Alumni Stories

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

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 amalkasian@mwcc.mass.edu. 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.

 

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Paintings by MWCC alumnus John Rosis (’77) will be on display in the East Wing Gallery through Dec. 7. Pictured is Rosis’ “Fresh Things,” a 2014 acrylic on canvas.

The artwork of Mount Wachusett Community College alumnus John Rosis (’77) has been presented in galleries throughout the Northeast. Currently, his paintings are on display in MWCC’s East Wing Gallery through Dec. 7, when a reception will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

Rosis works with several mediums concurrently, including large-scale paintings on canvas, small-scale reverse paintings on glass, and collages on paper. His paintings feature line, form, texture and color, as derived from nature.

With a penchant for creating complex relationships out of simple shapes, Rosis has developed a strong appreciation for the hands-on process that drives all of his painting projects.

Rosis’ work has previously been shown at Hopper House Art Center, Brooklyn Museum, Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art, and Rockland Center for the Arts in New York; Holter Museum in Montana, Southern Vermont Arts Center, Berkshire Art Museum, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Regular hours for the East Wing Gallery are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Daniel M. AsquinoAs we prepare to recognize the service of all the men and women who have served our country, I urge all of you to take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of Veterans Day and the contributions and sacrifices made by millions of Americans. About 350 veterans are currently attending Mount Wachusett Community College, and I am proud of their accomplishments both in service to their country and in our classrooms. I want to thank each of these students for their service.

The majority of these students served their country in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The history of our college has always been closely tied to our veterans. When members of our local Veterans of Foreign Wars post visit us each year to make a contribution to support student scholarships, past commander and MWCC alumnus Don Progen and others remark that when they returned home from Vietnam, they found Mount Wachusett Community College to be, “a haven.”

We strive to continue to be that haven for our veteran students. These students bring great leadership skills to our campus and ultimately to our workforce. They are a tremendous asset to our communities. I am proud that Mount Wachusett Community College has been named for the fifth consecutive year, as a “Top Military School” and is also a designated Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In addition, USA Today has named MWCC as one of its “Best Colleges for Vets” in 2014. Most recently, WGBY in Springfield filmed a segment spotlighting our residential and educational partnership with the Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center, run on a portion of campus property by the Fitchburg-based nonprofit Veterans Homestead, Inc. To view this inspiring video, go to http://ow.ly/DOW4r.

If you would like to learn more about our Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, visit mwcc.edu/veteran. I extend my deepest gratitude to our staff in this center and across the campus who work with our student veterans as they pursue their academic goals.

The campus will be closed on Veterans Day as we honor our veterans.  Please take the time for reflection and recognition of our heroes.

Mary Bergevin, Paula D'Entremont, and Sue Hermanson

MWCC’s first nursing program Director Paula d’Entremont, center, with members of the first graduating class, Mary Bergevin and Sue Hermanson.

Alumni, faculty and staff of the MWCC Nursing Program gathered on June 25 at the Gardner Campus to reconnect and celebrate four decades of nursing education at MWCC. Alumni in attendance were representative of each decade since the program was established.

Mary Bergevin and Susan Hermanson were on hand to represent the first graduating class of 1974. “This is absolutely wonderful seeing everyone together” commented Ms. Hermanson. “It took 40 years, but was well worth the wait.”  Mary Bergevin remarked that “It is exciting to reflect on the differences and advances that have been made when comparing how we learned with what the students have available to them today.”

The event featured a session on “Laughter Yoga” as well as tours of the new Sim Lab and information about continuing education programs.

Judy Fredette, ADN Nursing Program Chair who organized the event, commented “It is exciting for us, as faculty, to reconnect with our former students and retired colleagues to find out how they are doing in life, to learn if they ever went beyond MWCC in their education, where they are working now, what we did right and what we can do better.”

Many in attendance expressed their wishes to make the Nursing Alumni Reunion a regular event. If interested in helping to plan future events, please email alumni@mwcc.mass.edu.

- Carol Jacobson

2014 relay tv

President Daniel Asquino and other members of MWCC’s Relay for Life team were among the 2,155 participants in the 24-hour walk to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in support of research.

Mount Wachusett Community College students, staff and faculty were among the 2,155 participants who walked to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in this year’s Greater Gardner Relay for Life.

The 159 teams raised more than $444,000 during the 21st annual relay, held June 13 and 14 at MWCC’s fitness track. Participants and survivors walked to support loved ones battling cancer and in remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

MWCC’s relay team, chaired by Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Labonte, Professor Susan Goldstein, and campus police Lt. Melissa Crouteau, received overwhelming support from students to walk the entire 24 hours.

LaBonte thanked the college community for supporting MWCC’s team, including Theatre Technical Director and Set designer Jeffrey Boisseau, who created the team’s giant television booth in keeping with the event’s television theme this year.

The MWCC Alumni Association also hosted a team.

“Every member of the Alumni Association Relay Team has experienced firsthand how cancer affects our friends and loved ones. On our team we had at least one cancer survivor and others who have been caregivers and all of us have known someone who has fought and won, or fought and lost, a battle with cancer,” said Mark Geoffroy, vice president of the MWCC Alumni Association. “I’m so glad that Mount alumni were able to come together for this great cause.”

Over the past two decades, the event has raised over $12 million making it one of the most successful relays in the country.

-          Alexander P. Moore

 

 

Nursing Alumni Reunion

May 28, 2014

Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting a Nursing Alumni Reunion on Wednesday, June 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the South Café of the Gardner campus.

The event is free to all MWCC nursing alumni and will feature a session on “Laughter Yoga” light refreshments, prizes, tours of the new Sims Lab, networking with former classmates and professors, and information about continuing education programs.

Established more than four decades ago, MWCC’s nursing program has graduated thousands of students who went on to build careers as Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and in other areas of health care.

Reservations are requested. To register, contact Associate Degree Nursing Program Chair Judy Fredette at 978-630-9328 or email jfredette@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

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.”