Academics

Summer UP 2014 Gardner

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke and Gardner Superintendent Denise Clemens are thanked by members of MWCC’s Access & Transition staff, camp counselors and participants at the Jackson Playground site.

Summer UP, an MWCC Access & Transition program that began a decade ago to provide safe, summertime activities and employment opportunities to area youth, enhanced this year’s program with new career and college preparation training opportunities.

Now completing its 10th season, Summer UP this year provided 110 of area high school and middle school students with jobs as camp counselors at eight park sites in Leominster, Fitchburg, and Gardner. The counselors, who earn a stipend, worked with MWCC staff to provide supervised recreation activities for approximately 500 area school children of all ages, who attend the free activities.

“We’ve made a lot of modifications this year,” said Patrice Lincoln, Dean of Access and Transition. Among the changes for the program’s counselors, high school juniors and seniors enrolled in free summer dual enrollment courses, and the Commonwealth Corps’ 20-hour Signaling Success employment training program is now incorporated into the counselor training, along with park safety training, college preparation opportunities, and field trips.

Visitors during the five week program included Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke and Gardner’s new Superintendent of Schools Denise Clemens at the Jackson Park site, as well as town and school officials in Leominster.

In operation since the summer of 2005, Summer UP is a collaborative effort between MWCC’s Division of Access and Transition, the Mayors’ offices of the cities of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner, as well as various community based agencies. While providing safe recreational spaces for five weeks each summer, the program was designed to lower risky behavior and increase employment opportunities for area students. The objectives are to increase leadership, citizenship and college readiness skills for students and to ensure a safe, healthy, summer experience for at-risk children. MWCC staff assists youth employees in implementing daily craft, sports, and reading activities at each park site.

 

manufacturingThe long-standing collaboration between MWCC, the North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, and industry is showcased as a model demonstrating best practices for building and sustaining regional partnership in a new video created by the Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy (AMRPA).

MWCC, known for its well established partnerships with corporations such as Nypro and Bristol-Myers Squibb and the recipient of a recent $15.9 million, multi-state grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, is featured in the video along with the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, the North Central Workforce Investment Board and Nypro, Inc.

MWCC’s vice President of Lifelong Learning Jacqueline Belrose; Dean of Workforce Development John Henshaw; Kathleen Kirby, National Consortium Project Manager of of the TAACCCT-funded Advanced Manufacturing & Quality Consortium, are among the college officials interviewed in the video. The video was one of three unveiled during an AMRPA meeting in June.

The academy brings together manufacturers, workforce investment boards and academia to help regions throughout the state develop sustainable and effective partnerships that respond to industry needs.

Established by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2013 to accelerate the adoption of best practices, capacity building and industry engagement, the academy is a collaborative effort of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Executive Office of Education, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and the University of Massachusetts. The academy is funded by MassDevelopment through the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Fund.

 

 

Linda Coyne

Linda Coyne has enrolled in MWCC’s new Health Information Management program to blend her existing computer technology experience with her emerging interest in healthcare.

Mount Wachusett Community College is rolling out several new and revised academic programs to prepare students for a wide range of careers.

“We’re excited about these new opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “The new and redesigned programs will serve needs expressed by local employers and students will be better prepared to enter the workforce or transfer, so this is a win-win for our region.”

Health Information Management, Hospitality, Cyber Security, Analytical Laboratory and Quality Systems, and Liberal Arts programs with STEM concentrations in biological science, chemical science, physics and pre-engineering are among the additional degree and certificate offerings available when the new academic year begins in September.

Existing programs that underwent changes to align with the most current industry trends include Graphics and Interactive Design (formerly Computer Graphic Design-Print/Web); Media Arts and Technology (formerly Broadcasting & Electronic Media); Energy Management; and Medical Coding.

As part of college initiatives focused on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Mount Wachusett has added new concentrations in these disciplines to its existing Liberal Arts and Sciences programs.

The Liberal Arts Biological Science concentration provides students with the first two years of a typical biology program so they can transfer into a bachelor’s degree program as juniors. This associate degree may also be used as a pre-professional program for aspiring physicians, veterinarians, dentists, and pharmacists.

Similarly, the Liberal Arts Chemical Sciences and Liberal Arts with Physics or Pre-Engineering provides students the first two years of a standard college courses in preparation for transfer into four-year programs as juniors and ensuing careers.

In response to new federal laws regulating how medical records and medical coding structures are maintained, MWCC has developed an associate degree program in the expanding field of Health Information Management. Individuals working in HIM play a key role in ensuring that healthcare organizations are compliant with state and federal regulations regarding capture, storage, and release of all medical data.

This field is seeing rapid expansion that will require significant new hiring of HIM-credentialed people to meet workforce needs over the next decade. In this career, individuals with an interest in the medical field and information technology skills contribute greatly to the healthcare industry without being direct care providers.

Several certificate programs have been added to the college’s short-term academic programs. The Analytical Laboratory and Quality Systems certificate program prepares students to gain entry level positions as laboratory and quality technicians for manufacturing companies and other organizations. Example positions include quality inspectors, calibration technicians, quality control analysts, document control technicians and manufacturing production technicians.

The Cyber Security certificate helps students launch a career in information technology security. In this program, students learn how to install operating systems and applications and study networking topics, as well as learn how to secure and protect these technologies against possible exploits and attacks. Students may use this certificate as preparation for the CompTIA Security+ SYO-201 exam or as a foundation for ongoing security studies.

The new Hospitality certificate program provides students with a strong foundation in the hospitality industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are projected to increase an average of 15.5 percent through 2018.

Faculty at Thoreau cabin

Faculty participating in the NEH Summer Academy tour a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond in Concord.

In late May, a group of 30 MWCC educators spent a day walking the trails at Walden Pond in Concord, where 19th century author, philosopher, naturalist and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin for two years, two months and two days writing his most famous works.

The visit was part of a week-long summer academy to prepare for an upcoming year-long, multi-disciplinary learning project devoted to the author’s influence and relevance to students today. In 2013, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the college a challenge grant of $500,000 to endow the “MWCC Humanities Initiative” to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum in North Central Massachusetts. The grant will be matched with funds raised by the MWCC Foundation to endow the initiative over the next six years. Thoreau’s Walden or Life in the Woods is at the center of the Humanities Project first year’s theme. Other authors and topics will be selected in subsequent years.

“The summer academy was very successful,” said English Professor Michelle Valois, chair of the college’s General Studies department and coordinator of the NEH grant project. “Faculty had the opportunity to collaborate on teaching and learning and they had the chance to grow intellectually. For some, Thoreau was new ground and they embraced the chance to be a student again. We also explored active learning, developing new ways to engage students in class discussion, and collaborative group work.”

Thoreau considered himself as much a scientist as a poet, Valois said. His scientific observations and inquiries are still relevant today and have given rise to the “citizen science” movement. He was also deeply influenced by Eastern religious and philosophical thought at a time when globalization was not a buzzword. And of course, Thoreau, the creator of the modern concept of civil disobedience, provides a perfect vehicle for examining the power and responsibility of the individual citizen in a healthy democracy, she said.

The academy provided guidance and inspiration as participating faculty prepare to integrate Thoreau and his works into cross-college disciplines, including English, biology, business administration, nursing, sociology, graphic design, early childhood education, photography and math.

Summer Academy Walden group photo

Professor Michelle Valois, coordinator of the new MWCC Humanities Initiative, leads a discussion during a faculty visit to Walden Pond in Concord, where Henry David Thoreau penned one of his most famous works, Walden or Life in the Woods. The book will be the focus of the Humanities Project’s first year’s theme.

Guest speakers and faculty participants presented lectures throughout the week. Michael Frederick, executive director of the Thoreau Society, spoke of Thoreau’s views of eastern philosophy and non-violence. Thoreau Society board member Susan Gallagher, associate professor in the political science department at UMass, Lowell, presented “Mapping Thoreau Country,” which followed Thoreau’s extensive travels through New England. Corinne Smith, author of, “Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey,” spoke on “Thoreau’s Relevance for Today.”

Several events, which are free and open to the public, are planned for the upcoming academic year including book discussions, lectures, a presentation by a Thoreau re-enactor, student presentations and a fundraising walk replicating Thoreau’s 1842 ascent up Wachusett Mountain, which was described in his  essay, A Walk to Wachusett.

“Wachusett is, in fact, the observatory of the state,” Thoreau wrote in his essay.

“That’s quite an honor for our little mountain, just as the NEH grant is an honor for our college,” Valois said.

 -         Alexander P. Moore

Dental programs tour June 2014

Incoming dental hygiene freshmen Paulette Hachey, Jessica Charron and Monica Kwan check out an operatory during a tour of MWCC’s new dental programs center in Fitchburg.

MWCC’s dental programs moved to spacious, new quarters in June, giving students, faculty and patients plenty to smile about.

The dental programs are now located at 326 Nichols Road in Fitchburg, adjacent to the original site at HealthAlliance Hospital, Burbank campus. The new facility is housed within the Community Health Connections’ newly opened, $20 million Fitchburg Family Community Health Center and continues a long-standing partnership with CHC that enables students to work with dentists and patients.

“It’s new and a pleasant, professional and inviting environment that welcomes students and patients alike,” said dental programs Director Anne Malkasian. “It’s a nice, welcoming facility to deliver good quality care in.”

The new space accommodates the growing dental programs, Malkasian said. In addition to containing the program’s seven operatories used for patient care, the new facility provides a larger classroom, designated space for space a dental materials lab, a library, offices and storage.

Students enrolled in the college’s part-time, evening dental assisting program will begin using the new facility this summer. Second-year dental hygiene students and freshmen entering the full-time, dental hygiene program in September had the opportunity to tour the new site on June 18 during their program orientation.

“The building is beautiful and we’ve all been very excited to start our second year here,” said continuing student Tasey Lemieux of Gardner.

Paulette Hachey of Fitchburg, who began her academic studies at MWCC as an English as a Second Language student, is excited to begin her dental hygiene program in the new facility this fall.

“It’s beautiful in here. It looks more like a dentist’s office than a school.

Malkasian, who plans to retire in the fall, said the move to the new location was a rewarding chapter in her career. She praised the CHC and its new chief executive officer, John DeMalia, for bringing the project to fruition and enhancing medical care for area residents.

“This is the medical and dental home for thousands of patients and it’s nice to have a beautiful facility for them,” she said.

During the past academic year, students in MWCC’s dental programs conducted fundraisers to contribute to the Community Health Connections Homestretch campaign to provide for additional clinical space and other building improvements. For more information about the campaign, visit www.thehomestretchcampaign.org.

Liane Jablonski and Robin Robinson COD award 2014

Massachusetts Colleges Online Course of Distinction Award recipient Liane Jablonski, left, with MCO chair Robin Robinson, Director of Education Technology and Interactive Media at Framingham State University.

MWCC instructor Liane Jablonski was recently recognized with a Course of Distinction Award from Massachusetts Colleges Online for her online course, “Introduction to Sociology.”

A resident of Rindge, N.H., Jablonski received the award during the consortium’s 10th annual eLearning Conference, held this spring at Bridgewater State University.

More than 2,600 courses are offered through MCO, a consortium of the 15 community colleges and seven members of the state university system in Massachusetts. The MCO Course of Distinction (COD) award is named after the Bay State’s unique association with the “Sacred Cod,” and the contributions that the fishing industry made to Massachusetts economy in the early years of its history.

“The award recognizes faculty from throughout the state who have developed and teach innovative and exciting online courses,” said Dr. Vincent Ialenti, dean of Academic and Institutional Technology at MWCC. “These courses are representative of the best uses of eLearning instructional tools to enhance student success.” The award’s name was selected to recognize the contribution that MCO’s members and eLearning make to the state’s economy in the 21st century.

In addition to accepting a cod fish replica pitcher and certificate at a special luncheon at the conference, Jablonski presented information about her course as part of the conference’s Best Practices Showcase.

MWCC Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Michele Paranto described Jablonski’s course as “Exemplary in its use of the learning modules to scaffold and facilitate student learning and engage students in the course material.”

In her course, Jablonski built discussion boards that encourage students to take ownership of their learning, to communicate and collaborate with each other and to master the content. In addition, she maximizes course communication to create and maintain a consistent instructor presence within the course that fostered positive online relationships with students, Paranti said.

Jay Bhatt, president and chief executive officer of Blackboard, Inc. delivered a keynote address to the 250 conference attendees, focusing on the role of online and classroom technology in education’s future, the impact on teaching and learning, and the expectations of 21st century learners.

 

2014 Gateway and Pathways graduates

2014 Gateway and Pathways graduates

From the age-old wisdom of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the reflections of teenagers wise beyond years, the May 27 graduation ceremony honoring 48 dual enrollment students at Mount Wachusett Community College offered a blend of insight and inspiration.

Students enrolled in the Gateway to College program and the Pathways Early College Innovation School, offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, were lauded for their accomplishments by educators, family members and friends gathered in the college’s Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center theatre. As dual enrollment students, the graduates all completed the requirements for their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits or an associate degree.

“As I reflect on your accomplishments, one thing comes to mind and that is that you are going to be successful, for a variety of reasons, but one in particular. You have taken a different path to graduation. You decided to be nontraditional, you decided to think outside the box and be creative. All of these skills are going to be beneficial to you,” MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino told the graduates.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it,” he said, quoting van Goethe. Determining one’s calling, the president continued, can be difficult in the face of many changes, compromises, demands of time and the constant interruptions of living in a fast-paced world. “So dream,” he said. “Set aside some time for deep reflection and insight.”

Mahar Superintendent of Schools Tari N. Thomas praised the graduates for their strength and tenacity, otherwise known as grit.

“Grit is defined as sticking with things over the long term until you master them,” she said. “Research shows when it comes to achievement, grit is determined to be as essential as intellect. Research is now showing our grittiest students, the ones who are working hard with the greatest amount of determination, are the ones realizing the greatest success and even the greatest GPAs. All of you are unique and strong. You’ve demonstrated the grit necessary for high achievement, scholarly success and more. You’re hard working, tenacious and diligent and it will pay off.”

Gateway valedictorian Zoe Greim shared her personal story of adversity and triumph. Diagnosed in high school with Multiple Sclerosis, she viewed the news as a “wake-up call” to take charge of her life and not waste a minute of time. Disenchanted with the high schools she attended, she enrolled in the Gateway to College program at the advice of a guidance counselor and was named to the dean’s list or president’s list during all three semesters at the college. This fall, she will transfer to a university in Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“We need to see life is too short to sit around and wait for good or bad things to come to us. We need to go out and make things happen. I know we can all do that, since we all made the decision to come here. We need to strive to be the best we can be. If you want something, go get it and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way,” Greim told her fellow graduates.

Pathways valedictorian Erin Leamy reflected on the diverse paths each student took to reach their graduation day, as well as the common traits they all share.

“We all had something in common that inspired us to leave high school early and get a jump start on college. For some, it was simply time to move on. We no longer felt academically challenged. For others, high school had become stale, and we were looking for a fresh start. I can’t help but wonder how many diverse paths each of our lives will take – how many ways we’ll be challenged, and how each of us will respond to those challenges.”

Joseph Benavidez , who graduated in 2009 from the Gateway program and earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts from MWCC in 2010, was the keynote speaker. After graduating from MWCC, he transferred to Salem State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2013 and is now working as a journalist.

“Tonight, you are all warriors after a battle. You’ve earned your high school diploma. Some of you have already received college degrees as well. It took sweat and hardship to get here and that deserves a round of applause.”

Deborah Bibeau, assistant dean of transitions programming at MWCC, praised the partnership between the college and the school district. “As a testament to the long-term collaboration with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, this summer we’ll be preparing for the new Pathways students entering the program’s fifth year of operation, and new Gateway students entering the program’s ninth year of operation.”

Mount Wachusett Community College graduates

Graduates Lindsey Arnold and Kathleen Craigen.

In a Commencement address peppered with accolades and advice, University of Massachusetts, Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan praised the graduating Class of 2014 for their achievements and offered words of wisdom as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

Mount Wachusett graduates receive “a better education” than most college and university graduates, Meehan said, because in addition to mastering their academic subjects and overcoming challenges, they learned how to be great human beings through the college-wide emphasis on civic engagement.

“You have unprecedented means to engage with your communities, and indeed the world,” he said during the college’s 49th Commencement on May 21. This year, MWCC awarded 857 associate degrees and certificates to 786 graduates.

A first-generation college student, Meehan earned his bachelor’s degree at UMass Lowell while working full-time as a janitor, then went on to graduate school and served seven terms in Congress before becoming chancellor of his alma mater.

“Some of you are the first ones in your families to get a college degree. Some of you are new immigrants that have come to the United States. Some of you got married earlier and raised families and have come back to college to earn your degree. But all of your collective experiences have made you stronger, and I want you to know there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.”

Meehan concluded his address with key tips for the graduates, urging them to be great listeners; commit themselves to lifelong learning to keep pace with a rapidly changing world; to never compromise their integrity; to follow their passion; and be humble and always remember their roots.

President Daniel M. Asquino commended the graduates for their ongoing commitment to improving the world around them through education and service, noting this past academic year, MWCC students collectively devoted more than 144,000 hours of service learning and volunteerism to their communities.

“My wish for you is that you use your education to continue these pursuits and to improve your life, that of you family and friends, and that of your community, state and your nation and that you manifest an overall behavior that enlarges your circle of good,” he said.

Chevenee Reavis and President Daniel Asquino

Alumna of the Year Chevenee Reavis and President Asquino on Commencement day.

Alumna of the Year Chevenee Reavis reflected on her memories while a student at the college and shared experiences about her career path since graduating in 2000 with an associate degree in Business Administration.

“What I remember most about being here at the Mount was learning about myself and what I had in terms of character and in terms of conviction.”

Reavis, who began her studies as a dual enrollment student and transferred to Emerson College for a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications, now serves as director of strategic initiatives for the global organization Water.org, raising awareness about the water crisis affecting 2.5 billion people worldwide.

The nonprofit, co-founded by CEO Gary White and actor Matt Damon, has transformed thousands of communities in Africa, South Asia and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation to more than one million people.

“We have an enormous mission and vision and that is to see the day when everyone in the world has access to safe drinking water and the dignity of a toilet,” she said to a round of applause. “It does sound so basic, and yet I think many of you here know it is unfortunately not the reality for everyone around the world. We’re not waiting for a cure. We’re not waiting for a scientific breakthrough. We know the cure – it’s engineering. We’ve known how to deliver safe water and adequate sanitation for hundreds of years.”

At MWCC, Reavis said, she learned what this year’s graduates are also learning – that they can create their own path in life.

“Whatever step this is for you, whether you’re going to another school, or this is a stepping stone in a job, or a personal goal, be really proud of yourselves.”

Jillian Johnson was presented with the Trustees Award for her service this year on the MWCC Board of Trustees. The President’s Key Award for academic excellence was presented to Natural Resources major Seth Pease and Business Administration major Nina Margand. Kathleen Matson and Bryan Sanderson were presented with the Dean’s Key, which is awarded for outstanding community service. Emerita status was presented to Biology Professor Christine Kisiel.

The 2014 Service above Self Award was presented to Attorney Charles A. Gelinas, Sr., for his ongoing leadership on many North Central Massachusetts initiatives.

For more photos, click here to visit MWCC’s Facebook page.

Nursing Class of 2014

MWCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Class of 2014.

The academic achievements of MWCC’s 41st associate degree nursing graduating class were celebrated during a traditional pinning ceremony held May 22 in the Fitness and Wellness Center.

The graduating class was comprised of students enrolled in the day and evening programs and included LPN’s who returned to continue their education through the college’s new 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. “You truly can make a difference in their healing and their lives.”

Eileen Costello, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Community Service Programs, also welcomed the graduates and their families. Cindy Andrews, Director of Nursing and Assistant Vice President of Seven Hills Pediatric Center, delivered the keynote address. As part of their clinical experience, the students receive training at Seven Hills, and many are hired by the long-term care center for children with severe disabilities. Three employees of the center were among the graduates.

“Mount Wachusett nurses have just been a godsend to us,” she said. “They are so well trained.” Andrews encouraged the graduates to continue on with their education and always advocate for their patients. “They’re relying on you to be their voice.”

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 woundedsoldiers.

Dental Hygiene pinning 2014 awards

Dental Programs Director Anne Malkasian with this year’s award recipients Whitney Fox, Jennifer LePage, Brigitte Wong, and Bonnie Buckingham-Stone.

Graduates of MWCC’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs were welcomed into the profession during the department’s annual pinning ceremony on May 16 in the Raymond M. Lafontaine Fine Arts Center theatre.

Dr. Melissa Fama, vice president of Academic Affairs, and Anne Malkasian, program director, congratulated the graduates on their achievement.

“Nelson Mandela once said, ‘There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’  I hope that you will not see today as an end to your education but a beginning. I hope that you will embrace lifelong learning and advance yourself to your highest potential,” Malkasian told the graduates.

“We are reminded daily and most recently in the media, of the injustices in the world, in Nigeria especially, where more than 300 young girls have been abducted simply because they are pursing education,” she continued. “Let this act be a reminder to us all, how precious our liberty is, to follow our dreams in this great country, this state and in this institution – of Mount Wachusett Community College.”

Malkasian, who is retiring this summer after years of expanding the successful program, was recognized by the students and faculty for her dedication and leadership.

Government Affairs consultant Charles Glick, who met the students during their annual visit to the State House to advocate for legislative changes in the dental profession, was the keynote speaker. As government affairs consultant to American Dental Hygiene Association Massachusetts, Glick serves as a “cheerleader” of sorts for the dental hygiene profession and coach to legislators on the impact of regulations, he said.

“I have learned so much over the course of the last few years. I am now able to do root planing and scaling. Just kidding! Seriously, I have learned that dental hygienists and dental assistants are educators. You educate people in the prevention of a disease that is fully preventable.  You aren’t just putting sharp instruments into people mouths, though you are well qualified to do that, you are treating the whole person. You are health coaches encouraging people to do the things they need to do when they go home. You are clinicians, educators, advocates, managers and researchers, in order to prevent oral disease and promote health.”