Alumni Stories

Lisa Burns Evening of Excellence 2015

Honors student and MWCC graduate Lisa Burns, a Visions Program participant, will continue her studies this fall at Mount Holyoke College.

Mount Wachusett Community College has been awarded two five-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.99 million to continue support programs that help low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities succeed in college.The grant awards will be used to continue the college’s successful TRIO Student Support Services programs. The goal of each program is to improve student outcomes in the areas of retention, graduation and transfer to four-year institutions to earn a bachelor’s degree.

MWCC will receive $1.1 million over the next five years – $220,000 per year – to support the Student Support Services STEM Health Sciences program, known on campus as the Rx Program. Comprehensive services will be provided to 120 students annually who are majoring in health sciences programs including nursing, practical nursing, dental hygiene, dental assisting, physical therapist assistant, complementary health care, medical laboratory technology, medical assisting, medical office, biotechnology-bio manufacturing, fitness leadership and exercise science, and general studies allied health. Program participants receive wrap-around support services that include tutoring; academic advising; career, personal and transfer counseling; supplemental courses; financial aid advising and workshops; and financial and economic literacy education.

MWCC’s Student Support Services TRIO program, known on campus as the Visions Program, will receive $378,485 a year over a five-year span, for a total of $1,892,425 million. Now entering its 37th year as an educational opportunity TRIO program at MWCC, Visions serves eligible students enrolled in any non-health services major. The program provides a variety of comprehensive services to 200 students each year, including academic advising, personal, career and transfer counseling, tutoring, seminars, financial aid advising and workshops, financial literacy education, a faculty and peer mentoring program and supplemental courses.

“We are delighted to receive these two, highly competitive TRIO grants to continue programs that provide students with the tools and skills they need to succeed in college and earn a degree,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “These awards are a testament to the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty and staff and to the perseverance of our students. We our most grateful to our federal legislative delegation for their ongoing support of these programs and commitment to our students and the economic health of our region,” he said.

“Mount Wachusett Community College is committed to providing academic support and resources to students who need it the most,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “These federal TRIO grants will go a long way toward helping MWCC continue its extraordinary efforts to help every student succeed.  MWCC deserves congratulations for all it is doing.”

“We need to prepare all of our students to compete in the 21st century innovation economy, and these TRIO grants will ensure Mount Wachusett Community College continues to prepare low-income and first generation students with the skills of tomorrow,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “I congratulate Mount Wachusett Community College for securing this funding and for its commitment to helping students of all backgrounds and abilities achieve their dreams.

“Mount Wachusett received these funds after a rigorous grant process, which speaks to both the quality of their application and the school in general,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “They exemplify the growing trend of Third District institutions becoming academic leaders in the Commonwealth. I commend this fine institution and look forward to seeing the far-reaching benefits take hold.”

Using federal funds to partner with local institutions to address the needs of the region is a key tool in ensuring all people have the opportunity to pursue higher education, she said. “The significant return on these investments will have ongoing reverberations for many years to come, as more students are encouraged and able to complete their college careers and enter the workforce with the skills necessary to succeed.”

“With these TRIO awards, Mount Wachusett Community College will be able to continue to provide their students with a great education and prepare them for good careers,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “TRIO has a strong tradition of helping low-income, first generation college students succeed. These awards will directly help students complete their education and pursue good careers in STEM health science fields and many other fields that support our communities, including education, business, human services and public service. Mount Wachusett Community College is a strong partner for North Central Massachusetts and I look forward to continuing to work with them to open new doors of opportunity and grow our local economy.”

News of the federal grants was well received by students and alumni who have participated in the TRIO programs at MWCC.

“Without the Visions Program, I would not have been successful,” said Lisa Burns, a single mother who enrolled at MWCC in 2012 to pursue a new career after a back injury prevented her from continuing her long-standing job as a pharmacy technician. Though initially hesitant to enroll, Burns became a member of the Honors Program, the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society at MWCC. In May, she became the first in her family to graduate from college when she earned an associate degree in Business Administration. In September, she will transfer to prestigious Mount Holyoke College on a full scholarship through the Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarship program to pursue her bachelor’s degree.

“When you don’t have support on the outside, the support on campus is even more important – to have people telling you that you can do it,” she said.

 

Frankenstein image - JPG

An image of Frankenstein’s creature created by MWCC Graphic and Interactive Design alumnus Dylan Safford to illustrate the MWCC Humanities Project second-year theme.

Like many great works of science fiction, Mary 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 Shelley was just 20 years old, the novel’s influence extends well beyond the literary domain into film, science and politics, making it an ideal theme for the Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project.

Myths, Monsters, and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy has been selected as the second year theme for the MWCC Humanities Project. The project, an interdisciplinary and community study, is funded through a multi-year, matching $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to deepen and sustain quality and humanities programing and curriculum throughout North Central Massachusetts.

The impact of Shelley’s 1818 story 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, chair of the MWCC’s Liberal Arts & Sciences programs and coordinator of the Humanities Project. Frankenstein continues to raise important questions about science and community, family and education.

“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. “Mary Shelley’s novel – though a work of the imagination – 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?  Our world is witnessing rapid scientific and technological advances – how do works of the imagination help society cope with these changes?”

As he becomes obsessed with his experiments, Dr. Frankenstein cuts himself off from his family and friends. In this self-imposed isolation, he brings to life a creature that he can’t stand to look upon and which he rejects. “This question of responsibility and control is central to many discussions about the new science that our contemporary society faces in the area of biotechnology and artificial intelligence,” Valois said.

Other ideas and themes that the novel explores include the social outcast, nature vs. nurture, the effects of abandonment on children, beauty, good and evil, the limits of science, the responsibility of science, the fact and fiction behind many new scientific and technological developments, rationality vs. intuition, faith vs. reason, and, most of all, the power of a good story to invade our imagination and transform how we see ourselves and our world, Valois said.

During a recent three-day workshop, MWCC faculty from various disciplines met to discuss the tale and its significance today, and plan ways to integrate themes into the curriculum for the upcoming academic year. This cross-college team included attendees from the fields of English, philosophy, sociology, graphic and interactive design, art, computer information systems, biology, biotechnology and natural resources.

Participating faculty and staff members include: Julie Capozzi, Paula Pitkiewicz, Paul Swerzenski, David Wyman, Lara Dowland, Donalyn Schofield, Kathryn Smith, Candace Shivers, Tom Montagno, Kenneth Roy, Shelley Nicholson, Maureen Provost, Wanda Pothier-Hill, Daniel Soucy, Lorie Donahue, Susan Blake, Michelle Paranto, Constance Porter, and Jess Mynes.

Events will include a panel discussion on “Frankenscience – The Myths and Realities of Contemporary Science,”  a Halloween hike for the Humanities at Wachusett Mountain, a book discussion with Elizabeth Young, author of Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor, and lectures by visiting professors Sonia Hofkosh of Tufts University, Robert Schwartz of Mount Holyoke College, and Shelley Errington Nicholson of MWCC and Springfield College. 

Films will include Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, James Whales’ 1931 classic Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and  Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein as well as a monster movie marathon with Fitchburg State University Professor Joe Moser.

The study follows the MWCC Humanities Project first-year theme, East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord: Walden and Beyond, which provided students and the community an opportunity to examine Henry David Thoreau’s lasting relevance through lectures, films, and book discussions. During the past academic year, students studied Thoreau’s Walden: Or Life in the Woods, not only in English courses, but in science, business, philosophy, art, sociology, graphic design, and history courses as well. MWCC sponsored 12 community events held at the college and at local libraries.

Relay Alumni team (1)

The MWCC Alumni Network is among the newest teams joining the Greater Gardner Relay for Life. From left, board members Carrie DeCosta, Marianne and Mark Geoffrey and Lawrence Nfor.

MWCC alumni, students, faculty and staff again joined thousands of volunteers for the annual Greater Gardner Relay for Life, a two-day, North Central Massachusetts outpouring of support and hope for cancer victims and survivors, and a community remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

The Mount Walkers, represented by faculty and staff and their families, the MWCC Alumni Network, the Veterans Success Center, and the MWCC nursing program were among the college teams participating in the event, held June 12 and 13 on the track of the Gardner campus to support the American Cancer Society.

The largest relay event in New England has been hosted by MWCC for two decades, although each year provides an opportunity to share something new with the community. This year, MWCC alumni Marianne and Mark Geoffroy inspired a dedicated “alumni lap” lap around the track, allowing participants to show their support for the fight against cancer and their MWCC pride.

“We really wanted people to get an idea just how strong we really are,” said Mark, an eighth-grade science teacher who was recently elected president of the MWCC Alumni Network. “You scratch the surface and everybody has a story about the Mount. Somehow the Mount did something to change their lives. That was true for Marianne and me 35 years ago, and it’s still true today.”

The couple met at the college in the mid-1970s, and have remained part of the college community ever since.

Marianne, a 14-year cancer survivor who majored in public communications while at MWCC, works as a web applications manager for a medical device company that matches employees’ charitable contributions. The alumni team was established last year by the board and Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Carol Jacobson.

Dean Eileen Costello pins Fortunate Munhutu May 2015

Fortunate Munhutu receives her pin from Dean Eileen Costello during MWCC’s 42nd nurse pinning ceremony.

Ninety eight graduates of MWCC’s day, evening and LPN to ADN  nursing programs celebrated  a  milestone during the 42nd annual Nurse Pinning Ceremony held May 21 at the Fitness & Wellness Center.

Each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, was welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her/his lapel by a fellow nurse—a family member, friend or faculty member. The eight-star pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World” with the nursing symbol in the middle.

“This is a big night for our nursing students,” Executive Vice President Ann McDonald told the gathering of hundreds of friends and family members, current students and alumni. “I see first-hand, every day the dedication our nursing students have to their studies and profession.”

Eileen Costello, Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences led the ceremony with the assistance of faculty members.

The graduates also lit electronic candles and recited the Florence Nightinigale Pledge, an oath originally composed in 1893 and named for the founder of modern nursing.

First MWCC graduation 1966

MWCC’s first Commencement exercises took place on June 12, 1966 with 71 graduates. This year, the college will award more than 840 degrees and certificates to 781 graduates. Pictured, from left, 1966 graduates and award recipients Mary Pieloch and Doris Townsend; Dr. Arthur F. Haley, President; graduate and award recipient James Eacmen, Jr.; and Commencement speaker Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, president of Clark University. (Photo courtesy of The Gardner News)

Fifty years ago, lifelong Gardner resident Helen Lepkowski was among a handful of Mount Wachusett Community College faculty members to congratulate the college’s first graduating class.

On Wednesday, May 20, the former business division professor and her husband, Ed, a former MWCC trustee, will maintain their longstanding tradition of attending the celebration. Unlike the first ceremony, where 71 graduates received associate degrees in six academic programs, the college will award more than 840 associate degrees and academic certificates to 785 graduates enrolled in nearly 50 program options.

Mount Wachusett’s first commencement, held outdoors on Sunday, June 12, 1966 at the Elm Street campus, featured Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, the third president of Clark University, as the speaker.

“It was very small and it was just wonderful and intimate. It was a beautiful day,” Mrs. Lepkowski recalled. “It’s always a wonderful opportunity to be there and there are always people you know who are graduating or are there for the occasion.”

MWCC’s 50th Commencement ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the college’s Fitness & Wellness Center.

Among this year’s highlights, Gardner native Kevin Berg, executive vice president of production for CBS Network Entertainment in Los Angeles, will deliver the commencement address. Berg also will receive an honorary doctorate of Humanities, as well as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award.

Community leader and long-serving volunteer James O. Garrison will receive is the recipient of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2015 Service Above Self Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions within the 29 cities and towns that make up the college’s service area. Mr. Garrison, former MWCC Board of Trustees chair and benefactor of the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Education scholarships, will receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. Prior to the commencement ceremony, President Daniel M. Asquino and the Board of Trustees will recognize Mr. Garrison and his wife, Peggy, for their generous gifts and commitment to students during a rededication of the Garrison Center.

Business Administration graduate Yasmine Kanaan has been selected to deliver the Class of 2015 Student Address.

Five retiring professors will receive emeriti status: Joel Anderson, Media Arts & Technology; Paul Laverty, Mathematics; John McNally, Health Sciences, Fitness & Wellness; Elena Natalizia, Criminal Justice; and John Reilly, Business Administration.

New this year, two food trucks will be on site to curb appetites: The Dogfather Truck of Worcester, and Dylan and Pete’s Ice Cream Truck of Boston. The MWCC Alumni Association will return with flowers for sale, and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society will conduct its 12th annual Project Graduation food drive. Graduates and their guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the commencement rehearsal and/or ceremony. Donations will be delivered to the Gardner Community Action Committee, the Winchendon Community Action Committee, and MWCC’s Students SOS office.

VFW donation to MWCC Foundation

The Ovila Case Post 905 VFW recently presented a $1,000 donation to the MWCC Foundation to support scholarships for student veterans. Pictured, from left, MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, MWCC Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer, past Commander Donald Progen, Commander-elect Joseph LeBlanc and President Daniel Asquino.

The Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gardner recently donated $1,000 to Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

President Daniel Asquino, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander-elect Joseph LeBlanc and past Commander and MWCC alumnus Donald Progen, and thanked the post members for their continued support of MWCC and student veterans.

The scholarship was established to recognize the important role played by MWCC in ensuring that the sacrifices and service of veterans who served the country 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.

 

News staff photo by KATIE LANDECK Mount Wachusett Community College nursing students Lori Belliveau and Diana Bronson give a presentation about their recent trip to Haiti and encourage other students to sign up for the Mount’s upcoming trip in January 2016.
Mount Wachusett Community College nursing students Lori Belliveau and Diana Bronson give a presentation about their recent trip to Haiti and encourage other students to sign up for the Mount’s upcoming trip in January 2016.

GARDNER – When the first team of Mount Wachusett Community College nursing students came back from Haiti in January, they all said the same thing: we want to go back.

“There is a lot of beauty (in Haiti),” said nursing student Lori Belliveau while presenting the trip to other nursing students on Monday. “And it makes you think a little bit about what we have versus what they don’t have.”

The nursing students traveled to Haiti with Forward in Health, a locally started nonprofit that is providing health care to 7,500 people in the impoverished Fonde Fred region of Haiti. The trip was organized by Forward in Health cofounder Paula Mulqueen.

The students worked in health clinics, visited orphanages and nursing schools, and also had the chance to explore a little bit of the island nation.

The Mount is planning another trip for next January. The trip costs about $1,600 per person, but students found they were about to raise money to pay for the trip.

“It didn’t cost me anything,” said Ms. Belliveau. “My friends, family and coworkers were very generous.”

There is also talk of creating an exchange program where Mount Wachusett students would have the ability to live with and attend classes with nursing students in Haiti for a week.

Then the Haitian student would be able to attend classes at Mount Wachusett for a week.

Ideally, Mount Wachusett officials said, the students in the exchange program would be able to speak at least a little French.

By the next trip, Mount Wachusett students will be able to work in the clinic that Forward in Health will officially open this summer after years of fundraising and overcoming numerous hurdles, including the devastating earthquake of 2010.

“We are at the brink of opening the clinic doors,” Ms. Mulqueen told the audience. “We are doing a massive inventory and a massive setup. The scheduled date to open is Aug. 4. Great stuff is happening.”

The clinic will include a triage unit and offer permanent medical assistance to the region.

Since Ms. Mulqueen’s first trip to Haiti in 2002, she has traveled to the country 52 times, taking anyone who wanted to go and was willing to work, ranging from high school students to surgeons.

“International nursing is suddenly a hot topic,” she said. “Everyone is now going all over the world to serve.”

When choosing where to go and with whom to serve, Ms. Mulqueen recommends looking into an organization’s history in the country, the sustainability of its work, the compatibility of its objectives with that of the volunteer, and the group’s safety record.

For more information about traveling with Forward in Health, visit forwardinhealth.org.

The Gardner News, Katie Landeck, May 5, 2015

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke with 2015 MWCC Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Inductees.

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke with 2015 MWCC Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Inductees.

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke shared lessons learned throughout his career in business and public service with 17 Mount Wachusett Community College students who were inducted into the Chi Gamma Chapter of Alpha Beta Gamma, an international business honor society, at the 25th annual induction ceremony, Thursday, April 23.

After graduating from MWCC, Hawke transferred to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, then went on to earn an MBA from Anna Maria College. After pursuing a career as a financial analyst, he took a pay cut to take a job with the City of Gardner, and learned he loved the work so much, he wanted to run for Mayor. Now serving his eighth year as mayor, he still loves the work. “In this job, I can see the results of our work. If we plan to build a playground, we build a playground. If we say we are going to fill a pothole, we fill a pothole and we see the result.”

He shared several pieces of advice gathered from his own career and lessons learned from other business leaders. “Never stop learning, never stop trying, and surround yourself with a good team,” he said. He challenged the students to work hard and always to strive to surpass expectations. “You will be noticed and rewarded.” He also credited Mount Wachusett Community College for putting him on a path of academic success. “It is an intimate setting and you really get to know the faculty, the staff and the college leadership,” he explained.

To be eligible for membership into Alpha Beta Gamma, students must be enrolled in a business curriculum, have completed 15 academic credit hours in a specific degree program and demonstrate academic excellence by attaining a grade point average of 3.0 or above. At MWCC, the programs include Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, Computer Information Systems, Graphic & Interactive Design, and Medical Assisting.

The Chi Gamma chapter has a long history of community involvement, including activities to benefit NEADS, a Princeton-based service assistance dog organization; the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center; the House of Peace and Education in Gardner; local food pantries; military troops serving overseas; and the national Alzheimer’s Association.

Sen Brewer Congressman McGovern 2

Congressman Jim McGovern, with Senator Stephen Brewer, at the MWCC Foundation annual dinner.

An outpouring of admiration and acclamation for state Senator Stephen M. Brewer and Mount Wachusett Community College student scholars fueled an evening of inspiration and celebration during the MWCC Foundation’s annual dinner on April 9.

The event, held at the Wachusett Mountain ski lodge, honored the long-serving legislator as the foundation’s 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year.

Congressman Jim McGovern delivered remarks both heartfelt and comical, before announcing that Senator Brewer’s 26-years of exemplary leadership in the Legislature has been officially noted in the Congressional Record.

“Senator Brewer is a giant; someone who not only looked out for his constituents and his community, but also for Massachusetts. I can think of no one finer to receive this year’s Harold E. Drake Citizen of the Year award for his service to the Commonwealth and to the constituents he represented over nearly three decades of public service,” the official record reads, in part. Senator Brewer retired from the Legislature last fall.

“As senator, Steve helped countless people,” Congressman McGovern said. “I admire him because of all the great things he’s done and because he’s never thrown away his conscience.” Regarding the senator’s popularity, the Congressman quipped, “Have you ever walked in a parade with him? It’s like walking with Elvis, everyone wants to meet him.”

In addition to celebrating Senator Brewer’s legacy, the event acknowledged the academic success and civic engagement of MWCC students, as well as the volunteerism of area middle school and high school students who participate in United Way Youth Venture, a thriving partnership between the college, the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and the international organization Ashoka.

The audience of 220 college supporters, benefactors, students and community leaders rose to their feet on many occasions throughout the night, beginning with remarks delivered by student speaker Cathy Teague, president of the Student Government Association. She shared how she and her husband, Jason, an Army veteran, rebuilt their troubled marriage after realizing the power of a college education to shape a brighter future for themselves and their children. The Winchendon couple, who divorced and later remarried, credited the support they received at MWCC through various student and veteran support services.

“During the past two years, I have transformed from a scared single mother of three little boys that didn’t know where her life was going. I have grown to be a more confident person who has a clear path. Through MWCC, Jason has found one of his true passions, which is helping other veterans” as a mentor and advocate for veteran suicide prevention she said.

“Because of the scholarship support and the positive encouragement I received, I have an amazing story. My once broken family is back together again, and I have grown into a person that I never thought I could be.”

An exchange between the couple and Senator Brewer sparked the most poignant moment of the night, when the senator presented Jason Teague with the flag lapel pin he was wearing, along with words of encouragement. In response, Teague asked to approach the microphone, and then presented Senator Brewer the pin he was wearing – the high school graduation pin of his 20-year-old son, who is currently serving in Afghanistan. The men embraced, tearfully, as tears flowed freely throughout the banquet hall.

During his remarks, Senator Brewer lauded President Daniel Asquino for his visionary leadership and the college for its ability to transform lives through education and student-centered service. He spoke of his love for America, his admiration for Harold Drake, and the dedicated spirit of the Youth Venture teens who represent the country’s future.

“The promise of our country is to do better for the next generation,” he said.

President Asquino described Senator Brewer as a man of many hats and talents, but above all, “a great human being and an example of a truly caring and engaged citizen of our democracy. Today all of our lives have been improved because this year’s honoree exhibits the fine characteristics of good citizenship, of sacrifice well beyond self-interest and of volunteerism.”

President Asquino recognized several student leaders in attendance for exemplary achievements this spring, including Ms. Teague, who will be MWCC’s recipient in May of state Department of Higher Education’s 29 Who Shine Award; John Day of Gardner, who was recently named a national Newman Civic Scholar by Campus Compact; Student Trustee Phillip Stan of Gardner, one of 150 students named a national Coca-Cola Scholar this year; newly elected 2015-2016 student Trustee Thomas Berger of Winchendon, a veteran of the U.S. Army; Louis Ayisi of Leominster, who has represented MWCC students as a featured speaker high-level events at the statehouse; and Aaron Trudeau of Rindge, N.H., a Marine veteran who was selected nationally to join President Obama and Vice President Biden at the recent dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for his essay on community service.

Featured speakers also included State Senator Harriette Chandler, Foundation board Chairman Richard Mohnk, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and former MWCC Trustee Jay Davis Drake, who has presented the annual award for the past two decades to community members who exemplify his father’s volunteerism and commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

“Mount Wachusett Community College,” Congressman McGovern remarked, “is a place where incredible things happen and dreams come true.”

MWCC Group with students

Senator Stephen M. Brewer, front row, center, was recognized with the 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year Award by the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation. Pictured front row, from left: Jason and Cathy Teague, Jay Davis Drake, President Daniel M. Asquino, Senator Brewer, Congressman Jim McGovern, Valerie Brewer, Rep. Stephen DiNatale. Back row, MWCC student leaders with Senator Harriette Chandler, second from left, and Rep. Jon Zlotnik, right.

 

 

Deb BoucherDebra Boucher, MWCC Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Success, is the recipient of the Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education’s 2015 Phenomenal Woman Award. Boucher was presented with the award during the MWPHE spring conference on April 3 in Sterling.

Boucher joined MWCC in 2008 as a transfer counselor in the college’s TRIO Student Support Services/Visions Program, and was subsequently appointed assistant director of enrollment management and advising. In 2012, she was promoted to Director of Student Success, where she became a driving force behind the college’s ASPIRE strategy, a five-year initiative funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant to enhance student retention and degree completion goals.

Boucher said she was honored to receive the award, and reflected the recognition back to her colleagues. “It’s a privilege to work here and be surrounded by people who are committed to student success.”

A wife and mother of three, Boucher decided to enroll in college at age 33 to fulfill a long-held goal. After completing an associate degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences at MWCC, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree in counseling from Fitchburg State University.

“Deb is a talented leader who always puts student success and the welfare of her team ahead of her own personal goals,” said colleague Liza Day Smith, Ph.D., MWCC Assistant Director of Advising. “Her ability to anticipate the changes needed to accomplish institutional and state goals around enrollment and retention is unsurpassed. She has built a strong team around her while addressing the needs of the students and the college.”