Campus Life

united-way-day-of-caring-mwcc-sept-16-2016

Photo by Eddie Vargas

A group of nearly 200 enthusiastic volunteers at Mount Wachusett Community College worked in shifts throughout the day to more than double last year’s efforts to combat hunger in the region.

Through the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, students, faculty and staff teamed up in assembly lines to package 46,872 meals to serve families in need. The meals were distributed in the afternoon to food pantries and veterans centers in North Central Massachusetts.

The college became a Day of Caring host site in 2013, following years of participation in off-campus activities, and the event continues to grow each year, said Jana Murphy, a Liberal Arts & Sciences major who spearheaded this year’s packaging event in her role as this year’s Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA.

MWCC participated along with numerous other organizations in North Central Massachusetts, recognizing the 21st annual United Way Day of Caring.

Outreach, Inc., an Iowa-based nonprofit that also operates in the Northeast, provided supplies to create packages of meals consisting of macaroni and cheese and rice and beans.

sept-11-cards-2016

Twins Jessie and Jammie Mascitti pause to write a note of appreciation to area first responders in commemoration of Sept. 11.

MWCC student volunteers are collecting notes of appreciation for first responders in the region who put their lives in jeopardy for the sake of others, as a way of honoring the nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

For the second year, the activity was coordinated by the college’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success and the Student Leaders in Civic Engagement (SLICE) program, an initiative of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Volunteers provided and collected cards throughout the day on Monday, Sept 12. Cards will be available for signing at the Gardner campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. before they are distributed. Each year, the college community also pauses to remember Carrie Beth Progen, a 1995 alumna from Ashburnham who was among the victims at the World Trade Center.

A memorial to Carrie, located adjacent to the library entrance, was created several years ago in collaboration with her parents, Don and Kathy Progen, and her brother, Matt, all alumni of MWCC. A scholarship created by the Progen family in Carrie’s memory is awarded to an art student each year through the MWCC Foundation.

MWCC President Daniel M AsquinoIt hardly seems possible that three decades have passed since I first arrived at Mount Wachusett Community College. Yet a look back at the many innovative programs, initiatives and events that have transpired provides proof that we, as a college community, have not only grown, but are blazing a trail into the future.

Over the past 18 months we have witnessed the transformation of our main campus in Gardner, with the addition of our new, 44,000-square-foot science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building, as well as extensive renovations to the Haley Academic Center and Theatre at the Mount. This week we began the academic year welcoming students into our new advising center, refurbished dining areas and ample gathering places.

Our state-of-the-art science and technology building will well serve our future medical professionals, engineers, research scientists and others working in the STEM fields, as well as provide enhanced academic opportunities for students of all majors. In the coming weeks, faculty and students will move into the new classrooms and laboratory spaces, and we look forward to welcoming the greater community to tour our new facilities during an open house this fall.

In addition to unveiling our campus upgrades, we begin this academic year with several new transfer opportunities and new courses of study, including new certificate programs in substance abuse counseling, community health, and public relations, which are designed to meet employers’ needs in our region.

The year ahead also provides many community-focused events, from exhibits in our East Wing Gallery to theatre performances and informative presentations. We’ll also begin the third year of the MWCC Humanities Project. Funded through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, events and activities will take place on campus and in the community with an artistic focus on the theme, “Imagining Work.”

I encourage members of our college community and the greater community to join us in celebrating another new year of innovation.

 

 

MWCC new student orientation 2016

President Asquino welcomes students during an orientation for new students on Sept. 1.

Mount Wachusett Community College students will begin the academic year amid a sea of change at the Gardner campus, following more than a year of construction and extensive renovations.

Approximately 950 new students got an early look at the campus’ transformation during day, evening and program-specific orientations held over the past week in advance of the new academic year, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Students will notice substantial changes to the Haley academic building and theater, as well as a new 44,000-square-foot science and technology building. The college will transition into the new building this month.

A majority of the new day students attended orientation on Thursday, Sept. 1, which included a half-day of seminars and other activities. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators greeted the incoming students and encouraged them to become involved with campus activities and to tap into college resources and services.

President Asquino emphasized that during their time at MWCC, students will be working in partnership with faculty and staff to reach their academic and career goals.

“Together, we want to make certain that you achieve that dream, that goal and that aspiration.”

The president also announced that plans are underway for construction of a new student center and repaving of the college’s driveways and parking lots. Both projects are in the planning stages with construction anticipated next spring summer.

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at MWCC,” said Dean of Students Jason Zelesky. “These changes represent our commitment to excellence in education and meeting the needs of the students and communities that we work so hard to serve.”

Coordinated by the office of Student Life, the orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs and activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about academic resources, and attended a student club expo.

Alberto Olivas, founding executive director of the Congressman Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at Arizona State University, was the keynote speaker. Olivas, who also addressed faculty and staff, spoke on the importance of embedding civic engagement within classroom instruction in a way that allows students to make “connections between what they’re learning in the classroom and what is going on in the world and in their lives.”

 

 

MWCC STEM Starter Academy 2016

STEM Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

MWCC’s third annual STEM Starter Academy came to a close in August, following a seven-week schedule that provided two free academic courses with textbooks, academic support, and a stipend for participants.

More than 30 students from throughout the region enrolled in one or two courses such as a four-credit lab science and one general elective. In addition to earning up to seven free credits toward their STEM Pathway, the students toured the college’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, received presentations on STEM careers, and explored MWCC’s transfer opportunities for its graduates.

“We are excited to complete our third annual summer program for local learners pursuing a degree in STEM fields,” said Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics. “This summer’s Academy was outstanding. We nearly doubled the number of participants who attended in 2015 as the word is spreading about this amazing opportunity. Students have increased confidence in the areas of time management, study skills and ability to access to the college’s numerous student services. Some of the greatest areas of growth for the students include their interactions with college faculty, the willingness to access academic tutoring, and to assist one another and establish study groups. We are already looking forward to welcoming the summer 2017 STEM Starter Academy students!”

Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the STEM Starter Academy is open to high school graduates or qualifying MWCC students who place into college-level English and math courses and are enrolling in one of MWCC’s STEM majors in the fall.

Qualifying MWCC STEM majors include analytical lab and quality systems, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer information systems, exercise and sports science, fire science technology, graphic and interactive design, interdisciplinary studies-allied health, medical laboratory technology, natural resources, physics, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy.

Courses offered during the summer academy included intermediate algebra, introduction to functions and modeling, life sciences for allied health, chemistry, statistics and introduction to psychology. In addition to the coursework, the students also participated in MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy on Aug. 23 and 24.

“Our students have had an outstanding summer and are ready to continue their studies this fall with two courses already under their belt,” said Christine Davis, MWCC’s STEM Starter Academy recruiter. Students from approximately a dozen area towns enrolled in the rigorous program, and tackled classes in an accelerated format that will prepare them for their careers, she said.

Many of the academy students are also recipients of STEM SET scholarships at MWCC. These awards of up to $3,500 per year are available to qualifying STEM majors through a grant the college received from the National Science Foundation.

In another MWCC STEM program supported by the DHE this summer, nearly 40 high school seniors participated in a four-credit introduction to physical science course and toured the college’s new science and technology building that is nearing completion.

For more information, contact MWCC’s admission’s office at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega, Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino

Media Arts & Technology Major Jasson Alvarado Gomez was sworn in as Mount Wachusett Community College’s Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 academic year. Pictured, from left: Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega, Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino

Mount Wachusett Community College student Jasson Alvarado Gomez is stepping in to two key leadership positions for the upcoming academic year.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, the Media Arts & Technology major was appointed to the college’s Board of Trustees, following a spring election by his peers. This fall, the Worcester resident will be appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education as a full voting member representing all students attending the state’s 29 colleges and universities.

“Jasson is making a tremendous difference in the lives of students and residents of our area through his active participation on campus and in the community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Being appointed to these two key positions is a wonderful achievement for him and I’m certain he will serve MWCC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the students, quite admirably.”

An aspiring filmmaker, Alvarado Gomez is a 2015 graduate of MWCC’s Gateway to College dual enrollment program in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, and previously attended Burncoat High School in Worcester.

At MWCC, he has served on the Student Government Association, as president of the ALANA Club, and on the Campus Activities Team for Students and SAGA organizations. He has served as a student ambassador and a volunteer for the United Way Day of Caring and the SGA annual food drive, and is a recipient of the Gateway Community Service Award.

While at Burncoat, Alvarado Gomez was a member of the National Honor Society, the Foreign Language Honor Society, the Dreamers Club and the JROTC, and is a recipient of the JROTC Outstanding Cadet Award and Community Service Award. He previously volunteered with the YMCA in Sutton and the Boys & Girls Club of Blackstone Valley.

Alvarado Gomez, who will earn an associate degree in May 2017, said he is grateful for the support and encouragement he received from MWCC faculty and staff, and believes the experience and insight he has gained serving on the Student Government Association has helped prepare him to be a voice for all students.

“This is an opportunity for me to be a better leader, and an opportunity to show what I can do for the community. I’m going to do the best that I can so I can leave something good behind for the students.”

3 Chamber breakfast President Asquino groupVisionary. Collaborative. Energetic. Dedicated. Pioneering. Inclusive. A true leader.

These were among the words and phrases used by area legislators, mayors and business leaders to describe retiring Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino during a breakfast sponsored in his honor by three regional Chambers of Commerce.

More than 200 business and community leaders gathered June 24 in the college’s South Café to toast, and occasionally roast, the long-serving president, who has announced his plans to retire in early 2017 following three decades at the helm of the college and 47 years in Massachusetts public higher education.

“Dan’s resume is long and is far reaching, not only in North Central Massachusetts, but throughout the Commonwealth and in higher education nationwide,” said retired State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, who served as master of ceremonies. “He is a visionary leader whose emphasis on community engagement and collaboration has left a continuing legacy.”

The president was lauded for his leadership in key areas, including championing access to higher education; K-12, business and industry and community partnerships; civic engagement; and sustainability.

State Sen. Anne Gobi and State Rep. Jon Zlotnik shared remarks on behalf of the region’s legislative delegation. Additional speakers included Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke and Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, who are both alumni of the college; Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale; Raymond LaFond, senior vice president at Enterprise Bank, who spoke on behalf of the college’s Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors; and Jim Bellina, president of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce.

Bellina, along with Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce President Melissa Fetterhoff and Roy Nascimento, president of the North Central Chamber of Commerce, presented Dr. Asquino with a $1,000 donation to the MWCC Foundation for the newly created Class of 2016 scholarship fund.

“Thank you, President Asquino, for giving us leadership by example,” Bellina said.

Senator Gobi shared a story of working with determined MWCC students on a legislative bill focused on consumer protection as an example of the president’s impact on encouraging young people to become engaged citizens. “Students and the community. That’s something that President Asquino has never, ever forgotten.”

President Asquino acknowledged that there is still much to do during the remainder of his tenure, including completing construction of the college’s $42 million science and technology building and campus renovations. “My focus right now is on Mount Wachusett Community College.”

He said he is most proud of the service provided to students by the college’s faculty and staff, the college’s economic impact on the region, and leadership in academic, workforce and community endeavors.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and to achieve my dream,” President Asquino said. “I certainly will miss all of you. I’ll miss the opportunity this position has given me to give back.”

In addition to the three chambers, event sponsors included Advanced Cable Ties, Inc., Heywood HealthCare, MWCC, HeathAlliance Hospital, Heat Trace Products, Workers’ Credit Union, GFA Federal Credit Union, RCAP Solutions, Perkins, Fidelity Bank, GVNA Healthcare, Inc, Lynde Hardware & Supply, C.M. Chartier Contracting, MassDevelopment, Gervais Ford, Apple Valley Center, IC Federal Credit Union, The Shine Initiative, Enterprise Bank, Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Daly’s Property Shoppe, and the Gardner Redevelopment Authority.

Theatre at the Mount Jeff Boisseau and LG Karyn Polito

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Theatre at the Mount Technical Director Jeff Boisseau during the June 23 reception.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Theatre at the Mount is the recipient of a $49,600 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to update its sound system.

The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, administered through a partnership between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, fosters the growth of the creative economy by supporting building projects in the nonprofit arts, humanities and sciences. This new round of funding includes 68 capital grants totaling $8.9 million and 23 planning grants totaling more than $400,000. Grants range from $7,000 to $300,000 and are matched from private of other public sources.

The grant, which will be matched by MWCC, will be used to replace the theater’s aging analog sound system. The updated digital sound system will improve the audience experience, particularly for patrons who require hearing assistance or other special needs.

“Making high quality theater affordable and accessible for everyone is our highest priority,” said Professor Gail Steele, director of Theatre at the Mount. “This grant will allow us to make major strides in achieving our goal.”

The award was announced during a reception in Worcester on Thursday, June 23 with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Jeff Boisseau, technical director and set designer, and Joseph Stiso, vice president of planning, development and institutional research, accepted the award on behalf of the college.

“Our administration is proud to support these capital investments in the creative economy,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The rich history of our cities and towns is an important draw for out-of-state visitors, and these grants will help direct private investments into these projects.”

Now entering its 40th year, Theatre at the Mount is in the midst of a makeover, including a new lobby, box office and ADA improvements as part of a $41 million addition and renovation project to the Gardner campus.

“We’re very grateful to receive this grant,” Boisseau said. “We’re hoping to have these new features installed before we reopen later this year.”

Located in the college’s Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center, Theatre at the Mount serves the community as a premier regional theater presenting high quality entertainment at affordable prices. TAM’s season consists of five full-scale musicals and plays, a spring children’s show and a fall touring production performed at local elementary schools. Additionally, TAM offers summer drama programs for children and teens and sponsors the annual TAMY Awards program, which celebrates excellence in high school musicals.

In a statement earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker noted the new investments will drive tourism and benefit residents and visitors for years to come. Since 2007, CFF has invested nearly $92 million in the state’s creative sector for projects in more than 130 cities and towns.

“We thank Governor Baker and his administration for its continued support of this vital source of creative capital,” said Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The grants are highly competitive. In this round of funding, the state received 146 applications seeking nearly $25 million for projects with total development costs of more than $200 million. Steele, Boisseau and Grant Writer/Development Specialist Moira Adams are the lead investigators for the project. In 2013, Theatre at the Mount received a $30,000 CFF grant to replace its lighting system.

Upcoming Theatre at the Mount productions include Almost, Maine on June 24, 25 and 26, and Hairspray on Aug. 12, 13, 19, 20 and 21. Due to current construction, these performances will take place at Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham. For more information, visit mwcc.edu/tam or contact the box office at 978-630-9388.