Alumni Stories

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.”

CBS EXECUTIVEHollywood executive Kevin Berg, a Gardner native in charge of bringing award-winning CBS television programs to audiences across the U.S. and around the world, will return to where his career began to deliver the keynote address at Mount Wachusett Community College’s 50th Commencement in May. In addition, Berg will be presented with an honorary doctorate of Humanities and the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award.

As executive vice president of production for CBS Network Entertainment Group, Berg is responsible for production on all CBS properties with the exception of news and sports. He has been intimately involved with the launch and continuing success of the hit CSI and NCIS franchises; Blue Bloods; Criminal Minds; Elementary; Extant; The Good Wife; Hawaii Five-O; Madam Secretary; Scorpion; The Amazing Race; Survivor; The Odd Couple; Under the Dome; Beauty and the Beast; America’s Next Top Model; Undercover Boss; Late Show, The Late, Late Show, several game shows and countless others.

At CBS, he is fiscally responsible for all production costs and schedules and oversees spending in excess of $1.5 billion annually. He is also responsible for worldwide production, including productions located in the United States, Canada, Malta, Israel, South Africa and Jordan.

“We are delighted to welcome Kevin Berg back to Mount Wachusett Community College as this year’s Commencement speaker and Alumnus of the Year,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Our students have gone on to build successful careers in a wide range of fields, but it’s rare to have one whose work has an impact on our lives every day of the week.”

Berg got his start in broadcasting as a communications student at MWCC from fall 1982 to spring 1984. After graduating from Gardner High School and following a short stint at a furniture factory, Berg decided to enroll at MWCC, but had no idea which career to pursue. While touring the college one day, he ran into a family friend – MWCC’s influential administrator Frank Hirons – who encouraged him to take up television production in the college’s new, state-of-the-art video production studios.

“The Mount had phenomenal facilities and had phenomenal technology available to me, so I had a jump on the technology side,” Berg said in a recent telephone interview.

The skills he gained at MWCC helped him land an internship at WNEV TV Channel 7 in Boston, (now WHDH), which ordinarily went to graduates of four-year schools. When the production manager abruptly quit, Berg was hired for the job and worked on a short-lived, live, daily show called New England Afternoon, hosted by Bill O’Reilly. After the show ended, Berg packed up and moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and started knocking on doors, résumé in hand, to find a job in television.

On the fourth day, he walked into award-winning director Marty Pasetta’s company, and was subsequently hired as a production coordinator. Over the next five years, he was successively promoted while working with Pasetta on the Academy Awards, the Emmys, Disney specials and an assortment of variety shows featuring A-list talent.

He shifted gears to series television in 1989 and produced multiple award-winning series such as “In Living Color,” “Tracy Takes On…” and “The News Hole,” prior to joining Nancy Tellem, then-president of CBS, in the summer of 1998. 

“I rose up the ranks pretty quickly,” Berg said. “It is drive, determination and desire – the three D’s. I’ve worked with so many phenomenal people.”

Berg also was involved in the transition from standard definition production/programming to high definition production/programming for both the CBS network and studio. Additionally, he played a key role in the merger of CBS and Paramount in 2004 and the split of the companies in 2006.

He is actively involved with multiple charities that protect and invest in the lives of children, and with establishing and producing neighborhood and community activities and events. He served a four-year term on the Board of Directors for the Entertainment Industries Foundation, the lead philanthropic nonprofit in the entertainment industry, helping it grow from an annual $10 million charitable fund to $100 million. He currently serves on the Directors Guild of America’s Directors Guild – Producer Training Plan board, which places and trains aspiring assistant directors on existing feature and television productions.

“We are very fortunate that Kevin kept in touch over the years, so we were able to follow his success in Hollywood,” said his former broadcasting and communications professor, Dr. Vincent Ialenti, now Dean of Academic and Institutional Technology and Interim Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Education, Humanities and Communications. The academic program has since evolved into the Media Arts and Technology program, offering concentrations in video/film, audio engineering and photography.

Berg, whose family co-owned the former Columbus & Berg construction company in Gardner, met his wife, Donna, while working on “In Living Color.” The couple has two sons and two daughters.

“MWCC will always hold a special place in my heart,” Berg said.



Nate Haney

MWCC alumnus Nate Haney, now a stage manager at ESPN, recently shared his career experiences with current students.

How do you get from Studio B in the basement of Mount Wachusett Community College to the advanced television studios at ESPN? MWCC alumnus Nate Haney shared how he did just that during presentations to Media Arts and Technology students on February 5 at the college’s Gardner campus.

Haney, a 2006 graduate of MWCC who now works full-time as a stage manager at the Bristol, CT-based sports station, shared how he navigated the journey from classroom to dream job and what it’s like to work for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Internships, networking, volunteering and making the most of every opportunity that comes along were among the key tips he shared.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of internships due to the competitiveness. Be bold and daring, but not pushy. Make the most of every opportunity to learn and to network. Even if it’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday, do it. It will be worth it in the end,” Haney said. “Make yourself valuable, indispensable and unexpendable and great things can happen.”

Haney received his degree from MWCC in 2006 and transferred to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams to earn his bachelor’s degree. He started in the industry as an intern at WCVB Boston-Channel 5, then went on to work for four years as a freelancer and part-time seasonal studio technician for New England Sports Network, covering the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.

After enduring a six-hour interview at ESPN, he was hired as a stage manager in February 2013, starting off on the station’s Sports Center. He is curently in training to become an associate director.

The MRT department, formerly known as Broadcasting and Electronic Media, developed a speaker series more than five years ago to introduce current students to industry professionals and hear first-hand about various aspects of the industry, said Associate Professor Joel Anderson. “We’re always excited to invite our alumni back to share their experiences in the field.”

Haiti trip January 2015

MWCC nursing students, alumni and faculty joined Forward in Health on a mission trip to Haiti in January.

During the winter recess, a group of MWCC nursing students, alumni and faculty members spent a week in the Caribbean, though swimming, snorkeling and tropical feasts were not on the agenda. Rather, they went to Haiti to provide health care to impoverished children and adults served by the Gardner nonprofit Forward in Health.

Forward in Health, founded by Dr. John Mulqueen and MWCC alumna Paula Mulqueen, RN, is dedicated to providing health care to residents in a rural area just outside Les Cayes. The organization has organized more than 50 mission trips since 2001, and is now in the final stages of building a clinic to serve residents in one of the world’s poorest countries. On these trips, they bring with them medicine, supplies, volunteers from the community – and hope.

The trips are strenuous, but rewarding and life-changing, said Paula Mulqueen, a 1994 graduate of MWCC’s nursing program. “It was a privilege to take my alma mater to the third world,” she said. “Our MWCC nursing pin is engraved with the words “Service to Humanity and the World, and this trip was a true testament to the Mount and to Gardner that we have produced the finest nurses who are willing to step outside their comfort zone to serve others.”

Faculty members Katherine Pecorelli and Kathy Panagiotes, nursing students Diana Bronson, Lori Bellieveau, Katelyn Halfrey and Dawn Fuller, and nursing program alumni Marquita Day and Donna Muse joined Paula on the mission trip Jan. 3 to 13. Forward in Health board member Debbie Orre, former director of MWCC’s nursing program, joined the healthcare team, along with several other volunteers from the community.

Days before they were set to leave from Boston, the trip was nearly canceled due to a new round of political unrest in Haiti. Once there, the country’s electricity was not working for much of the time. The volunteers were there for the country’s National Day of Mourning on Jan. 12, marking five years since a massive earthquake devastated the island.

Without access to health care, even the most common of ailments than can be cured with over the counter medicines in the U.S. can become full-blown health issues in Haiti when left untreated, such as respiratory illness and skin infections.

“I believe the nursing students develop a deeper compassion, understanding and empathy,” after serving in this capacity, Pecorelli said. While in Haiti, the team of volunteers held a mountain clinic and assessed close to 100 patients, she said. In addition to the time spent administering direct care to patients, volunteers visited an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa, and took in some local sites.

“Forward in Health has created a safe, welcoming and bonding method of bringing various people from the community to Haiti,” said Professor Panagiotes.

“I think this experience makes me more grateful for the things that I have in the U.S. and I would love to do more to help,” said student volunteer Lori Belliveau.

MWCC Dental Programs 10 year celebration group photo

President Asquino, former Trustee Ellen Daly, outgoing Dental Education Programs Director Anne Malkasian and new chair Cynthia Cadoret are joined by students and alumni at the anniversary celebration.

Mount Wachusett Community College administrators, faculty, students and alumni joined representatives from North Central Massachusetts dental and medical community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the college’s dental education programs. The event, held Jan. 22 at the programs’ new academic site, the Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, featured a reception, tours of the new facility, student presentations and refreshments.

President Daniel M. Asquino praised the college’s dental education programs as a model among the state’s community colleges for their clinical partnership with the Community Health Center to serve area residents who otherwise would not have access to dental care.

“There is no program like this, where students get the kind of exposure and experience they get at Mount Wachusett,” he said.

The college launched its dental hygiene program in 2005 following an outpouring of generosity from the dental community who saw a healthcare need and partnered with the college to address it, Asquino said. The part-time dental assisting program began in 2012. “It’s a model partnership where dentists and the dental community got some grants and we started the program for the community.”

To date, the programs have celebrated the academic success of 113 graduates. Alumni representing each graduating class from 2007 to 2014 attended the event, along with current students.

The event also recognized the decade-long leadership of Program Director Anne Malkasian, who is retiring.

“This evening we are celebrating a milestone for the dental education programs at Mount Wachusett Community College,” she said.

Malkasian thanked the numerous supporters who helped launch the program and ensure its continued success, including Ellen Daly, former chair of MWCC’s Board of Trustees. A retired dental hygienist, Daly was instrumental in starting the program. Daly, who attended the celebration, said she is delighted with the growth and continued success of the dental education programs.

“I may have planted a seed, but the work has been done by the college staff,” Daly said.

Professor Cynthia Cadoret, the new chair of the dental education programs department, announced the creation of the Dental Health Alumni Scholarship to benefit future students. Alumni, current students, college faculty and administrators, industry vendors and other supporters have contributed to the new scholarship. 


FHS alumni event with MWCC 2015

Fitchburg High alumni with Principal Jeremy Roche, left, and MWCC Assistant GEAR UP Director Victor Rojas, right.

Recent graduates of Fitchburg, Athol, Ralph C. Mahar and Murdock high schools returned to their alma maters this month to offer tips to current high students on a wide range of topics, including the application process, coursework and study requirements, financial aid and dorm life.

The events were sponsored by MWCC’s Division of Access and Transition in partnership with the high school guidance departments. Many of the returning alumni are past participants of MWCC’s Educational Talent Search, GEAR UP, North Central Mass Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound Math and Science, and Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech programs. The alumni are now pursuing a variety of academic programs at public and private colleges and universities.

Murdock alumni 2015

MurdockPrincipal Josh Romano, left, MWCC Access & Transition Aide Davis Brush, second from right, and Angele Goss, right, Director, North Central Mass Educational Talent Search/UBMS, with Murdock alumni.

The annual alumni breakfast event “is a great way for our graduates to give back to their school,” said Murdock Principal Josh Romano. “Many of our students are first generation college students, so Mount Wachusett’s Access and Transition programs help them greatly with the process of preparing for college success. The programs give us another way of guiding our students and showing them the options that are available.”

“I think it’s important for kids who are thinking about going to college to hear from people who have gone before them how important and how impactful college is on their lives,” said Mahar alum Jessica Gilmore, who now attends Brandeis University. “When their questions can be answered, it isn’t so scary of a process anymore because real people have done it before them.”


Mahar alumni

High school students said they enjoy the annual event. “I learned that once you get to college it is no more playing games,” said Fitchburg senior Shakira Collazo. “It is real life and you have to be ready to work. It is either go hard or go home.”

Participating alumni include:

Fitchburg: Erica Sandrelli and Luis Jusino (Mount Wachusett Community College);Rubin Seyde (Boston University); Nina Thirakoune (Bentley University); Rachael Lanni, (Worcester Polytechnic Institute); Matti Phaneuf (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

Athol High School alumni event

MWCC Access & Transition counselor Steven ringer, front row, left, Athol Principal Dr. Steven Meyer, and alumni.

Athol: James Hughes (MWCC and University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Alex Page (Bentley University); Kyle White, (Bentley University); Marissa Roberts (Green Mountain College); Rachel Karen (Westfield State University); Gloria Walters (UMass Amherst); Jennifer Holden (Framingham State University); Devin Belden (Bridgewater State University); Elizabeth Arpide (Emerson College).

Mahar: Troix Adams (University of Tampa); Kurtis Graeff and Derek Porter (Worcester PoIytechnic Institute); Jessica Gilmore (Brandeis University); and Dylan Robichaud (Lyndon State College).

Murdock: Charles C.J. Husselbee, (MWCC and UMass, Amherst); Tyler Perry, (UMass Amherst); Brittany Eliason, (Saint Anselm College); Katrina Williams, (Worcester State) James Maynard (Westfield State); Justin Smith, (Salem State); Robert Holly, University of New Mexico; Justin Harris (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) Alex Emerson (Syracuse University).

Dental Hygiene pinning 2014 awards

Dental Education Programs Director Anne Malkasian with members of the 2014 graduating class.

Following extensive planning and support from the North Central Massachusetts dental community, Mount Wachusett Community College launched its dental education programs in 2005 in Fitchburg. To mark the 10 year anniversary and the programs’ recent relocation to the Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, MWCC invites area dentists, alumni and program supporters to a celebration on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 4:30 to 6:30 at the new program site.

MWCC’s full-time dental hygiene program and part-time, evening dental assistant program are housed within the Community Health Connections’ newly opened, $20 million Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, located at 326 Nichols Road and adjacent to the original site at Health Alliance Hospital, Burbank campus. The relocation continues a long-standing partnership between MWCC and CHC that enables students to work with dentists and patients.

The event will include a reception, tours of the new facility, student presentations and refreshments. The celebration also will mark the retirement of Program Director Anne Malkasian and appointment of the program’s new coordinator, Professor Cynthia Cadoret.

“Our dental education programs were created in collaboration with the dental and medical community to address a specific need for trained dental professionals in our region, as well as provide care for area residents who otherwise would not have access to dental care,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are delighted with the success of these programs, the success of our graduates and current students, and the success of this ongoing community partnership. Many in our community were involved with making this happen, and we look forward to celebrating this milestone with them.”

Reservations to the free event are requested and can be made by contacting Anne Malkasian at In case of inclement weather, the snow date is Tuesday, Jan. 27.




Practical Nursing Class of 2014

Thirty five graduates of MWCC’s Practical Nursing program, pictured with faculty members Kimberly Shea, Kathleen Panagiotes and Collene Thaxton, were welcomed into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony on Dec. 17.

Friends, relatives and members of the college community gathered December 17 to welcome 35 Practical Nursing graduates into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony.Each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, was welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her or his lapel by a fellow nurse – a family member, friend or faculty member. MWCC’s eight-star pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World” with the nursing symbol in the middle.

Robert LaBonte, Vice President of Finance and Administration, congratulated the students on behalf of the college and President Daniel M. Asquino, and Eileen Costello, Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs & Social Sciences, delivered greetings from the Nursing Department.

Faculty member Lisa Gendron delivered the keynote address, congratulating the graduates on their achievement and offering words of encouragement as they begin their nursing careers. “Your pinning ceremony is a celebration of all the sacrifices you have endured to be here this evening. So congratulate yourselves as we congratulate you all.”

Like many of the graduates, Gendron began her healthcare career as a nurse assistant, before becoming a licensed practical nurse and an registered nurse. An alumna of MWCC’s associate degree nursing program, she went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. Gendron encouraged the students to continue their education as lifelong learners.

“There are few investements that will yield as high an investment as education.”

Graduates Vanesa Sanchez and Monica Mbugua, delivered student addresses, and classmates Amy Lovern, Elizabeth Carville, Noella Vautour, Rebekah Thompson and Megan Rivard presented on the significance of the pinning ceremony and its traditions, including the lighting of the lamp and the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

Reflecting on the rigorous academic program, Mbugua said, “We are students of different ages, from different nationalities, with different life experiences, and we are here tongiht sharing the same stage because we’ve worked hard to be here.”

“We have experienced so much in one year,” said Sanchez, a class representative. “Some sad times, some happy times, and some amazing times that will help define us as nurses for the rest of our lives. We have witnessed new life enter the world, aided in the end of life care, and all the stages in between. In these moments I have watched my classmates grow. Our compassion is unmatchable, our perseverence is inspiring and our love for nursing is evident in everything we do.”

As part of the one-year academic program, the students trained with professionals at 23 clinical sites that partner with the college, including Athol Hospital; Clinton Hospital; Community Health Connections; DaVita Dialysis Center; Fitchburg Adult Day Health; Gardner Adult Day Health Centers; Gardner Rehabilitation & Nursing Center; Golden Living Center; Habit OPCO; Heywood Hospital MHU/GPU; Heywood Hospital Maternity Center; HealthAlliance, Leominster Birthing Center; Leominster Public School District; Life Care, the Highlands; Life Care, The Highlands Adult Day Health; Nashoba Nursing Service and Hospice; North Central Charter Essential School; North Quabbin Adult Day Health Center; St. Peter-Marian Jr.-Sr. High School; St. Vincent Hospital, Seven Hills Pediatric Center; Stetson School; and Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital.