Community Stories

MWCC Leadership Academy 2015 backpack drive

Community service during the 11th annual Summer Leadership Academy included an outpouring of donations for school children in foster care. Volunteers filled 123 packpacks with school supplies.

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.”

 

MWCC Beam signing ceremony group photo

State, local and college officials joined in Mount Wachusett Community College’s beam signing ceremony, signifying the completion of the structural frame of the college’s new science, technology, engineering and math building, slated to open in 2016. Attendees included President Daniel M. Asquino, retired state Sen. Stephen Brewer, Senator Anne Gobi, State Representative Stephen DiNatale, State Representative Susannah Whipps Lee, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke and MWCC Foundation board member Jim Garrison.

Poised with pens in Mount Wachusett Community College’s school colors of blue and green, state elected officials joined college and community leaders, trustees, foundation board members, students and contractors on Tuesday, Aug. 11 to mark a milestone in the construction of MWCC’s new 44,000-square-foot science and technology building.

This centuries-old tradition of signing the steel beam that “tops off” a building signifies the completion of the structural phase of a construction project. Dozens packed in to MWCC’s North Café to permanently add their signatures to the 10-foot beam, which will be the final and uppermost beam secured to the building frame next week.

“Thank you all for being here on this historic occasion,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “This is another step forward in the modernization of our campus and a brand new STEM building ready for occupancy a year from now.”

State Senator Anne Gobi, representing MWCC’s Senate delegation, described the new building as an “investment in education and an investment in the future” of the North Central Massachusetts region. “This community college has been a true building block for scores and scores of students,” Gobi said.

Retired Senator Stephen M. Brewer, who was instrumental in securing funding for the $41 million project that also includes renovations to the 40-year-old campus, also shared inspiring remarks during the event. Throughout the commonwealth, public schools, colleges and universities are undergoing expansions and renovations to meet the needs of 21st century students, invigorating the campuses and presenting students with greater opportunities to achieve their academic goals, he said.

“Everything that we do should be about the next generations, and that will happen here.”

State Representative Stephen DiNatale and State Representative Susannah Whipps Lee, an MWCC alumna, congratulated the college on behalf of the House delegation that represents the college’s service region. “These investments, these kinds of endeavors mean jobs. Education means jobs,” DiNatale said.

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, a member of the college’s Board of Trustees and also an alumnus, spoke of the economic significance of the college and the new construction project to the city and region. “We’re ecstatic that this is coming to fruition.”

Lea Ann Scales, MWCC Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships, served as emcee. When the building opens in 2016, it will include state-of-the-art labs and other amenities to enhance the education of all MWCC students, she said.

The building is designed to meet LEED gold certification to tie in with the college’s existing sustainability initiatives. The project is being administered by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance. Shawmut Design & Construction serves as construction manager.

ubms student speakers Murdock

Rachel Dickens, Sean Sutton, Zach Mallette and Jocelyn Cormier of Murdock High School were the student speakers during the UBMS year-end celebration.

When 2015 high school graduate Rachel Dickens heads off to Northeastern University this fall, she’ll bring everything she needs for her dorm room, along with first-hand experience with college life, solid study skills and a free semester’s worth of academic credits that will transfer toward her bachelor’s degree.

The Murdock Middle/High School graduate has just completed her fourth year in Upward Bound Math and Science, a year-round federal TRIO program administered by Mount Wachusett Community College for Gardner, Athol and Winchendon students.

More than 50 high school students participated in the program’s six-week residential component, which took place this summer at Fitchburg State University and included academic courses, extracurricular activities, career exploration and field trips.

The students were recognized for their academic success during an inspring awards ceremony on Aug. 6. Dickens was joined by fellow Murdock graduate Jocelyn Cormier and rising Murdock seniors Sean Sutton and Zach Mallette as the event’s featured student speakers. This fall, Cormier plans to study video game design at Fitchburg State, while Sutton and Mallette plan to serve the country in the military after graduating from high school in 2016.

“UBMS is really an incredible opportunity. It prepares you for the future,” said Dickens, who earned 12 college credits through MWCC’s dual enrollment course offerings while in high school.

The UBMS program is offered to students who have an aptitude for math and science and are in grades 9 through 12 at Gardner High School, Athol High School and Murdock Middle/Senior High School in Winchendon. Two-thirds of the students are from low income or first-generation college families and have an identified need for services. The supervised residential component acquaints students with campus life while providing an opportunity to grow academically, socially and culturally, said Angele Goss, Director of MWCC’s UBMS and North Central Mass Talent Search programs.

This summer, rising juniors, seniors and recent high school graduates took college courses in statistics, English and communications, while freshmen and sophomores participated in pre-college courses in science, math and foreign language. All of the students attended workshops on leadership and careers, took part in a variety of recreational and educational programs, went on field trips to colleges, universities and museums, and participated in a family fun night.

“Mount Wachusett Community College has been helping people find access to higher education for over 50 years,” Lea Ann Scales, Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnership, explained to the students and their families during the ceremony. “We appreciate your participation, we’re excited about your future, and we’re delighted you have had a great summer.”

ubms 4

UBMS and MWCC alumnus CJ Husselbee, third from left, who plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating this fall from UMass, Amherst, thanked Access & Division leaders for their support and encouragement over the years. Pictured with CJ, from left, prior student activities officer Ralph Hogan, Vice President Lea Ann Scales, student activities officer Kyle LaTulippe, UBMS Director Angele Goss and Patrice Lincoln, Dean, Access & Transition.

Winchendon resident Charles “CJ” Husselbee, a graduate of the UBMS program, an alumnus of MWCC and a soon-to-be graduate of UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, shared his experiences over the past six years with the program, beginning as a student participant and continuing through this summer as a senior staff member. After graduating from UMass this December, he plans to enter the Peace Corps. Husselbee thanked the leadership and staff of MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition for their support and encouragement over the years, and described the characteristics that set UBMS students apart from others: leadership, resilience, ability to be open-minded, independence and motivation.“Take every opportunity provided to you from this program and make the most of it,” he said.

MWCC’s North Central Massachusetts Upward Bound Math and Science program began in 2008 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2012, the college received a five-year, $1.3 million grant to continue funding the program. Now completing its eighth year at the college, UBMS prepares high school students for success in high school and college in the fields of math and science.

For more information about the UBMS program, click here.

Tom Berger MWCC Student Trustee

Tom Berger, right, a business administration major at Mount Wachusett Community College, is welcomed to the board by MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, center, and Trustee Amanda Landry during a swearing-in ceremony on Aug. 6.

Thomas Berger, a business administration major at Mount Wachusett Community College and a veteran of the U.S. Army, has been appointed student trustee on the college’s Board of Trustees for the upcoming academic year.

The Winchendon resident was elected by his peers to the one-year position during the spring semester and was sworn in on Aug. 6 during a brief ceremony at the college. As student trustee, he serves as a full voting member on the 11-member board.

“We welcome Tom to the Board of Trustees and look forward to his service, insight and dedication,” said board Chair Tina M. Sbrega.

“Tom is highly engaged on campus and in the community, and is a strong advocate for his fellow students,” said President Daniel M. Asquino.

Berger said he is looking forward to serving on the board and being a voice for all MWCC students.

“I thank my family, friends and the faculty and staff at Mount Wachusett for being there for me over the past year and a half of my college experience,” Berger said. “Their support has made a tremendous difference. I enrolled at the Mount to earn a college degree and have gained so much more.”

An active campus leader, Berger has served this past year on the Student Government Association and is a graduate of MWCC’s Leadership for Life program. He currently serves as vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, as a peer mentor with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program, and as a member of the Veterans Group, a student club affiliated with the Student Veterans of America. As a first-generation college student, he is also a member of MWCC’s Visions Program, a TRIO student support services program.

This coming year, Berger will serve as vice president of the state-wide Student Advisory Council, an organization that represents all 29 public colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

He has participated in many charitable endeavors including the United Way Day of Caring, the Student Emergency Fund, Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts, and the SGA Thanksgiving food drive. Earlier this year, he launched a Laptops for Veterans fundraising initiative to purchase new computers for the college’s Veterans Success Center for use by student veterans.

After graduating in May 2016, he plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business management. Raised in a family with a history of military service, Berger served in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1998 and was stationed for much of that time in South Korea and Germany.

 

Summer UP participants at Jackson Playground in Gardner presented a thank you banner to President Daniel Asquino and Mayor Mark Hawke for their continued support of the program.

Summer UP participants at Jackson Playground in Gardner presented a thank you banner to President Daniel Asquino and Mayor Mark Hawke for their continued support of the program.

Over a decade ago, Mount Wachusett Community College’s Summer UP program began to provide safe, summertime activities and employment opportunities to area youth. Since then, thousands of children and teenagers in area cities have benefited from the program.

Now completing its 11th season, Summer Up is a college/community partnership in Gardner, Fitchburg, and Leominster administrated by MWCC’s Division of Access and Transitions.

Recently, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino joined Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke and Business Administrator for the Gardner Public Schools Chris Casavant at the Jackson Playground site to meet participants and celebrate the program’s success.

“Summer UP is a great program,” said President Asquino. “The best part of the program is it’s not just recreation. The older kids get to develop leadership skills and earn money.”

Mayor Hawke spent a portion of the visit playing basketball with the children. “Every year it’s bigger and better, especially with the new playground and the mural created by the Mount students. I haven’t seen this many kids down here in years, and it’s why we partner with the Mount,” he said.

Mr. Casavant said the program fills a huge need in the community. “We are constantly looking for ways to keep students engaged during the summer months. This is a fantastic opportunity for these kids.”

The sites this year include Jackson Playground and Olde English Village in Gardner, Coolidge Park, Parkhill Park, and Lowe Park in Fitchburg, and Allencrest Community Center in Leominster, which is combined with the Spanish American Center.

Each Summer UP site is staffed by two to three adult supervisors, five to six high school students, and eight middle school students. This year more than 90 student workers, approximately a dozen adult supervisors and several hundred elementary school students are participating at the park sites, said Christina Gonzalez, Community Partnership Manager for MWCC’s division of Access and Transition, who is in her second year overseeing Summer UP.

Middle and high school students complete 20 hours of training through the Commonwealth Corps’ Signal to Success Program, which teaches communication, leadership and employment skills, while younger children enhance social skills though day-to-day interaction in the group setting. On Fridays, the youth workers participate in educational field trips.

Monique Barbosa, who will enter Gardner High School this year as an eighth grader, began attending Summer UP since she was 7, and is now one of the program’s youth workers. X-zavior Ducos, who will be entering the ninth grade this fall, is in his second year as a youth worker. “It’s great. What’s not to like about it?” Ducos said. “You get to play with the kids and go on field trips. The training was fun, too.”

- Katherine Best

Lisa Burns Evening of Excellence 2015

Honors student and MWCC graduate Lisa Burns, a Visions Program participant, will continue her studies this fall at Mount Holyoke College.

Mount Wachusett Community College has been awarded two five-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education totaling $2.99 million to continue support programs that help low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities succeed in college.The grant awards will be used to continue the college’s successful TRIO Student Support Services programs. The goal of each program is to improve student outcomes in the areas of retention, graduation and transfer to four-year institutions to earn a bachelor’s degree.

MWCC will receive $1.1 million over the next five years – $220,000 per year – to support the Student Support Services STEM Health Sciences program, known on campus as the Rx Program. Comprehensive services will be provided to 120 students annually who are majoring in health sciences programs including nursing, practical nursing, dental hygiene, dental assisting, physical therapist assistant, complementary health care, medical laboratory technology, medical assisting, medical office, biotechnology-bio manufacturing, fitness leadership and exercise science, and general studies allied health. Program participants receive wrap-around support services that include tutoring; academic advising; career, personal and transfer counseling; supplemental courses; financial aid advising and workshops; and financial and economic literacy education.

MWCC’s Student Support Services TRIO program, known on campus as the Visions Program, will receive $378,485 a year over a five-year span, for a total of $1,892,425 million. Now entering its 37th year as an educational opportunity TRIO program at MWCC, Visions serves eligible students enrolled in any non-health services major. The program provides a variety of comprehensive services to 200 students each year, including academic advising, personal, career and transfer counseling, tutoring, seminars, financial aid advising and workshops, financial literacy education, a faculty and peer mentoring program and supplemental courses.

“We are delighted to receive these two, highly competitive TRIO grants to continue programs that provide students with the tools and skills they need to succeed in college and earn a degree,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “These awards are a testament to the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty and staff and to the perseverance of our students. We our most grateful to our federal legislative delegation for their ongoing support of these programs and commitment to our students and the economic health of our region,” he said.

“Mount Wachusett Community College is committed to providing academic support and resources to students who need it the most,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “These federal TRIO grants will go a long way toward helping MWCC continue its extraordinary efforts to help every student succeed.  MWCC deserves congratulations for all it is doing.”

“We need to prepare all of our students to compete in the 21st century innovation economy, and these TRIO grants will ensure Mount Wachusett Community College continues to prepare low-income and first generation students with the skills of tomorrow,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “I congratulate Mount Wachusett Community College for securing this funding and for its commitment to helping students of all backgrounds and abilities achieve their dreams.

“Mount Wachusett received these funds after a rigorous grant process, which speaks to both the quality of their application and the school in general,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “They exemplify the growing trend of Third District institutions becoming academic leaders in the Commonwealth. I commend this fine institution and look forward to seeing the far-reaching benefits take hold.”

Using federal funds to partner with local institutions to address the needs of the region is a key tool in ensuring all people have the opportunity to pursue higher education, she said. “The significant return on these investments will have ongoing reverberations for many years to come, as more students are encouraged and able to complete their college careers and enter the workforce with the skills necessary to succeed.”

“With these TRIO awards, Mount Wachusett Community College will be able to continue to provide their students with a great education and prepare them for good careers,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “TRIO has a strong tradition of helping low-income, first generation college students succeed. These awards will directly help students complete their education and pursue good careers in STEM health science fields and many other fields that support our communities, including education, business, human services and public service. Mount Wachusett Community College is a strong partner for North Central Massachusetts and I look forward to continuing to work with them to open new doors of opportunity and grow our local economy.”

News of the federal grants was well received by students and alumni who have participated in the TRIO programs at MWCC.

“Without the Visions Program, I would not have been successful,” said Lisa Burns, a single mother who enrolled at MWCC in 2012 to pursue a new career after a back injury prevented her from continuing her long-standing job as a pharmacy technician. Though initially hesitant to enroll, Burns became a member of the Honors Program, the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society at MWCC. In May, she became the first in her family to graduate from college when she earned an associate degree in Business Administration. In September, she will transfer to prestigious Mount Holyoke College on a full scholarship through the Frances Perkins Tuition Scholarship program to pursue her bachelor’s degree.

“When you don’t have support on the outside, the support on campus is even more important – to have people telling you that you can do it,” she said.

 

DOL grants Press Conference Group

Celebrating new workforce training programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, from left, Jackie Belrose, MWCC Vice President of Life Long Learning & Workforce Development; Melissa Ahola; District Director for Senator Jen Flanagan; Martha Chiarchiaro, Vice President of Human Resources, Clinton Hospital; Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong; State Representative Jennifer Benson; Congresswoman Niki Tsongas; Congressman James McGovern; Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Tim Sappington, Executive Director, North Central MA Workforce Investment Board; Theresa Kane, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Polus Center and Social Economic Development; Jeff Turgeon, Executive Director, Central MA Workforce Investment Board; Susan Templeton, District Director; and Kaitlynn Bilodeau Legislative Aide for Representative Jonathan Zlotnik.

Congressman James McGovern and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas visited the North Central Chamber of Commerce on July 21 to announce new federal grants to support workforce training programs in North Central and Central Massachusetts. Mount Wachusett Community College is a key partner in the grant programs as a provider of training programs.

“Investing in strong workforce training programs is key to helping our local economy and community thrive,” Congressman McGovern said.

“I’m proud to join Congresswoman Tsongas and all of our local leaders to celebrate this new funding and the opportunities it will create for our local manufacturing companies and workforce, especially people with disabilities. This partnership will open new doors to members of our community who have the skills to succeed and are eager to work. I am grateful to the U.S. Department of Labor for being a strong partner and investing in our community.”

The North Central and Central Massachusetts Workforce Boards will receive $534,154 for a Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant as part of the state’s $3.2 million dollar grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor. The boards will partner on the training with Mount Wachusett Community College and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP). MWCC will offer its new Industrial Readiness and Quality Control trainings and MassMEP will offer its CNC (computer numerical control) operator training. The goal of the two-year grant is to train 80 eligible unemployed individuals in advanced manufacturing skills to meet the local industry demand.

The North Central and Central Mass Workforce Boards also recently received $1,140,000 in Disability Employment Initiative grants from the DOL. The grants will provide training funds and support for eligible individuals with disabilities interested in full-time employment. The North Central Workforce Board received $640,000 and will be offering training in healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and finance for this three-year project. The Central Mass Workforce Board received $500,000 for its initiative and will offer training for career pathways in human services, healthcare, and customer service.

The Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant will allow both regions to provide a skilled workforce for local manufacturing companies that meets local demand, and the Disability Employment Initiative grants will allow the boards to provide enhanced services to people with disabilities under the new Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act. The grants also connect employers to this untapped talent source of qualified, skilled individuals who happen to have a disability, said Workforce Board Directors Tim Sappington and Jeff Turgeon.

TAM Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

A scene from Theatre at the Mount’s production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of several productions nominated for DASH Awards this year by the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres.

The Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres (EMACT) recently announced the nominees for the 2014 – 2015 “DASH” Awards (Distinguished Achievement and Special Honors). Of the 118 productions entered in the competition, Theatre at the Mount received nominations in 20 categories including:

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Best Production of a Musical

Best Ensemble for a Musical

Best Director of a Musical – Chris Casello

Best Costumes for a Musical – Caitlin Spain

Best Lighting Design for a Musical – Doug Darrigo

Best Sound Design for a Musical – Devin Vaillancourt

Best Set Design for a Musical – Chris Casello

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical – Shani Farrell

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

Best Production of a Musical

Best Director of a Musical – Rob Houle

Best Choreography – Alison Laverdiere

Best Stage Management – Gail Allen

Best Costumes for a Musical – Julia Whalen

25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE

Best Ensemble for a Musical

Best Musical Direction – Joanne Landry

Best Choreography – Rob Houle

Best Actress in a Musical – Lynne Dumais

Best Actor in a Musical – Doug Dame

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical – Kyle Carlson

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE, JR.

Best Youth Actor in a Musical – Bryan Landgren

Winners will be announced at the DASH Gala on Saturday, August 29 at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown. A complete list of the nominees can be found at www.emact.org

 

Three Murdock High School seniors are earning MWCC academic certificates through the Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech Scholarship program. Pictured, from left, Andrew Phelps, Amber Dignan, Melanie Cranfill, and CVTE Transition Counselor and student advisor Shaunti Phillips.

Four Murdock High School seniors earned MWCC academic certificates through the Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech Scholarship program during the past academic year. Pictured, from left, Andrew Phelps, Amber Dignan, Melanie Cranfill, and CVTE Transition Counselor and student advisor Shaunti Phillips. Missing from photo: Samantha Strong

A career-oriented dual enrollment program that allows high school seniors from Winchendon to simultaneously earn their diploma and an academic certificate while enrolled full time at Mount Wachusett Community College, is among three early college partnerships lauded in a newly released report from the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy.

The Rennie Center policy brief, Early College Designs: Achieving College- and Career-Readiness for all Massachusetts Students, explores successful early college models as part of the center’s Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity series. The Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship program, a one-year, full-time dual enrollment program for seniors at Murdock Middle/High School, prepares students for a variety of careers including information technology, allied health, auto technology, cybersecurity, accounting, bookkeeping, analytical laboratory and quality systems, and small business management.

The program was established in 2012 through a grant from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation to assist low-income, first-generation college students, and accepts up to six students each year. By the end of a full academic year attending college courses, the students earn credentials to enter the workforce and complete the first year toward an associate or bachelor’s degree. Students are provided with scholarships from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation to cover the costs of the college courses.

The programs highlighted in the policy brief “demonstrate that early college offers an innovative – and viable – solution to persistent problems of college access and persistence,” Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director of the Rennie Center, notes in a letter announcing the new policy brief.  “By allowing participants to accumulate college credits and complete foundational courses before leaving high school, early college helps put students on a trajectory toward degree attainment.”

In its brief, the Rennie Center notes the MWCC-Murdock partnership includes a variety of support services for students, including weekly meetings with an advisor, and three hours each week of professional tutoring and peer tutoring. In addition, students retain their connection with their guidance counselor at Murdock.

The program, which begins its fifth year this fall, is an innovative partnership between the college, the Winchendon school system and the private community foundation, said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are most grateful for the continued support of the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation. This program not only helps student achieve their goal of obtaining a college education without accruing tremendous loan debt, but ultimately supports the region’s economy by preparing young people with skills they can directly apply in the workforce.”

“The dual-enrollment program allows Murdock students an amazing opportunity to earn college credits for free,” said Principal Joshua Romano. “Any advantage our students can get to become competitive with students from other schools just helps more of our students succeed in college and beyond.”

Being in the Robinson-Broadhurst dual-enrollment program was “a life-changing experience,” said Dakota Wood, a 2014 graduate who went on to earn an associate degree from MWCC in allied health in anticipation of continuing on for a degree in nursing. “I graduated high school with a free year of college under my belt. It’s absolutely the best thing I could have done.” Wood said the flexible schedule allowed him to still participate in high school activities, including music classes, band, chorus and theater productions.

In addition to the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program, also cited in the policy brief, Mount Wachusett offers two other signature dual enrollment programs open to Massachusetts students, The Pathways Early College Innovation School and the Gateway to College program, in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District.

An early college program between Amesbury High School and Northern Essex Community College, and a dual enrollment program between Marlborough High School and Framingham State University, were also highlighted by the Rennie Center’s policy brief.

The Rennie Center was launched in 2002 by then-Secretary of Education Paul Reville as a division of the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC). In 2005, the Cambridge-based center became an independent non-profit organization committed to addressing the critical challenges of reforming education in Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.renniecenter.org.

Linda Coyne

The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts supports MWCC student scholarships.

The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts has awarded a $67,000 grant to the MWCC Foundation to support student scholarships. To qualify for a scholarship, students must live in North Central Massachusetts, demonstrate financial need, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Award amounts will vary.

“We are very grateful to the Community Foundation for this award and for its ongoing support for students as they pursue their academic and career goals,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “The vast majority of our students remain in the area after graduating to live and work, so this funding ultimately helps strengthen our local communities and enhance the economic vitality of our region.”

The foundation announced 30 new grants totaling nearly $500,000 from its general endowment funds and field of interest funds during an event June 11 at Apple Hill Farm. The grant to support student scholarships at MWCC comes from the Community Foundation’s Educational Access Fund.

The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts is a nonprofit, community, corporation created by and for the people of greater North Central Massachusetts. The Community Foundation General Endowment Education Access Fund supports community development, environment, animal welfare, arts and culture, as well as health and human services. Since its inception, the Community Foundation has awarded over $40 million in grants and distributions from 160 funds that have been established by individuals, families and organizations.