Fifty-six incoming Mount Wachusett Community College students learned new skills, met new friends and volunteered in the community during the college’s 11th annual Summer Leadership Academy.
Participants attended educational workshops designed to enhance their academic and leadership skills, took part in team-building activities and completed civic engagement projects. Sponsored by the office of Student Life in collaboration with the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, the two-day program took place August 25 and 26 at the college’s Gardner campus.
Service projects included a back-pack drive to benefit children living in foster care in Massachusetts. Through donations from students, faculty, staff and local organizations and businesses, the drive yielded 123 backpacks filled with an array of school supplies. The drive exceed the goal of 100 backpacks and broke the program’s previous record of 93.
Leadership Academy participants also volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts’ ReStore center in Leominster and Cathy’s House, a residential program for women veterans in Winchendon under renovation by the Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center. Volunteers also helped prepare the college’s Fitness & Wellness Center, nature trail and campus grounds for the start of the new academic year on September 2.
The Leadership Academy is designed to give new students a jump start on their first semester, said Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement. College faculty, staff, alumni and current students take part to ensure a meaningful experience for the incoming students, he said.
“This is one of the most exciting times of the year. It’s so rewarding to see new students come in as strangers and gain friends and confidence during the two-day program.”
“Leadership Academy is a great way to become involved in school and a great way to get to know your peers,” said volunteer Carrie DeCosta of Winchendon, president of the Student Government Association.
Student Trustee Tom Berger, also of Winchendon, said the service component provides new students with an opportunity to meet people at the college and in the community.
“It gives people a sense of pride and accomplishment to be able to give back to the community.”
Zoe Hammond of Templeton, who will begin her college degree as a dual-enrolled high school student in the Pathways Early College Innovation School, said she enjoyed the experience.
“It was great to meet people before starting classes.” Hammond said she particularly enjoyed a martial arts exercise that guided each student to break a solid board with their hand during a lesson on overcoming challenges and barriers.
“It was inspiring.”