Campus Life

Winners Photo

“The Trivial Pursuits,” winners of the first MWCC Alumni Association Quiz Night, from left, Karen Doherty, Shawn LaRoche, Joseph Stiso and John Doherty.

On Thursday evening, January 8, “Quizters” and spectators braved the arctic cold and made a spectacular showing at the Mount Wachusett Community College Alumni Association’s first annual “Quiz Night” event.

In a dynamic game of question and answer, teams tested their knowledge related to current topics and college-related trivia. Promoted as a fun and entertaining evening, the event proved to be just that. Teams were encouraged to give themselves humorous names and to come dressed in costume. Many did, adding to the amusing atmosphere. Complementing the levity of the evening was Master of Ceremonies, Mayor Mark Hawke, whose quick wit truly entertained the crowd. “I didn’t find the questions all that difficult, but then again I had the answers” Mayor Hawke commented. “What a fantastic night and a great way to raise funds for the MWCC Foundation.”

“This turned out to be a great way to raise much needed funds for student scholarships” said Carol Jacobson, Associate Director Alumni Relations at MWCC. “Being our first effort with this event, we are thrilled with the level of support and enthusiasm we received from members of the community and within the college. We’re already looking ahead to next year.”

Thomas Mutti from the Ronald M. Ansin Foundation participated as a member of the HealthAlliance Hospital team. “I can’t imagine a better night for a better cause” he said. “Fun was had by all and a day later I’m still laughing.”

The event netted nearly $3,000 and proceeds will fund student scholarships through the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Survivor BGCFL benefit 2014

Participants in last year’s Survivor: The Musical benefit performance helped raise $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. On Friday, Jan. 23, prominent local leaders will take to the stage at MWCC’s Theatre at the Mount to support the club.

Twenty contestants, two tribes, but only one “Survivor.” Local celebrities will try to “out sing, out perform and out shine” the competition in Survivor, the Musical, an upcoming Theatre at the Mount production to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.Tickets are now on sale for the event, which will take place at Mount Wachusett Community College on Friday, Jan. 23. Following upon the success of last year’s event, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, BGCFL Executive Director Donata Martin and business and community leaders will appear as featured contestants.

Performers will compete in this take-off on the popular TV reality show. Singing, dancing, acting, puzzles, trivia, and the dreaded “tribal council” will provide a full evening of non-stop fun. Survivor, the Musical is conceived and hosted by Theatre at the Mount veteran Chris Casello.

“We are delighted to once again offer this fun evening of entertainment to benefit the children served by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Survivor the Musical, featuring well-known members of our community, promises to be an evening of exceptional entertainment for a worthy cause. Having received the support of this national organization as a child, I know first-hand that the opportunities and experiences are transformative.”

Since 2001, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has worked in youth development with young people ages 8 to 18 from many economic, social and family circumstances.

“We are grateful for the community’s generosity and ongoing support of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and its many fine programs, and to Mount Wachusett Community College in particular for serving as our primary sponsor and host of this event,” said Justin Gelinas, president of the Club’s Board of Directors. “The collective efforts of individuals, corporations and organizations help us fulfill the Club’s mission of inspiring and enabling young people to realize their full potential.”

Tickets to the dinner and theatre performance are $100 per person, and tables of eight or 10 are available. For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, contact Patty Fields at 978-534-8358, ext. 17 or email pfields@bgcfl.org. Dinner and theatre tickets may also be purchased through MWCC by contacting Lois Cox at 978-630-9101 or lcox@mwcc.mass.edu. Dinner reservations are requested by Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets to attend only the performance are $20 and are available through the Theatre at the Mount box office at 978-630-9388 or online at www.mwcc.edu/tam.

 

Tom Matsuda and Sculpture I students fall 2014

Art Professor Thomas Matsuda, front right, with Sculpture I students near one of nine site specific installment pieces created this semester.

Proving once again the power of art outside the gallery, MWCC students wrapped up the fall semester by installing nine sculptures throughout the Gardner campus.

The project, new this year to Art Professor Tom Matsuda’s Sculpture I course, provided students with the opportunity to create site specific installment tailored to a particular location on campus. Earlier in the semester, the class created sculptures from nature that were located inside and outside the campus.

“It’s great to have an environment where we can share art with the student body,” said Kyle Johnson, president of the student art club. ““We’ve had such great response from the college, which really motivates us. It’s invaluable for the art program here,” said Johnson, who worked with classmate Amber Martinez to create a colorful, multi-piece cloth sculpture they installed in the Commons.

Other participating students include Heather Chadsey (sculpture located near theater box office); Julia Stokes (art wing); Alexander Singleton (Commons and art wing); Bethany Proctor (art wing); Samantha Rutkowski (art wing stairwell to basement); James Ham (art wing) Garret Watson (art wing stairwell to second floor); Isabela Bourque (Commons).

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.

 

Diversity Competition 2014

President Daniel M. Asquino, right, and Diversity Committee Co-Chair Carla Morrissey, left, congratulate the winners of this year’s President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition, Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka. Not pictured, committee co-chair Maria Gariepy.

MWCC students Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka are the winners of the third annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course for use during the spring or summer 2015 semesters.

Walter, a Human Services major, was selected for an essay focusing on interracial relationships and reflecting on how curent issues between Caucasions and African Americans stem from unresolved power struggles dating back to the Colonial era.

Ciesluka and Pimental were selected for sculptures depicting diversity. Ciesluka, a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to pursue a nursing degree, sculpted diverse figures that collectively spell out the word “Humanity.” Pimental, also a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to continue for a Physical Therapist Assistant degree, created a globe sculpture with seven clay figures representing diversity on the seven continents.

The annual scholastic competition, sponsored by the MWCC Diversity Committee, invites students to prepare papers, posters, essays, research work, or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socioeconomic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin, as well as the value such diversity brings to the learning and working environment.

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TRIO trivia musical chairs

Where can you combine the classic party game musical chairs with TRIO trivia? At the Visions and Rx programs’ year-end party.

Dozens of students who participate in MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs shared some laughs and bits of history, along with a giant cake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federal TRIO Student Services Support programs.

Ten student volunteers dwindled to one winner in the game, with each participant taking a moment to share a TRIO fact. Among the highlights:

  • Since 1964, when TRIO launched its first program, Upward Bound, more than two million students have graduated with assistance from TRIO programs.
  • MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs serve approximately 320 students each year and are two out of 1,900 TRIO programs throughout the country.
  • More than 1,000 colleges and universities house TRIO programs, which are funded through the U.S. Department of Education.
  • There are 59 TRIO programs in Massachusetts providing services to students.
  • Celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Taye Diggs, Angela Bassett, Patrick Ewing an John Quinones were all TRIO participants.
  • Students served by TRIO graduate at a higher rate than students who do not participate in TRIO programs.
Ben Mikles mural

An exterior mural by MWCC art student Ben Mikles, one of the featured presenters during the Fall Art Student Lecture Series.

The Art Student Lecture Series, sponsored by MWCC’s Art Department, continued this fall with presentations on creating large-scale murals and marketing oneself as an artist.

“Like it or not, you’re in the sales business,” explained art major and self-starter Isabella Bourque, who presented “How to Market Yourself as An Artist” in December. “This is the presentation I wish I would have seen before I started selling artwork,” said Bourque, who noted that local, domestic and international pottery sales comprise one-third of her total income.

After purchasing an inexpensive kiln on Craig’s List, Bourque created a home studio, where she produces artwork for sale at commercial and rental galleries, commission shops and street fairs, as well as on Etsy. She similarly encouraged MWCC students to diversify their selling platforms, citing the Leominster Art Center & Gallery and the Gardner Area League of Artists as ideal venues for beginning freelancers.

By leveraging social media platforms and creating an online portfolio through Carbonmade, Bourque said she was better able to promote her work and make connections. She discussed the importance of establishing an online presence, obtaining a unique domain name and creating business cards.

Bourque, who also works as a graphic and web designer for WS Beauty Supply, also offered financial guidance, highlighting the need to maintain consistent prices, account for hours of labor, anticipate overhead costs and challenges, set aside profits and cater artwork to individual target markets. She will graduate this semester with an Associate Degree in Art.

Fall presenters also included Ben Mikles, who has extensive experience painting large-scale murals in many venues, both temporary and permanent using spray paint and brushes. Mikles spoke about his technique, materials, and process.

The Art Student Lecture Series was launched during the spring 2014 semester, with presenters Jennifer Mondestin, who discussed her recently published graphic novel and other commissions; Dylan Safford, who presented on digital painting using Photoshop; Robert G. Osborne who discussed his three decades experience as an artist and gallery owner in New York City; and Corinne Goodrich, who demonstrated plein air painting techniques.

- Cameron Woodcock

 

 

MWCC student Susan Shute displays a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock, her personal "Walden." Shute was one of several students who showcased Thoreau-inspired projects as part of "East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord."

MWCC student Susan Shute displays a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock, her personal “Walden.” Shute was one of several students who showcased Thoreau-inspired projects completed during the first semester of “East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord.”

Wrapping up a successful first semester of “East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord,” students showcased Thoreau-themed projects during a Dec. 4 exhibit. Funded through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project’s first-year theme is encouraging students to consider the lasting relevance and modern application of Thoreau’s philosophies.

“This is the best event of all and the real reason why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said English Professor and Humanities Project Coordinator Michelle Valois, referring to the presentations and exhibit as singular focus on student outcomes.

MWCC students John Alden and Susan Shute each selected the location that represents to them what Walden Pond meant to Thoreau. Alden read an essay titled “My Walden,” an account of his varied experiences at Fitchburg’s Coggshall Park. Shute displayed a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, NH.

Michael Niall read a comparative essay, “The Hermitage and the Cathedral, or Just the Everlasting Water,” on Thoreau and E.B. White’s individual relationships with nature, as described in “Walden” and “Once More to the Lake” respectively. Valois described Niall’s essay as “a healthy mixture of analytical and creative learning outcomes,” which exemplifies a community-college education.

Bethany Proctor and Samantha Rutkowski narrated a slideshow of Thoreau-inspired student sculptures, which were created using natural materials and displayed in the exterior and interior of MWCC.

Media Arts & Technology student Jack Dawson discussed “Opportunity,” an aptly titled picture taken on the road leading to MWCC. The picture reflects the inspirational nature of several Thoreau passages, as well as Dawson’s enthusiasm for his post-MWCC career.

East Meets West will continue during the spring semester with a Feb. 11 book discussion of “Being Henry David” at the MWCC Commons; a March 5 book discussion of “The Transcendental Murder” at Leominster Public Library; a March 26 book discussion of “American Primitive” at Fitchburg Public Library; and an April 15 poetry reading by Gail Thomas, author of “No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley,” at Athol Public Library. All spring events will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

This fall, the campus community also chose its second-year theme, “Myth, Monsters and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy,” based on Mary Shelley’s classic. The 1818 novel will promote discussion on the societal and personal effects of technological advancements, the potential pitfalls of these innovations, and our collective attitude toward difference.

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MWCC Honors Program students Phil Stan and Stevie LaBelle led a panel discussion on suicide awareness, which was attended by approximately 100 students. Pictured, from left, Honors Program Coordinator Sheila Murphy; Michael Ellis, project coordinator of the Men’s Suicide Prevention Program at Heywood Hospital; MWCC student Carrie DeCosta, Stan, former State Senator Robert Antonioni, and LaBelle.

Mount Wachusett Community College Honors Program students Phil Stan and Stevie LaBelle led a poignant panel discussion to promote suicide awareness and discussion and encourage their peers to think past the stigma attached to mental illness.

The three-person panel included former State Senator Robert Antonioni; Michael Ellis, project coordinator of the Men’s Suicide Prevention Program at Heywood Hospital; and MWCC student Carrie DeCosta. Representing three different perspectives on suicide and mental illness, the panelists shared their individual accounts with approximately 100 MWCC students in the college’s North Café.

“Suicide and depression do not discriminate,” said Stan, while introducing the Dec. 2 event. He lamented that suicide represents the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24, yet is still regarded as a “social taboo.”

“Elected officials look for issues to champion. That issue found me in 1999,” said Antonioni, referring to the year he lost his brother to suicide.

“Suicide is seen as a stigma to avoid, but it shouldn’t be. It should be on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and we should look to intervene and help,” he said.

“The way to get around this stigma and provide opportunity for discussion is to have forums” throughout the community, said Ellis. He encouraged students to seek education on suicide and mental illnesses, respond proactively to clear risk factors, participate in prevention training and learn to be accepting and tolerant of mental health issues. “Every single one of us has a role to play.”

“It’s important to share my story because you wouldn’t think by looking at me that I struggled with mental illnesses,” said DeCosta. “I was determined not to be a statistic and beat my illness.”

LaBelle and Stan, MWCC’s Student Trustee, organized the event as an extension of their abnormal psychology course and as a service learning project in the Honors Program.

“The fact that this many people showed up means the conversation has started,” LaBelle said.