VVA donation to MWCC student vet scholarships Oct 2015

Members of the Gardner-based Chapter 907 of the Vietnam Veterans of American recently donated $2,000 to the MWCC Foundation to support scholarships for veterans. Pictured from left, chapter executive board members Charles Hodgkinson and Jay Ringquist, MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, chapter vice president Jim Benton and chapter treasurer Dan Ninno.

Members of Gardner-based Chapter 907 of the Vietnam Veterans of America recently donated $2,000 to the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

“On behalf of Mount Wachusett Community College and the MWCC Foundation, we are most grateful for this generous contribution from our local Vietnam Veterans of America members, and for their continued support of our student veterans,” said Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli.

The Veterans Memorial Scholarship was established to assist student veterans and ensure that their service and sacrifices will not be forgotten. Scholarship funds are awarded to new or returning full-time students who were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, or are currently serving in the Reserves or National Guard.



Linda CoyneMount Wachusett Community College is offering free workshops this fall for adult learners interested in earning a college degree.

MWCC’s Adult College Experience (ACE) program features a variety of workshops designed to guide adult learners through the steps of applying for college and financial aid, selecting courses, managing coursework and balancing school with work and family life. All participants attending the first session will receive a free gift, and participants attending all four workshops will be eligible to win a free, three-credit course.

“Each year, millions of adult students return to college to expand their career options, change careers, or fulfill a long-held dream of earning a degree. We developed the ACE program at Mount Wachusett to provide students with a roadmap to follow to make their transition to higher education as seamless as possible,” said Marcia Rosbury-Henne, Dean of Admissions and Enrollment.

The four-session ACE program, geared toward adult learners age 24 and above, starts Thursday, Nov. 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with the workshop “Beginning Your College Journey.” During this workshop, students will review the application and enrollment process and complete their application to begin classes in January during the spring 2016 semester. A panel of MWCC alumni who returned to college as adults balancing work, family and studies, will share their stories and answer questions.

The second session, “College Survival 101” will take place Thursday, Nov. 12 from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Participants will learn about the requirements of college courses and receive instruction on technology and other tools for achieving college success.

The session, “Getting Financial Aid & Enrollment Express,” will take place Thursday, Nov. 19 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Students will receive assistance reviewing and understanding the components of their financial aid package, including knowing the difference between loans, grants, scholarships and work study aid.

The series concludes on Thursday Dec. 3 with the session “Ready, Set, Go!” from 5:30 to 7 p.m. During this final session, students will develop the basis of their academic plan and develop a solid understanding of their program of study and the academic requirements for graduation. The session will end with a pizza party celebration and a drawing for a free, three-credit course.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment of students age 25 and above increased by 42 percent between 2000 and 2010 and is predicted to increase by another 20 percent by 2020. In comparison, enrollment of college students age 24 and under increased by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010, and is expected to increase 11 percent by 2020.

To register for MWCC’s free ACE program, contact the admissions office at 978-630-9110 or email Registration can also be completed online at

Frankenscience Oct 14 2015 Lara Dowland

Dr. Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology / biomanufacturing program, led a discussion on cloning during the free forum on contemporary science.

The ethics of cloning humans, genetically modified food on our dinner tables and an Italian surgeon’s claim he’ll perform the first human head transplantation in 2017 were among the topics raised during “Frankenscience? The Myths and Realities of Contemporary Science,” a free presentation led by MWCC science professors on Oct. 14 in the Levi Heywood Memorial Library.

Dr. Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology/biomanufacturing program presented on cloning. Dr. Thomas Montagno, Professor of Biology, presented on genetically modified food, Carrie Arnold presented on transplantation, and Heather Conn presented on the history of prosthetics, beginning 3,000 years ago with an artificial toe invented in Egypt.

Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project,  continues with a free panel presentation and discussion on contemporary science.

The second year of the Humanities Project, “Myths, Monsters, and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy,” takes an in-depth look at Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, and its relevance in today’s world. Throughout the year, free events are taking place at the college’s Gardner campus and in the community at public libraries and other venues. The MWCC Humanities Project is funded through a matching $500,000 grant the college received from the National Endowment for the Humanities to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum throughout North Central Massachusetts.

For more information about upcoming events, visit


MWCC Kaila-SecPeyser-CommSantiago

MWCC Student Kaila Lundgren shared the stage with Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, left, and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago at the Department of Higher Education’s first Go Higher! event of the academic year.

Kaila Lundgren, a Pre-Healthcare Academy student at Mount Wachusett Community College, shared the stage with Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago during the state’s first Go Higher! event, held Sept. 24 at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School.

Lundgren, a 2015 graduate of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, told an assembly of 350 seniors that she was inspired to become a registered nurse to help her 7-year-old brother, who lives courageously with a rare, chronic kidney stone disease called cystinuria, and by her mother, who became an RN after studying at one of Massachusetts’ community college while raising a family of five children.

One of six student speakers, Lundgren said she chose MWCC because of its fast-track option into the college’s nursing program through its Pre-Healthcare Academy. Following a year of earning good grades in co-requisite courses, including anatomy & physiology, psychology and statistics, she and other academy students are immediately accepted into the healthcare program of their choice at MWCC. In less than three years, she will be graduating with her nursing degree and practicing in a field she loves, she said.

Lundgren, who also coaches field hockey at Mahar, advised the students to pursue their dreams.

“Follow your heart.”

Go Higher!, previously known as Go Public! gives Massachusetts high school students a chance to discover the programs and opportunities available at the state’s 29 public college and university campuses. The event at Monty Tech launched a series of statewide events that will take place at various high schools throughout the academic year to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.

Secretary Peyser encouraged the high school audience to take a close look at the Commonwealth’s 29 public community colleges and universities for the abundance of program options that cost a fraction of private institutions.

“Massachusetts public higher education has a program and a course of study for you. Like all things in life, you get out what you put in,” he said.

Commissioner Santiago noted that two-thirds of all college students in Massachusetts are enrolled in the state’s public institutions. “College will transform you,” he said.

Monty Tech Superintendent Sheila Harrity and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education hosted the event, which was also attended by State Rep. Stephen DiNatale.

In addition to Lundgren, students representing UMass Lowell, Fitchburg State University, Worcester State University, Quinsigamond Community College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy also spoke about their college experiences.



advanced manufacturingMount Wachusett Community College will celebrate the third annual National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2 with a free event featuring demonstrations, guest speakers and tours of the college’s Manufacturing Workforce Certification Center and Devens campus.

Manufacturing Day was established in 2012 to help change public perception of manufacturing and underscore the shortage of skilled workers in Massachusetts and in the country. MWCC’s celebration provides an opportunity for the public to learn about Massachusetts manufacturing initiatives involving the college’s business partners, as well as view and participate in demonstrations showcasing current and upcoming programs.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a light breakfast, followed by welcoming remarks from MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and a presentation of manufacturing partnerships awards by Jacqueline Belrose, MWCC Vice President of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development, and Dennis Bunnell, chair of the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Board.

Featured speakers include Thatcher Kezer, MassDevelopment’s senior vice president of Devens, and State Representative Susannah Whipps-Lee. Demonstrations from 10:30 to noon will include CAD design & 3-D printing, mechatronics, a manufacturing aptitude challenge, biotechnology and quality. Information about MWCC’s manufacturing training programs and admissions will also be available.

Serving as a networking and informational event, the expo brings together industry representatives and job seekers. Attendees can tour the manufacturing and skills-training labs and participate in hands-on exercises and individual information sessions. The event is being sponsored, in part, through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT III) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“We are proud to once again sponsor an event in recognition of National Manufacturing Day to raise awareness about the job opportunities available in North Central Massachusetts and the industry partnerships that actively work to close the gap between trained workers and employer needs,” said President Daniel M. Asquino.

MWCC offers a variety of credit and noncredit STEM programs at its Devens campus, including the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Readiness Training program, Quality Systems Training, the Analytical Laboratory & Quality Systems and Mechatronics certificate programs, and associate degree and academic certificate programs in biotechnology/biomanufacturing.

To register, call the Devens campus at 978-630-9569 or email


Jackie Shakar, chair of MWCC's Physical Therapist Assistant program, recently returned from a teaching opportunity in Italy.

Professor Jackie Shakar, chair of MWCC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program, recently returned from a teaching opportunity in Italy.

MWCC Physical Therapist Assistant students began classes this semester with an international instructor.

Professor Jackie Shakar, chair of MWCC’s PTA program, spent a portion of her summer break teaching the Graston Technique to colleagues in Italy. She has been a Graston Technique instructor for over 10 years, typically teaching one seminar a month throughout the U.S. This was the first time she had the opportunity to teach in another country.

“I had a great time teaching in Italy and it was an excellent learning experience, as it was the first time that I had to use an interpreter,” she said.

The Graston Technique is an instrument-assisted system of soft tissue mobilization typically used by physical therapists and their assistants, athletic trainers, occupational therapists and their assistants and chiropractors.

As a physical therapist, Shakar uses GT extensively with her patients. In her classes at MWCC, she teaches a unit on soft tissue mobilization and introduces students to the Graston Technique.

A physical therapist since 1983, Shakar has taught at the college level since 1988, including the past 20 years at MWCC. She earned a master’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University in 1983 and later returned to Mass General Institute of Health Professions to receive her transitional doctoral degree.

In addition to teaching, she maintains a part-time clinical practice primarily in neuromusculoskeltal physical therapy. She currently see patients at Central Mass Physical Therapy and Wellness in West Boylston.


Frankenstein image - JPG

An image of Frankenstein’s creature created by Mount Wachusett Community College Graphic and Interactive Design alumnus Dylan Safford.

This month, the Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project begins its second year with “Myths, Monsters, and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy,” an in-depth look at Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, and its relevance in today’s world.Throughout the year, free events will take place at the college’s Gardner campus and in the community at public libraries and other venues. The MWCC Humanities Project is funded through a matching $500,000 grant the college received from the National Endowment for the Humanities to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum throughout North Central Massachusetts.

Like many great works of science fiction, Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, explores what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world. Published nearly 200 years ago when the author was just 20 years old, the novel tells the tale about young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in a scientific experiment.

The impact of Shelley’s novel has prevailed into the modern era, spawning countless interpretations, retellings, and inspirations, yet it bears little resemblance to the Hollywood adaptions that have dominated popular culture for decades, said Professor Michelle Valois, the coordinator of the Humanities Project.

“If, when you think Frankenstein, you think only of a grotesquely disfigured giant of a man who grunts and groans, then you only know half the story,” Valois said. “Though a work of the imagination, Mary Shelley’s novel offers an approach to these philosophical and ethical questions: Can science go too far? What does it mean to play God? How do we tolerate difference? Who are the real monsters?”

Fall events begin with a book discussion on Shelley’s Frankenstein, led by MWCC English Professors Michelle Valois, Susan Blake and Lorie Donahue, on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the college’s LaChance Library.

A panel presentation, “Frankenscience? The Myths and Realities of Contemporary Science,” will take place Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner. Panelists include Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology/biomanufacturing program, and MWCC biology professors Thomas Montagno, Carrie Arnold and Heather Conn.

On Oct. 20, Fitchburg State University film and English Professor Joseph Moser will present “Monsters on the Big Screen.” The lecture will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in MWCC’s North Café.

Members of the college community will participate in A Halloween Hike for the Humanities, a fundraiser for the matching NEH grant, on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton.

Events continue on November 5 with a screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in MWCC’s North Cafe; a lecture “Mary Shelley: The Woman Behind the Monster,” with Tufts University Professor Sonia Hofkosh on Nov. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the Leominster Public Library; and a brown bag lunch discussion,What Makes a Monster?” on Nov. 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at MWCC’s Gardner campus, room 345.

Spring semester events include “Historical Perspectives on Frankenstein” with Mount Holyoke Professor Robert Schwartz at MWCC’s Gardner campus; a presentation at the Fitchburg Art Museum by Elizabeth Young, author of Black Frankenstein: the Making of an American Metaphor; a Monster Movie Marathon at the Leominster Public Library featuring James Whales 1931 classic Frankenstein and Kenneth Branagh’s  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; a lecture, “Girls and Their Ghost Stories: Feminism, Philosophy and Frankenstein,” at the Athol Public Library; and a film screening of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For more information visit



CJ Husselbee

2014 graduate CJ Husselbee, who began his studies as a high school student, is featured in the DHE’s video on dual enrollment.

As nearly 300,000 students return to Massachusetts’ community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses this week, the Department of Higher Education (DHE) awarded competitive grants to increase access to college by students across the Commonwealth.

Twenty-five campuses, including Mount Wachusett, were awarded grants through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP). The program expands the state’s dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college courses and earn credit for free or at a reduced cost. CDEP funding increased from $750,000 in FY15 to $1 million in FY16. MWCC was awarded a $50,000 grant.

The DHE has set a goal of increasing dual enrollment from 2,000 to 3,400 students and is using a new dual enrollment video, outreach to high schools, and social media to promote opportunities on campuses. MWCC alumnus Charles “CJ” Husselbee, who is completing his bachelor’s degree in accounting this semester at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, is among the featured students in the video.

“Increasing collaboration between high schools and higher education is important to making a college education more affordable and creating more opportunities for students across the Commonwealth to succeed in college and their careers,”  Governor Charlie Baker said when announcing the grants. “These awards also present opportunities for college campuses and their regional partners to focus creatively on boosting college completion rates and advancing more students from diverse and underserved populations.”

Yoav Elinevsky

Professor Yoav Elinevsky, chair of MWCC’s Math Department, and his partners in the college’s Math Modeling Initaitve, Patrice Lincoln and Veronica Guay, are among this year’s Innovation Fund grant recipients.

With the start of the new academic year, the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation, Inc. has provided funds totaling $32,000 for five innovative projects conceived by college faculty and staff.

“The Innovation Fund allows us to financially support inventive staff and faculty and give them the opportunity to implement their concepts.” MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli. “We applaud all of the applicants for embracing innovative practices and aligning their proposals with the college’s strategic plan.”

The college’s Math Modeling Academic Initiative, which is designed to increase the college and career readiness of high school graduates, will expand during this academic year through a proposal presented by Professor Yoav Elinevsky, Patrice Lincoln, Dean of Access and Transition, and Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Math.

Math Modeling began in fall 2013 with seniors at Leominster High School and Leominster High School Center for Technical Education Innovation. Last year, the project expanded to include seniors at Fitchburg High School and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School. During this academic year, the 2016 Math Modeling cohort is expected to exceed 500 students as Gardner, Athol and Murdock High Schools join the partnerships.

Margaret Jaillet, Assistant Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences, was awarded a grant to expand the college’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course offerings by purchasing a second set of training equipment. MWCC’s Basic Emergency Technicians program provides students with the opportunity to become state and nationally certified. Purchasing a second set of equipment will allow the college to double the EMT offerings and expand enrollment.

Veterans Services Director Robert Mayer received funding to purchase two laptop computers to implement the TeleHealth Computerized Health Assistance program for student veterans. As part of its VITAL program, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides electronic “face-to-face” health consultations with veterans who are unable to travel to Northhampton or Bedford VA hospital sites.

Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement was awarded a grant to initiate an international service project this academic year. The project will provide students with an opportunity to contextualize classroom learning through international service.

Professor Michelle Valois received a grant to support the MWCC Humanities Project, which is now beginning its second year. The Humanities Project engages students and the community, supports inter-disciplinary teaching and learning, strengthens the humanities at the college, and collaborates with community partners to bring lectures, discussions, and other events to the public.

Photo caption – With assistance from the MWCC Foundation, the college’s Math Modeling Program will expand to more high schools this academic year.

Musicians at the Mount New student orientation Sept 1 2015

Incoming MWCC student Ruben Figueiredo visits with  Musicians at the Mount club members Mike MacLean, with guitar, and Trevor Hanson during the college’s orientation for new students. MWCC’s academic year begins on September 2.

More than 1,000 new Mount Wachusett Community College students earned accolades for deciding to invest in their future through higher education, during a series of orientation sessions hosted by the college. Sessions were offered for day and evening students, veterans, dual enrollment students and students enrolled in specific healthcare programs.

A majority of the incoming day students attended orientation on September 1 in advance of classes beginning Wednesday, September 2 at MWCC’s main campus in Gardner, satellite campuses in Leominster, Devens and Fitchburg, and online.

President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators welcomed the group with advice ranging from ways to achieve academic success to navigating around the main campus while a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building is under construction and other campus renovations are underway.

When completed next year, the renovations and new building will transform the college and enhance the academic experience for all students, he said.

Coordinated by the office of Student Life, the orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs and activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about campus resources, and attended a student club expo. The event also included a presentation by national motivational speaker Jermaine M. Davis. He encouraged the students to identify their passion in life and then persevere until they achieve their goals.

“As you achieve your goals, your life will inspire other people,” said Davis, who also delivered a presentation to faculty in the afternoon.

“There are not too many opportunities in our lives when we can take the time and energy to invest in ourselves. This is one of those times for you,” said Dean of Students Jason Zelesky, adding that the college community recognizes each students as individuals. “You matter. Your success matters. And we want nothing more than to watch you grown and to see you achieve your educational goals.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs Melissa Fama, Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement, Student Government Association President Carrie DeCosta, and Student Trustee Tom Berger also were among the featured speakers.