Campus Life

Walking the Talk of Peace

February 25, 2014

President Daniel Asquino and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke welcomed peace walkers passing by on their 13th annual Walk for a New Spring.

Monks and peace walkers from the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett paid a visit to MWCC on Feb. 24 at the start of their 13th annual Walk for a New Spring to promote peace.

As in previous years, the Walk for a New Spring came to the college through the invitation of Assistant Professor of Art Tom Matsuda. President Daniel M. Asquino and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke greeted the sojourners in the North Café. They were presented with origami peace cranes, which symbolize hope, peace and an end to war.

The walk, which uses the analogy of spring as a way to illustrate growth, began on Feb. 21 in Leverett, and will continue through 10 states before concluding on April 8 in Washington D.C.

The walk is initiated every year by Nipponzan Myohoji, New England Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist order originating in Japan that builds peace pagodas around the world. The spiritual journey includes meetings with town and city officials, faith communities, fellow peace activists, and visits for vigils and prayers at military bases, prisons and corporations that profit from war.

With talking, drumming and chanting, the group’s intention is to open the way for creating change regarding issues facing the world today including climate change, poverty, the militarization of the planet and space, nuclear proliferation, and the prison industry, Matsuda said.

Mount Wachusett Community College employees raised $66,573 in charitable contributions. Pictured from left, MWCC COMECC chair Connie Helstowski, President Daniel M. Asquino, Phil Grzewinski, President of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and campaign coordinator Nancy Thibodeau.

Mount Wachusett Community College employees set a new record through generous contributions to the 2014 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

Through voluntary one-time donations and payroll deductions, and various on-campus fundraisers, faculty and staff pledged a total of $66,573 to aid those in need. This year’s goal was $60,000.

“I am extremely proud of the MWCC community and the generosity demonstrated during this campaign,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Collectively, the contributions made by MWCC employees will greatly benefit residents in our region and throughout the Commonwealth. There is great need in the community, and this represents a huge investment in making a difference in the lives of others,” 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.


NACA award winner Greg Clement, associate dean of students, with SGA President, state Board of Higher Education member and nominator Kathy Matson.

MWCC Associate Dean of Students Gregory Clement has received the 2014 Frank Harris Outstanding Student Government Advisor Award. Presented by the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), the award recognizes individuals who have the commitment to challenge and advise student government associations.

The annual award honors NACA’s first chair of the Board of Directors, Frank Harris, who advised student government associations throughout his professional tenure until his retirement in 1997.

During the ceremony, held Feb. 17 in Boston, Clement was recognized for going “above and beyond his role as advisor in order to help students succeed. With his charismatic personality and the ability to reach out to students, there has been a significant increase in student government interest” at the college.

“A heartfelt thank you to all the students I have had the opportunity to work with over the past 10 years here at Mount Wachusett Community College,” Clement said. “It is a true gift to be able to be a part of your college and leadership experience.  Thank you to SGA President Kathy Matson, past SGA President Isaac Matson and  Professor Candace Shivers, faculty liaison to the SGA, for nominating me for this prestigious national award and educating a national audience that community colleges across the country produce amazing student leaders. Mount Wachusett Community College is a prime example.”

The award has been presented since 1999, predominantly to staff membes at four-year institutions, including Tulane University, Arizona State University, Colorado State University – Pueblo, University of Delaware, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of South Carolina. Clement is one of two recipients representing community colleges.

The recipient is selected by a committee and must meet the following criteria: works closely with student governments; displays genuine support and regard for students and their issues; viewed by his/her colleagues as an educator; possesses an extraordinary impact on student lives and has earned their respect; and is currently employed for at least nine months as an advisor to a student government association at an NACA member institution. The nomination also required a letter of support from the Student Government Association, a former student, and a staff member.

Established in 1960 to help increase the buying power of campus programming dollars, NACA now has more than 950 college and university members and over 500 associate members who represent artists, lecturers and performers. The organization offers a wide variety of events, educational institutes, publications and networking opportunities for colleges and universities across the country. The association’s programs focus on program planning, risk management, multicultural education, concert management, student and professional leadership development, student government and more. Through its website, NACA also provides students and professional staff with a number of online programming and professional development tools. Learn more at

Rob Roy, Color Chart #42

Two exhibits – “American Road,” a collection of prints, paintings and mixed media by Leominster artist Rob Roy and the works of four ceramists from Studio Four Potters, a cooperative studio and gallery in Gardner – are on display through March 14 in the East Wing Gallery at Mount Wachusett Community College.

An artists’ reception will take place Sunday, March 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the gallery. In addition, Roy will present a talk on his work on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 12:30 p.m., also in the gallery. The events are free and open to the public.

Roy, a professor of painting, printmaking and drawing at the Montserrate College of Art since 1988, past chair of the college’s painting department, and former adjunct instructor at MWCC, has artwork in many public and private collections. Several of the pieces in this exhibit are from his “Witness” series, which explores the imagery of war and American culture.

He has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and in Massachusetts at the Rose Art Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Danforth Museum of Art, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Berkshire Museum, the Worcester Art Museum and the Fitchburg Art Museum. He earned his M.F.A. from Yale University, School of Art and Architecture, and his B.F.A. from UMass, Amherst.

In the gallery’s glass cases, the pottery of John C. Bennard, Steven Landry, Fe Fandreyer and Marion Lyon are also on display.

Studio Four Potters

Fe and Lyon look to nature and use the potter’s wheel to create unique work. Fandreyer works with beautiful, classic forms created using the potter’s wheel. The work is accented with motifs of horses, flowers, or butterflies that are sculpted or stamped onto the pieces.

Lyon also works from the wheel but combines hand-building elements, carving and/or stamping into surfaces. Hosta plant leaves or ivy are used to emboss or create a relief surface on platters and plates. She is drawn to an asymmetrical edge and then, like a canvas, she decorates or narrates a tale with images of birds, flowers and nature.

Landry focuses on creating functional pieces using a range of surfaces and firing methods. The shiny mottled orange and smoky black pieces on display have been created by pit-firing work that has been burnished with a fine slip called terra sigillata. Landry’s other pieces are fired with a Temmoku glaze and have been made on the potter’s wheel. The symmetrical vase, with the marble-like surface, was made by wedging colored stains into a ball of clay that was then thrown on the potter’s wheel.

Bennard’s inventive pieces are created by pattern making slabs of clay, cutting and joining them. In his words, “the work is inspired by nature as observed on walks along the seashore of Prince Edward Island.”

MWCC students Kyle Johnson and Heather Rick, with Diversity Committee member Carla Morrissey, left, and committee chair Carol Cullins, right. Not pictured: Tamara Harmon.

MWCC students Kyle Johnson, Heather Rick and Tamara Harmon are the winners of the second annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course.

Rick, a paralegal studies major, was selected for her essay, Chair City, which reflected on her experience of class in Gardner. Her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in a dozen literary journals and she is currently working on a novel.

“Much of my work explores issues of class, particularly as it intersects with racial and sexual identity and the deconstruction of privilege. As someone who identifies as a working-class artist and has had to struggle to afford an education, I would like to work to provide underprivileged youth with access to arts education,” she said.

Johnson and Harmon, both art majors, were selected for artwork depicting diversity. Harmon created a sculpture of a human hand covered with images of world flags and a variety of faces. Johnson’s abstract painting features images of people, the tree of life, and panels depicting challenges and trimphs throughout the journey of life.

The competitive award provides a certificate and funding for a three credit course. The scholastic competition allowed 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.


Mount Wachusett Community College has received a bronze Excellence Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), District 1 in the Year-Long Special Events category for the multi-faceted 50th Anniversary celebration throughout 2013.

The award was presented to the college during the District 1 awards celebration on January 29 in Boston.

MWCC celebrated its golden anniversary with a series of special events, publications and marketing collateral geared toward the college community, alumni, benefactors and the general public. Events included concerts, a Free College Day for the public, art exhibitions, theatre productions and a Harvest Ball fundraiser for scholarships. Advertising, publicity, social media, photography and graphic design projects, a 50th anniversary website and commemorative publications were among the communications components used to tell the story of MWCC’s past, present and future.

CASE is an international professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education.

Each year, CASE District 1 bestows its Excellence Awards on individuals and schools doing innovative work in the subfields of special events, fundraising, stewardship, volunteer engagement, alumni relations, student alumni initiatives, advancement services and communications.

President Asquino joined other cast members for Survivor, the Musical, which raised more than $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Survivor, The Musical, a fundraiser featuring prominent local figures as cast members, raised more than $50,000 for Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Deb Lapointe of HealthAlliance Hospital was named the “sole survivor” after defeating other contestants during the Jan. 17 Theatre at the Mount production. Singing, dancing, acting, puzzles and trivia were all part of the competition.

Assigned to the tribes “Rodgers” and “Hammerstein,” the contestants tried to “out sing, out perform and out shine” the competition.  Other members of the cast included Jim Adams, President Daniel Asquino, Nick Capasso, Dawn Casavant, Suzanne Farias, Tony Mercadante, Kelli Rooney, Doug Peterson, Lisa Lastella, Donata Martin, Bill Aubuchon, Jane Flanagan, Deb Mercadante, Tina Sbrega, Chris Hendry, Greg Clement and Joan Moran.

The event has gained the support of numerous area businesses and organizations that have signed on as sponsors. In addition to MWCC, Diamond Sponsors include Aubuchon Hardware and Dunkin’ Donuts. Platinum sponsors include Fidelity Bank, Heat Trace Products, Heywood Hospital, IC Federal Credit Union, Rollstone Bank & Trust, and Webster First Federal Credit Union. Gold Sponsors include Bemis Associates, Inc., GFA Federal Credit Union, HealthAlliance Hospital, Justin and Ashleigh Gelinas, Leominster Credit Union, Medical Associates Pediatrics and Workers’ Credit Union. Table sponsors include Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance, Dr. Daniel M. Asquino, Enterprise Bank, Fitchburg State University, Molds International & Consulting Co., Inc., Research Results, Inc., and the Sentinel and Enterprise.

“We’re very grateful to the community for all of the support,” said Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata Martin.

Several club members also attended the event. “The Boys & Girls Club is amazing,” said Grace Kirrane. “We have so much fun there. This show is a great opportunity for the Boys and Girls Club, and we would like to thank everyone.”

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. In August 2008, the organization consolidated its Fitchburg and Leominster clubhouses to a location just off Route 2 on the Fitchburg-Leominster line. The new, state-of-the art club is located in a former private school on eight acres adjacent to the Doyle Conservation Center operated by The Trustees of Reservations and features numerous classrooms, meeting places, a full gymnasium, a teen center and plenty of outdoor play and study areas.

Pictured at the January 15 alumni professional development workshop: Alumni Association board members, from left, Karl Hakkarainen, Conni Brown, Mark Geoffroy, and President Daniel M. Asquino.

The MWCC Alumni Relations office kicked off the new Alumni Association Professional Development Series with an interactive networking workshop on January 15. The event featured Debbie Lefevbre, a certified business life coach for professionals who presented, “How to Truly Connect with Others to Enhance Your Career.”  The workshop focused on the principles of effective communication.  The event, held in the Fidelity Bank Corporate Center’s Community Room in Leominster, was sponsored in part by Fidelity Bank.

President Daniel M. Asquino welcomed participants and shared his enthusiasm and support for the college’s new alumni programming.  “Our alumni are a very important part of our college community. The college is proud to offer this increased investment in our alumni through professional development programming, social events and other initiatives,” he said.

Additional professional development workshops will be offered in partnership with the college’s Human Resources Department on March 25 and April 22. Both workshops are free will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the Gardner campus and will focus on developing leadership abilities and customer service skills. Registration information will be available in the monthly Alumni eNews, on the alumni web page and will be posted on the Alumni Association’s Facebook and Linked In pages.  In addition, a social event, “MWCC Night at the Worcester Sharks” is planned for April 11.

For more information on alumni programming or how you can join the MWCC Alumni Association, contact Carol Jacobson in the Alumni Relations Office at 978-630-9306 or



Massachusetts officials paid a recent visit to MWCC’s Veterans Success Center. Pictured, from left, Stephen Bassett, outreach coordinator, Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center and an MWCC alumnus; Michelle Saunders, Chief Operating Officer, Veteran Homestead, Inc. and the Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center; pre-engineering student Jeff Young; business administration student Nick Bonfilio; Kristine Larkin, Director of Veteran Services; Bryan Sanderson, human services student; Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone; Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee; President Daniel M. Asquino; Kelli Bator, allied health student; Gabriel Nutter, Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services SAVE Team; Sarah Savoie, veterans certifying official; and NEADS assistance dog Sammy.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone and Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee paid a visit to MWCC on January 15 to discuss the college’s thriving Veterans Success Center and how to replicate it at public colleges and universities throughout the state.

The two officials met with President Daniel M. Asquino, MWCC Veteran Services Director Kristine Larkin, student veterans, community partners and others, and praised  the center as an exemplary model to assist veterans transitioning to college.

“We came out here very purpose-oriented,” Secretary Malone said. “We are looking at the Veterans Success Center and talking about key characteristics that must be in place in order to provide these types of services. What we are looking at is replication across the Commonwealth. We want to see a bunker on every campus, based on what we’re seeing here. We’re very interested in putting together a set of recommendations based on best practices, and Mount Wachusett is, in my opinion, is the best in this work in the Commonwealth.”

In 2010, MWCC was one of 15 colleges in the country selected to establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Serving as national models, the centers were created to help ease the transition to college life for veterans and their families, as well as to provide ongoing support for current active members of the military and their families. The center addresses the unique academic, financial, physical and social needs of veterans transitioning to college.

The three-year, $400,000 grant ended last fall, and MWCC has now fully incorporated the center into its campus operations. While MWCC has a long history of serving veterans, the new success center has become a hub of activity on campus and an integral part of the college’s culture, President Asquino said.

Secretary Nee noted that Massachusetts leads the nation in terms of providing veteran services on the federal, state, community and nonprofit levels. Yet the challenge remains in helping veterans and service members navigate that “very complex” benefits field.

Peer support and mentoring is a key component of the veterans center’s success, as well as the college’s recognition of veterans as an important population, he said. Veterans “add to a rich academic environment and they contribute to the college in ways that are highly beneficial, not just to fellow vets but to the entire student body and the faculty.”

Secretary Malone praised the college as “one of the most innovative public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth. In addition to its successful veterans center, the college is recognized for its groundbreaking endeavors in the areas of early college high school, access and transition programs for K-12 students; green energy, and advanced manufacturing, he said.

Mount Wachusett is “one of the most innovative public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth,” Malone said, noting the college’s early college high school, gateway programs, advanced manufacturing partnerships with industry and sustainable energy initiatives.

“You think about cool stuff happening in education, it’s happening at Mount Wachusett Community College. The goal always at Mount Wachusett is closing gaps and increasing opportunities. That’s what they do well. And it’s a unique part of the state. North Central Massachusetts has a great sense of collaboration, purpose and partnerships.”


The Practical Nursing Class of 2013

Friends, relatives and members of the college community gathered December 16 to welcome 36 graduates of MWCC’s Practical Nursing program into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony in the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center Theatre.

President Daniel Asquino provided a welcome message and congratulations from the college.

“This is an evening of celebration. We all know it wasn’t easy, but you are here and we are all proud of you. You have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and in the lives of all those in our community.”

Associate Professor Kathleen Panagiotes delivered the keynote address, noting the students’ growth and progress throughout the rigorous, one-year program and providing encouraging words as they embark on their new careers as healthcare providers.

“Nurses are healers, they always have been. Some know how, and some learn how. But each in their own way, in their own practice, will develop an intuition, and that coupled with ever increasing ability and understanding will lead them to assisting the patient to wellness through caring and science,” Panagiotes said.

“In nursing, you certainly will be part of the team treating the person’s body and mind, and keeping the human spirit of both the patients and significant others hopeful and optimistic. You will be privy to their private joys and sorrows. And to the moments when the struggle seems to be so tiring, so weary, you the nurse will come along with a kind word, a smile, and set about to work together with the physician and the team to heal that patient’s world. As you leave here tonight, and as you begin to find your way in the world of nursing, your actions will demonstrate to all who are willing to see, that we are one humanity, that we have some invisible process that binds us together.”

Graduates Kayla Hamel and Jennifer Zylinski light a three-wick candle, a tradition representing home, compassion and courage.

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. The pin symbolizes the medal of excellence Florence Nightingale presented to the women who nursed the wounded soldiers of the Crimean War.

Pinning committee member Fiaza Qureshi spoke on the long-standing tradition of pinning ceremonies and the significance of the custom. “This is the moment when we let go of the hands of our teachers, to hold the hands of our patients.”

The ceremony also included the traditional recitation of the Florence Nightingale Pledge and lighting of a candle as a symbol of the care and devotion nurses administer to the ill and injured.

Class representative and pinning committee member Aileecia Geary and Rachel Maguy, also a member of the pinning committee, delivered student addresses. Maria Chafoya, Kayla Hamel and Jennifer Zylinski led the traditional candle lighting, which dates back to Florence Nightingale and symbolizes the care and devotion nurses administer to the ill and injured, and Emily Turner led the class in reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge.