players club, an all-encompassing position that sees him arranging events, namely a 2013 trip to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and building a chamber ensemble to stage concerts every semester. MWCC’s new student trustee is also an accomplished pianist, guitar player and singer.

However, Stan’s career goals are not purely musical.

“Ultimately, I’d love to work with autistic children through music instruction and exposure,” said Stan, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Anna Maria College, his mother’s alma mater, after graduating from MWCC next spring. “I have a child at home with special needs, and I believe that music is a great way to facilitate communication with those who can’t communicate conventionally.”

With a busy college schedule and five children at home, Stan says he owes a great deal of credit to his wife Jennifer, whose enduring support has allowed him to succeed at MWCC.

As student trustee, Stan plans to apply his varied experience in civic engagement and mentorship to help students succeed in college, as well as benefit MWCC.

“I am very outgoing and not afraid to try new things or get people involved in new things,” said Stan, who, on the day of his appointment, fittingly helped freshman students gain signatures for Student Government Association candidacy. “I strongly believe in the importance of civic engagement and college completion, and these two things are a big part of what I would like to bring to MWCC.”

- Cameron Woodcock
_MG_6094

MWCC art major Amber Martinez participates in a Raku firing at Snow Farm Craft Center in Williamsburg, Mass. With funding provided by the MWCC Foundation, the art department will create an area on the Gardner campus for Raku and pit-firing ceramics.

With the start of the new academic year, the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation has provided funds totaling $46,044 for eight innovative projects conceived by college faculty and staff.

“Current community college funding is such that we are often left wishing we had more resources to experiment with new and innovative pilot programs that have the potential to dramatically alter or create new opportunities for our students and the community,” said MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse. “The Innovation Fund allows us to financially support inventive staff and faculty and give them the opportunity to implement their concepts.”

Dean of Students Jason Zelesky will collaborate with the offices of Disability Services, Student Services and the Visions program to acquire new adaptive technology equipment to support students with documented disabilities. Enhancing the college’s inventory of assistive technologies will enhance academic success and encourage more students with disabilities to attend MWCC. The project will emphasize iOS applications and provide five iPads for student use in the classroom and during tutoring sessions.

Art Professor Joyce Miller received funding to create a program and fundraiser centered on Raku, a pottery tradition dating back to 16thcentury Japan. Available to art majors and non-art majors, as well as credit and noncredit students, the equipment will enhance the college’s art department to further attract prospective students. An exterior area will be designated for Raku and pit-firing ceramics. In addition to supporting the college’s art program, the equipment will support area high school art programs and their students by offering field trip opportunities and chances to participate in pit-firing or Raku firing, which in turn will assist with college recruitment.

Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics, and Perkins Counselor Shaunti Phillips, Career Vocational/Technical Education, will receive funding to create a new dual enrollment program for Gardner High School seniors interested in graphic and interactive design. Guay and Phillips will partner with Professor Leslie Cullen, chair of the Graphic & Interactive Design department; Natasha Robinson, Recruitment Counselor for the Admissions office; and members of the Gardner High School system.

Interim Director of Admissions Ai Co Abercrombie was awarded a grant to develop a peer-to-peer recruitment program, specifically targeting first-time students from traditionally underrepresented population groups: low-income and minority students and students with disabilities. The Admissions office plans to employ two student recruiters, one of traditional college age and one of non-traditional college age, who will accompany admissions representatives to college fairs, events and community activities and perform additional recruitment tasks.

Director of Student Success Debra Boucher received funding for a new program supporting non-traditional students as they transition to college life. The first portion of this program, a summer bridge session for non-traditional students and students returning to school following a five-year absence, took place in August. Incoming students learned about available resources at the college, while also participating in team-building activities. The program will continue this fall, as students attend two meetings to evaluate their college experiences and participate in leadership-building activities. Boucher is partnering with Student Services, the Visions program, the Advising Center and the Admissions office.

Lauren Mountain, Associate Director of the United Way Youth Venture in the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, received funding to further develop immersive learning opportunities for MWCC students. Along with her colleagues in the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, Mountain will use funding to support student ventures that create tangible changes in the community and at the college, similar to the Youth Venture program that has long served middle and high school students. This initiative is designed to promote retention and involvement at MWCC, enhance the educational experience for students, and provide them with community contacts and job skills.

Professor Sheila Murphy will partner with the Admissions office to further promote the benefits of the Honors Program and increase awareness among incoming students. By continuing to shape and market this honors culture, Murphy hopes to attract prospective students to MWCC and motivate them to participate in the many challenging degree programs. Further program goals include emerging as a top destination for students who excel in high school. To increase first-year student enrollment and eligibility for the Honors Program, Murphy will also partner with the Marketing and Communications department and the Dual Enrollment program.

Associate Professor John Little, chair of the Media Arts and Technology department, will receive funds to enlist students to record and produce concert DVDs. The project will build upon previous concert recording initiatives and will serve to promote the academic program, as well as provide service learning and entrepreneurship opportunities for students. Little will collaborate Theatre at the Mount as well as the Graphic and Interactive Design, Media Services, and Marketing and Communications departments.