Campus Life

business plan competition group photo cropped

Teen entrepreneurs Matthew Aronson and Rachelle Wailes, pictured center among fellow competitors and several judges, took first place in MWCC’s business Plan Competition with their FLEXFIT stretching device.

A team of Leominster teenagers came a step closer to manufacturing an exercise devise designed to improve flexibility and prevent injury, after taking first place in MWCC’s Business Plan Competition. During a close, but friendly competition, three finalists presented their proposals to a panel of judges during the evening event on Feb. 24 in the North Café.

The panel of judges comprised of local business and community leaders concurred that each finalist presented strong, well-researched plans, though the KRAM Wellness Group, which is gearing up to manufacture its first product – a mobile compact stretching devise called the FLEXFIT – edged out the competition.

St. Bernard High School freshmen Rachelle Wailes, Matthew Aronson and their number one supporters (their parents) impressed judges with the mobile stretching device. The team developed the devise while competing in the eCYBERMISSION STEM national competition as middle school students. They began the process after consulting with Dr. Lyle Micheli, noted director of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team, which also includes classmate Kathryn Schatia who was unable to attend the event,  won $2,000, plus an assortment of consulting and professional services.

Karen Kiver Patalan of Boylston received $1,000 and professional services as the second-place winner for her proposal to expand her electronic medical record software service. Patalan, a registered dietician, created the KaiZen RD EMR expressly for registered dietitians in private practice. The product eliminates the need for paper charts while producing professional client and physician notes as it electronically bills for free, all during the patient visit.

Third prize went to Jonathan Tyler of Shirley, a business major at Fitchburg State University, and Daniel Lafond of Fitchburg, who graduated from Fitchburg State with an economics degree, who impressed the judges with their proposal to open the region’s first e-hookah lounge for patrons ages 18 and above. The duo proposed the Absolem Lounge (named after the hookah-puffing caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland) to provide an alternative nightlife and entertainment venue in Fitchburg. They received $500, plus additional prizes.

MWCC launched the competition in November during National Entrepreneurship Month to help stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in North Central Massachusetts.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s particularly true in North Central Massachusetts,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “We’re very grateful to our sponsors and judges who also support local businesses and start-ups.”

The competition’s premier sponsor was the office of Ronald M. Ansin. The Sentinel & Enterprise was the media sponsor. Competition judges and sponsored also included Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union; Linda Racine, executive vice president of Rollstone Bank & Trust; Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Mutti of the office of Ronald Ansin. The North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce also served as sponsors.

“It was a very close competition,” said MWCC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Jeremiah Riordon, who served as emcee and coordinator of the contest.

In addition to the cash awards, prizes included advertising and consulting opportunities, free credit and noncredit courses at MWCC, graphic design services, consultations with marketing and legal experts, and business supplies.

 

WHC-30The Wicked Hangin Chads, a Boston-based reggae fusion band influenced by Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff among others, will perform a free concert Saturday, March 14 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

The concert will serve as a live training event for students enrolled in MWCC’s Media Arts and Technology program, as well as provide hands-on experience for college students in other disciplines. High school students visiting the campus prior to the concert have been invited discover how the world of music and broadcasting intersect by participating in event set up.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. in the theatre of the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center. Doors open at 7:30 and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Husband and wife Rick and Celia Chadwick have been performing together for more than three decades, joining talented musicians from as far away as Dubai and as diverse as a West African drummer and a traditional Indian instrumentalist. They formed the Wicked Hangin Chads six years ago, offering a mix of original reggae, reggae hybrid and ska with a Latin blues flavor. The band has summer residency at the Barking Crab restaurant in Boston and has played numerous venues over the years including the Hard Rock Cafe.

“We do one concert a year as a training event for students enrolled in five different courses,” said John Little, chair of the Media Arts and Technology department. “In their chosen disciplines, they take part in promotion, set design, lighting, recording, photography, video camera operation video directing, video editing, audio mixing and mastering, poster design, and product design.”

“I’m thrilled to have a seven piece reggae band as our act this year. They will provide our video and audio students a wonderful challenge. In the weeks that follow these annual concerts, we regularly hear from our students that the concert was the most beneficial day of their entire time at college. And THAT is music to my ears,” Little said.

Media Arts and Technology student Trevor Buckingham, a musician who has performed with the Chads, recommended the band for this year’s performance.

During this public event, concert attendees agree to be recorded in the audience in photos, video and/or audio for DVD, Internet, television and other promotional materials. The resulting Blu-Ray/DVD will be offered by the band to their fan base, run on cable access channels, and will be used by MWCC in promotional pieces.

“The Wicked Hangin Chads are absolutely thrilled to be working with the faculty and students of Mount Wachusett Community College and we are humbled by the attention and the focus that we are getting,” said Rick Chadwick. “We’re very thankful and happy to be part of it. The DVD we’re going to have as part of this performance is going to be paramount to our promos.”

 

 

 

 

Gail Thomas

Gail Thomas

MWCC is celebrating Women’s History Month with several events in March.

On Thursday, March 5, author and poet Gail Thomas will present a poetry reading at 12:30 in the North Café. Thomas has published two books of poetry, No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley, (Haley’s) and Finding the Bear (Perugia). Her poems have appeared in more than 30 literary journals and anthologies. She has won the Robert Hearst Prize and the Pat Schneider Prize for poems that appear in her book, Waving Back, which will be published by Word Tech’s Turning Point imprint in 2015.

Thomas is the recipient of writing and teaching grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross. She was a founding artist and trainer for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative and has collaborated with artists across the state for workshops and performances. Thomas has led community writing workshops at schools, hospitals, libraries and senior centers, as well as private poetry craft workshops. Thomas is a learning specialist and teaches at Smith College.

In conjunction with the Student Life Film Series, the documentary “Malala: A Girl from Paradise” will be presented on Wednesday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. This documentary is about Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee who survived an assassination attempt at age 15 for her determined efforts to defend girls’ education in Pakistan, after the Taliban outlawed schools for girls in her native Swat Valley.

The Women’s HerStory Project will return with a display in the South Cafe. Students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism 1 class and the office of Student Life will display photos with feature articles of MWCC faculty and staff who play an important role in the lives of students. The women featured in the HerStory project will be recognized during a Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26.

Singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek will perform during the Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26 from 12:30 to 1:30 in the South Café. Described as a performer with the robust, velvety vocals of Norah Jones, the folk-pop elements of Anna Nalick and the quirky poeticism of Ingrid Michaelson, Gniadek’s minimalist musical style and clever lyricism is unexpected even in someone mature beyond her 24 years.

 

MWCC 2015 COMECC UWNCM campaign 1

MWCC employees donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Pictured from left, President Daniel M. Asquino, MWCC COMECC chair Connie Helstowski, Phil Grzewinski, President of the United Way of NCM, and campus campaign coordinator Nancy Thibodeau.

Mount Wachusett Community College faculty and staff have donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Over the past five years, college employees have contributed more than $309,000 to aid those in need.

“I am very proud of the generosity our faculty and staff demonstrated during this campaign and past campaigns,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Collectively, the contributions made by Mount Wachusett Community College employees greatly benefit residents in our region and throughout the Commonwealth. This represents a huge investment in our communities,” he said.

The annual campaign at MWCC is coordinated by the college’s Human Resources office, with Director of Payroll and Benefits Connie Helstowski serving as campaign chair and Staff Assistant Nancy Thibodeau serving as campaign coordinator.

Established in 1984, COMECC gives state employees the opportunity to support private, nonprofit health and human services and environmental organizations. Each year, more than $2 million is raised statewide to assist children, families and communities in Massachusetts, as well as national and global charitable endeavors.

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Veterans Services Director Bob Mayer

Veteran services officials from colleges and universities throughout the country had the opportunity to learn about Mount Wachusett Community College’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success during a recent national conference.MWCC Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer was selected to present on “Student Veterans’ Centers: Designing to Implementation to Upgrading,” during the 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference Feb. 8 – 10 in Louisville, KY.

Mayer, a veteran of the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard, participated on the panel with administrators from the University of Arizona, the University of South Florida, Bowling Green State University, and Keiser University. His remarks focused on the growth of the college’s Veterans Success Center and its partnerships with Veterans Administration and local and state veteran support groups to augment services to students.

The 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference was designed to provide a forum for experienced professionals focusing on institutional policy, programming and other emerging issues in serving military students and veterans.

 

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.”

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Henry David Thoreau

MWCC’s Humanities Project, East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord: Walden and Beyond, continues during the spring semester with several community book discussions and a poetry reading. The events, inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, are free and open to the public.

A discussion on Cal Armistead’s “Being Henry David,” will take place Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Gardner campus. In Armistead’s debut novel about a teen in search of himself, 17-year-old “Hank” lands at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything – who he is, where he came from or why he’s running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David – or “Hank” – and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of – Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. As Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past, he realizes that the only way he can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories.

A book discussion on Jane Langton’s mystery, “The Transcendental Murder,” will take place Thursday, March 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Leominster Public Library. In this first Homer Kelly mystery, Langton takes readers to Concord, where a manuscript that may or may not have been written by Thoreau is at the center of a mysterious murder.

“American Primitive,” Mary Oliver’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry, will be the topic of a book discussion Thursday, March 26 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Fitchburg Public Library. This collection of 50 poems offers readers a lesson in stillness and observation. Called “an indefatigable guide to the natural world,” Oliver’s book keeps alive the tradition that Thoreau began a century and a half earlier.

A poetry reading with Gail Thomas, author of “No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley,” will take place Wednesday, April 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library. Thomas’s collection of poems recreates with grace and dignity the voices of the men and women of the Swift River Valley who were displaced when the Quabbin Reservoir was created. What would Thoreau have said about this reclaiming of the natural world at the expense of community and individual autonomy?

Funded by a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project is an ongoing initiative designed to strengthen the college’s humanities curriculum, support collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities, examine the intersection between the humanities and other academic disciplines, and engage MWCC and the community in the discussion of enduring themes from the world’s many cultures and traditions. For more information, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

ScoundrelsMount Wachusett Community College’s Theatre at the Mount kicks off its 2015 season with the scamming, scheming, double-crossing hit Broadway musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels beginning February 27.

Based on the popular 1988 MGM film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels centers on two con men living on the French Riviera – the suave and sophisticated Lawrence Jameson, who makes his lavish living by talking rich ladies out of their money; and a small-time crook named Freddy Benson, who, more humbly, swindles women by waking their compassion with fabricated stories about his grandmother’s failing health.

After meeting on a train, they unsuccessfully attempt to work together only to find that this small French town isn’t big enough for the two of them. So they make a bet: the first one to swindle $50,000 from a young heiress triumphs and the other must leave town. What follows are a series of schemes, masquerades and double-crosses in which nothing may ever be exactly what it seems.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opened on Broadway in 2005 to rave reviews. Clive Barnes raved in The New York Post, “A knockout punch to Broadway’s funny bone! One of the liveliest, funniest, best-performed musicals in years. Super-smart and superior in every way.”  In the The Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout proclaimed, “I know funny when I see it, and this show is a perfect hoot!  A big hit.”

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was awarded 11 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. The show features a book by Jeffrey Lane and music and lyrics by David Yazbek (The Full Monty).

Theatre at the Mount’s cast will be led by David Allen Prescott as Lawrence Jameson and Doug Dame as Freddy Benson, both residents of Fitchburg. The show also features Gardner resident Kaara McHugh as Christine Colgate, Trish Aponte of Clinton as Muriel Eubanks, Michael Celularo as Andre Thibault and Rachael Rossi as Jolene Oakes.

The ensemble includes Elizabeth Vetesse, Hailee Martin, Hayley Blackmer, Jessica Tomer, Jillian Whitney, Lisa Tierney, Michelle Heffner, Shani Farrell, Susie Shepardson, Bryan Landgren, Joel LeBlanc, Keith Wolosz, Stephen Allain, Nick Marques and Nick Landry.

Performances are February 27, 28, March 6, 7 at 8 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the Theatre at the Mount Box office, by phone at 978-630-9388 or online at www.mwcc.edu/tam.

- Gail Steele

 

092011ecMWCC_FALLWith the start of 2015, we continue a transformational era at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Just a few years ago, we reached a pinnacle of our renewable energy portfolio with the construction and activation of two wind turbines that together are meeting all of the electricity demand on our Gardner campus. Wind energy followed on the heels of a biomass heating system, solar-powered hot water and significant conservation measures, and within a decade our college transformed from a costly energy consumer to a nationally and state recognized leader in cost-effective sustainability.

This spring, we eagerly anticipate breaking ground on our new $40 million science and technology building, which will allow us to continue growing our science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. Coupled with innovative, new STEM courses, generous scholarship opportunities and seamless degree transfer pathways, students are benefiting from a quality, more affordable academic foundation leading into high-growth career sectors.

As exciting as new construction is, there is more than a physical transformation underway at MWCC.

With each community service learning project, act of volunteerism, and civic-building activity performed by our students, our positive impact on the cities and towns in North Central Massachusetts, the commonwealth, and our country expands.

Our students, faculty and staff who continually seek new and greater ways to meet the real needs of real people and real organizations within our communities and our world, are key to this transformation. In fact, their endeavors, guided by our outstanding Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement team, have placed MWCC on the national map as a leader in this growing movement  in higher education. We recently earned continued standing on the prestigious Civic Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and on the President’s National Higher Education Honor Roll for Civic Engagement.

During the last academic year, more than 144,000 hours were devoted to service learning, internships, practicums and volunteerism, representing a dollar value to our communities of $3.5 million. Consider the difference that has made on the lives of countless individuals and nonprofit organizations within our area! Now imagine what things would be like today without the involvement of our engaged faculty and our students, who carry these experiences and values with them after graduation.

Our student support services and program delivery have also transformed to meet the needs of 21st century learners, from veterans and military families, to students of all ages seeking creative, tailored solutions to traditional academic paths, to the companies and industries seeking skilled workers to grow their businesses.

In recent weeks, the strength of community colleges like MWCC again gained national attention with President Obama’s proposal to make community colleges free to students who maintain good grades and stay on track to graduate within three years. The America’s College Promise proposal emphasizes the need to transform national education priorities to avoid a critical shortage of college-educated citizens in comparison to other world leaders, by creating a free K-14 system as the new norm.

Through our long-standing partnerships with area K-12 school districts, are already making tremendous progress in this regard. In a newly released report, the Rennie Center highlights our Gateway to College, Pathways Early College Innovation School, Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech and other dual enrollment opportunities for their success preparing more teens for rigorous college-level work while still in high school.

While the details and implementation of the President’s proposal remain a matter of national debate, the proposal again raises greater awareness to the major role community colleges play in the economic vitality of our country, and in the investment we as a nation must make in the people who shape our communities.

james baldwin

James Baldwin

Black History Month is observed as a remembrance of important people and events in the history of African Americans. In recognition, MWCC will host several events in February at its Gardner campus. All events, sponsored by the office of Student Life, are free and open to the public.The series of events begins with the screening of “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket,” on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. Director Karen Thorsen will attend the event and host a discussion following the film and a light lunch will be served.

Baldwin, a major 20th century American author and a Civil Rights activist, called upon Americans, black and white, to confront their shared racial tragedy. The film captures the passionate intellect and courageous writing a man who was born black, impoverished, gay and gifted.

The series continues with the film “Standing on my Sisters’ Shoulders,” on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. This award-winning documentary tells the story of three Mississippi who walked into the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D. C. in 1965 to seek their civil rights. These legends give their firsthand testimony and capture a piece of history that is often overlooked in history books. Their achievements go beyond the cotton fields of Mississippi or even the coast of American of Black History Month.

The Bamidele Dancers and Drummers will perform on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 12:30 p.m. in the south café. The BDD are art educators, composers, musicians, dancers and choreographers from Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean who are dedicated to the preservation of African and African rooted cultures through dance, music and song. Members have expertise in African, Caribbean and Brazilian culture.