Campus Life

LEAN Green Belt MWCCHenry David Thoreau’s 160-year-old directive “Simplify, Simplify” is finding renewed meaning in today’s workplace. At Mount Wachusett Community College, seventeen employees recently received Lean Green Belt Certification to help streamline operations college-wide.

Lean training teaches participants to examine how they do things with an eye toward identifying ways to achieve greater efficiency, eliminate waste and streamline processes for more efficient and cost effective outcomes.

The goal is to build a solid foundation for a culture of continuous improvement, said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This training will prove to be quite valuable for the college and our students.”

MWCC coordinates Lean, Six Sigma and other workforce development programs for area companies, though this was the first time college employees participated. MWCC is the first community college in Massachusetts to adopt Lean college-wide, said Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development.

The training, initially implemented in the manufacturing world, and recently was adapted for administrative purposes, is gaining national momentum among state agencies, colleges and universities, and other organizations. According to the Education Advisory Board, which recently completed a study on implementing Lean for Process Improvement at Community Colleges, higher education administrators are increasingly turning to the principles of Lean Six Sigma to enhance efficiency of institutional processes.

MWCC administrators, faculty and staff participated in the training, which required a project presentation and certification exam. The training and certification was administered by the William George Group, a Boston-based consulting firm that serves clients worldwide. Working individually and in groups, the participants tackled projects designed to improve procedures at the main campus in Gardner and satellite campuses in Leominster and Devens.

“The primary purpose of Lean is to cultivate a climate of continuous improvement in all areas of process management and to eliminate waste,” said Riordon, one of the training participants. “Lean forces you to ask why something is in the process. If there are steps that don’t add value, we’ve got to ask, ‘Why is it in the process?’”

For example, his team tackled the 52-step process of creating a brochure of noncredit course offerings, which starts with selecting courses to writing, editing, proofing and mailing the brochures. “After reviewing the process, we eliminated redundancy and the new process is just 14 steps and frees up one full staff person from the process,” he said.

The projects implemented include streamlining procedures in the human resources, marketing, admissions, records and institutional advancement offices, and improving efficiency of contract approvals, dual enrollment registration and placement testing.

The newly certified Lean Green Belt employees are:

Lea Ann Scales, Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships; Robin Duncan, Senior Advisor to the President; Linda Fazio, Comptroller; Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President, Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development; Heather Mulry, Director, Human Resources; Connie Helstowski, Director, Payroll and Benefits; John Walsh, Dean, Leominster Campus; Patrice Lincoln, Dean, Access & Transition; Margaret Jaillet, Assistant Dean, School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences; Rebecca Forest, Assistant Dean of Records and Research; Sarah McMaster, Director of Marketing and New Media; Ramon Gonzalez, Director, Educational Talent Search; Kerrie Griffin, Director, Devens Campus; Heather Layton, Director, Grants Development; Shane Mullen, Senior System Analyst/Programmer; Michael Watson, Instructor, Manufacturing & Quality Systems; Teresita Encarnacion, Coordinator, Development Training.

 

Women's Herstory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, name, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Women’s HerStory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, Paula Clapp, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Eight MWCC faculty and staff members who play an instrumental role in the lives of our students were recognized during the college’s annual Women’s Appreciation Day on March 26.

For the past several years, students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism I class interview and write feature articles on women who are making a difference in the lives of others. The Women’s HerStory project this year recognized Paula Clapp, math tutor; Ann Reynolds, CCAMPIS advisor; Cynthia Doyle, accountant; Glaisma Silva Perez, coordinator of Disability Services; Catherine Maddox-Wiley, advisor, Rx program; Aliza Miller, math professor; Madhu Sharma, professor, English as a Second Language; and Elizabeth Kilpatrick, professor, anatomy and physiology.

The celebration capped off a month of activities and events in celebration of Women’s History Month and included a performance by singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek.

Juniors Symposium 2015

High school juniors respond to MWCC Dean Jason Zelesky’s presentation during the college’s annual Juniors Symposium.

 

Two hundred area high school juniors were welcomed to Mount Wachusett Community College’s annual Juniors Symposium to gain insight into applying to colleges and universities, seeking financial aid and scholarships and related topics to help them succeed.

One hundred juniors from Narragansett Regional, Fitchburg, Sizer Charter and Athol high schools attended the half-day symposium on March 17, while another 100 students from Gardner, Fitchburg, Murdock and Mahar Regional high schools participated on March 19.

The event is one of 18 college access and readiness programs provided by MWCC’s Division of Access and Transition to approximately 4,000 middle and high school students in the region.

A pep rally, led by MWCC Dean of Students Jason Zelesky as a new feature of the symposium, served to inspire students with positive, relevant messages about the importance of education and pursuing one’s dreams. While a new car will depreciate the minute it is driven from the dealer’s parking lot, a college education will gain in value throughout adulthood by enhancing one’s earning potential, he explained.

“The work you do every day (as students) translates into real dollars. When you purchase an education, every day that degree is worth more. That value continues to increase. You are making an investment in yourself.”

Touching on the theme of applying grit while striving to reach one’s goals, Zelesky shared inspiring stories that spanned a century of national events. When shown photographs from the early 20th century, no one in the audience recognized prestigious millionaire Samuel Langley, who was generously funded and well publicized during his efforts to be first in flight. But they did know who the Wright Brothers were, who despite being poor and unknown, succeeded.

He closed the presentation with a social media activity inviting students to share their dreams on Twitter, using the hashtags #grit and #MWCC. Careers in pediatric nursing, occupational therapy, engineering, teaching and the performing arts were among the many responses.

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Elisabeth Pimentel gets a hug from her daughter, Ashley Covey, after she became one of 250 permanent residents sworn in as new U.S. citizens on Wednesday. Ashley helped out during the ceremony by leading the Pledge of Allegiance. They live in Fitchburg. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / JOHN LOVE

GARDNER — For 250 people, Wednesday marked the first time they were able to call themselves American citizens.

During a naturalization ceremony at Mount Wachusett Community College, 250 permanent residents of Massachusetts were sworn in as citizens of the United States.

Citizenship candidates came to Massachusetts from 62 countries, including Mexico, Haiti, Cambodia, Morocco, Nepal, Germany, Russia and Iraq. Their naturalization ceremony included speeches, patriotic songs, the swearing of an Oath of Allegiance led by United States District Judge Timothy Hillman, and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by the daughter of one new citizen.

All candidates received certificates of citizenship.

Desire Banguendoh, among the 250, said it has been a long journey for him. He grew up in the Central African Republic, but was forced to leave in 2006, after a rebellion led to the killing of thousands of young men like himself. He and his wife and children fled to Chad, where they lived in a refugee camp for five years before a United Nations worker told him he would be eligible to come to the United States as a refugee. His family arrived in the United States on Nov. 4, 2009. They live in Worcester.

All along, Banguendoh said he was “very afraid.”

In Chad, he said, “the soldiers are no good, they play with their weapons and shoot them whenever they want.

Here, I have safety. It’s a good life here.”

He attended the ceremony with his son and his wife, who he said “will maybe become a citizen in a few years.”

Omolara Gilman, of Wilmington, was happy to celebrate that both she and her husband are now U.S. citizens. Her husband grew up in the United States, but Gilman is originally from Nigeria.

“My dad worked for Shell when I was growing up, so I moved around a lot,” she said. “I’ve never stayed in one place as long as I’ve stayed in the US.”

Gilman came to Massachusetts in 2005, when she enrolled at UMass Lowell.

When she started school, Gilman said, “I didn’t really know where I was going to go” after graduation. During college, though, she met her future husband, and decided to stay in the United States.

Sergui Eigelman, of Bolton, said he has lived in the United States since 2000.

He wanted to become a citizen “to participate in democracy,” said Eigelman, originally from the Ukraine.

“Mostly on a local level,” he added, “but on a state and national level, too.”

Mount Wachusett President Daniel Asquino spoke at the ceremony, as did Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

“Personally and professionally, it’s an honor to be a part of this ceremony,” said Asquino.

Hawke said his grandfather was an immigrant to the United States in the 1940s, and he is “eternally grateful” for the opportunities he was provided by being born a citizen.

“I hope you try to give back to your community and your country,” he told candidates.

After they spoke, Hillman administered the Oath of Allegiance to the 250 new citizens.

“You are now citizens of the United States of America,” he said.

Francisco Mateo, from the Dominican Republic and now of Fitchburg, participates in the singing of the national anthem during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner. Two hundred and fifty candidates became citizens of the United States during the event. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE “This nation now belongs to you as much as to those who were born here.”

Hillman advised new citizens to “work hard, live responsibly, and help preserve the opportunities and the freedoms that so many have fought and died to secure.”

Banguendoh, like many immigrants and refugees, is very grateful for the freedom of the United States compared to his former home.

“The discrimination in the C.A.R. is continuing,” he said. “When I call my mom and my dad back home, they say I should never come back. I’ve missed them for 10 years.”

Though it’s difficult to be away from his family, Banguendoh said he loves living in the United States.

“I’m very happy (today),” he said. “I’m so proud, and I say, ‘thank God,’ because it’s not easy here to move step by step and become a citizen.”

His friend and fellow Worcester resident, Augustine Kanjai, came to the United States as a refugee as well, from Sierra Leone. Kanjai was a journalist in his country who was thrown in jail for taking a photo for a story, he said.

“I had to endure a lot,” he said. “I was harassed, I was intimidated, and it was not easy for me.”

Kanjai and his family are not yet citizens, but they were at the naturalization ceremony to celebrate with Banguendoh.

“This is the citizen we’re here for today,” Kanjai said proudly, clapping his friend on the back.

“Next year,” he added, “it will be me.”

By Anna Burgess, aburgess@sentinelandenterprise.com   March 19, 2015

concert studentsWhen the Boston-based band The Wicked Hangin Chads recently took to the MWCC theatre for a free show, they did more than entertain the audience with two hours of reggae fusion and flow art dancing. They provided an opportunity for Media Arts and Technology students to hone their video and audio production skills.

While the band performed its original music in several languages on Saturday, May 14, a crew of students, guided by Professors John Little and Joel Anderson, discretely recorded the event using eight video cameras set at various angles, synchronized to two 48 track audio recorders capturing 35 audio sources. The recording will be edited and released as a half-hour show for cable television and the band’s promotional efforts.

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 device 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 device 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 device 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.