Community Stories

STEM Starter Academy event April 2014

High school students extract DNA from strawberries during a STEM Starter Academy demonstration.

Approximately 250 students from several North Worcester County high schools sampled college life and STEM careers during Mount Wachusett Community College’s STEM Starter Academy event on April 4. The event, coordinated by the divisions of Academic Affairs and Access, Transition & Development, featured a variety of science and health sciences demonstrations, hands-on experiments, and information about financial aid and college readiness, and served as a prelude to MWCC’s STEM Starter Summer Academy.

Mount Wachusett is currently recruiting 30 students to participate in its STEM Starter Summer Academy, which will run July 7 through Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gardner campus. Participating students will receive two free college courses, textbooks, a $1,750 stipend, academic support, tutoring, and community service and industry tours.

Funded through a $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the summer academy is open to students who graduate from high school in 2014 or earlier; place into English Composition and Intermediate Algebra or higher; and enroll in one of MWCC’s STEM starter qualifying majors in the fall 2014 semester.

Qualifying STEM majors include biology, biotechnology, chemistry, clinical laboratory science, computer information systems, dental hygiene, fitness leadership and exercise science, natural resources, nursing, physical therapist assistant, physics or pre-engineering.

Courses offered during the summer academy include intermediate algebra, statistics, introduction to functions and modeling, life science for allied health, introduction to biotechnology, and introduction to psychology.

For more information about the STEM Starter Summer Academy and other STEM programs at MWCC, contact the admissions office at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

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Mount Wachusett Community College is recruiting adults of all ages, experience and education for training in the growing field of advanced manufacturing. Full scholarships are available for eligible students who enroll in an upcoming six-week day program or five-week evening program that will be offered at MWCC’s Devens campus.

Students who successfully complete either program will earn an MWCC Certificate of Completion, OSHA 10-hour Safety Certification and the National Career Readiness Certificate.

The six-week Advanced Manufacturing Industrial Readiness Training will meet Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Classes will begin on April 28, and a second session will be offered beginning on June 9. The course includes hands-on, lecture-based material as well as self-paced KeyTrain curriculum leading to the National Career Readiness Certification.

Information sessions for the day program will take place at MWCC’s Devens campus, 27 Jackson Road, on April 10 and April 15 at 10 a.m.

The five-week, 75-hour Medical Device Manufacturing Program will meet Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. The course will be offered April 22 through May 22, and again from May 27 through June 27.

Information sessions for the evening program will take place at the Devens campus from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 7, April 14 and April 16.

The training programs are designed especially for unemployed or underemployed adults, veterans and recent high school graduates who want to train for careers in medical device manufacturing and related industries. Programs provide students with training in skills required for entry-level employment as technicians in manufacturing, validation, quality control, documentation, process operations and more.

Students must possess a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. Students will have access to staff members who will assist them with the registration process, facilitate access to support services, and help them with their search for employment when they have completed the certificate program successfully. Tutoring and job search support is also available.

Manufacturing accounts for nearly 25 percent of the workforce in North Central Massachusetts, employing more than 14,000 people in the region. The demand for skilled workers continues to grow as a result of new opportunities and the retirement of older workers.

Both programs are funded through the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. The evening program is also funded by a grant to MWCC and Operon Resource Management by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Rapid Response Program.

For more details about the program or to register for an information session, call 978-630-9569.

MWCC student Eric Fisk & Amy Robbin of GFA Credit UnionMore than 30 companies and organizations participated in Job Fair 2014, held at MWCC’s Gardner campus on April 2 and sponsored by the Career Services/Experiential and Service Learning Department. The event provided students with an exciting opportunity to explore career options and learn about job openings in a diverse range of fields.

Coordinator of Career Planning and Placement Patricia Brewerton said she was delighted with the employer support as well as the number of students who benefited from the fair. Close to 300 students and visitors attended.

Given a challenging job market, employers, students and faculty remain optimistic as students continue to land interviews and job offers, Brewerton said.

“The job fair provides an optimistic job outlook for students and it attracts a wide range of companies offering job openings for our students. Some students report having interviews already scheduled for next week. I’ve also heard encouraging and optimistic feedback from employers that our students are enthusiastic, dressed for success, well prepared, and have the courage to approach the tables and introduce themselves,” she said.

There were full-time, part-time, temporary and summer positions available from a variety of employers including Great Wolf, Inc, TD Bank, MassLifeSciences, and UMass Memorial. There were also many human services options including Y.O.U Inc., LUK, and Devereux.

Kevin Hines with MWCC Nursing & Human Services students.

Kevin Hines, seated, with MWCC Nursing & Human Services students following his presentation.

Had someone just smiled and asked if he was okay that September 2000 afternoon in San Francisco, 19-year-old Kevin Hines would not have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. The voices in his head, caused by the brain illness of bipolar disorder prevailed, convincing him that he must die. Mid-air, he prayed he would live. Miraculously, he did.

Hines, one of 33 people to survive a jump off the 220-foot bridge and author of Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt, was the keynote speaker during the second annual Mental Health Awareness Conference, sponsored by The SHINE Initiative, Mount Wachusett Community College and Heywood Healthcare.

The half-day conference, held March 27 at the Colonial Hotel, was attended by more than 300 people, including healthcare professionals, educators and students. A panel presentation focused on the stigma associated with mental illness and its impact on seeking diagnosis and treatment; the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and veterans’ post-war health issues. More than 150 MWCC students majoring in nursing and human services participated in the conference and a suicide prevention training session that followed.

President Daniel M. Asquino, Paul Richard, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, and Dawn Casavant, vice president of external affairs for Heywood Hospital, delivered welcoming remarks, and Human services major, Renee Chandler, shared her award-winning poetry reflecting on living with mental illness. College Counselor Melissa Manzi, MSW, LCSW, and College Health Coordinator Diane Kin, RN, BSN, HNC, led a QPR (question, persuade, refer) suicide prevention training program that focuses on how to assist someone is in distress.

Panelists included Dr. Heather Brenhouse, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience Psychology at Northeastern University; Dr. Stephanie Rodrigues, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Addiction at the UMass Medical School; and Bryan Doe of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs.

Approximately 57 million Americans experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Between 70 to 90 percent of these individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with combined treatment of medication and therapy.

“Ultimately, resources and time are spent on things that are a priority. Let us make certain that mental health awareness, treatment of mental illness and the sensitivity of mental illness are everyone’s priority,” President Asquino said.

Hines’ presentation provided an inside-look at the thought process and actions, as well as the effect on his family. Born to poor, young parents who struggled with mental illnesses and substance abuse, Hines said he and his birth brother would frequently be left alone in seedy hotel rooms. Within a year, they were taken into child protective services, and bounced in and out of several foster homes. Hines’ brother died as a result of neglect and untreated health conditions, while Hines was adopted by loving and supportive parents, Pat and Debbie Hines. In adolescence, what he describes as a “brain disease” began to surface, and at 17, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This imbalance in his brain chemistry resulted in paranoia, mania, horrific hallucinations and grandiose illusions, which he attempted to mask from his family and doctors.

One of the few Golden Gate Bridge jump survivors to regain full mobility, Hines has since shared his story with over 300,000 people to raise awareness about mental illness, treatment, and suicide prevention. He has been featured in the critically acclaimed film “The Bridge,” on Larry King Live, 20/20, Anderson Cooper 360, and Good Morning America, as well as in hundreds of national and international print, radio, film, and television media outlets. A signed copy of his memoir is available at the LaChance Library.

 

Senator Brewer retirement party

Celebrating four decades of public service, from left Ryan McGuane and Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce; Senator Jennifer Flanagan, honoree Senator Stephen Brewer, President Daniel Asquino, Representative Anne Gobi, Representative Jon Zlotnick and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

Dozens of local officials, business leaders and community members recently paid tribute to Sen. Stephen Brewer, honoring the long-serving legislator for four decades of service to the region and to the Commonwealth.

The March 28 farewell party, sponsored by the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce and Mount Wachusett Community College, honored the long-serving legislator for his service to the region and to the Commonwealth on a wide range of issues ranging from veterans services, education, the environment and children’s health and safety.

Following several years of service on the Board of Selectmen in his hometown of Barre, the senator served as aide to former state Sen. Robert Wetmore, before serving as a state representative and state senator. Most recently, he has served as chair of the powerful Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

In retirement, Sen. Brewer said he plans to remain involved in politics, while also taking up a few new hobbies, such as playing the ukulele.

“Senator Brewer has been making sweet music for the residents and citizens of not only North Central Massachusetts, but the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said MWCC President Daniel Asquino, before presenting the senator with a ukulele and encouraging him to sign up for a course at the college.

“He’s just a model, fine human being.”

State Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Rep. Anne Gobi, Worcester County Sheriff and former state Rep. Lewis Evangelidis and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke also shared memories and accolades for the public official who has served as a model and mentor.

“My career has been blessed. Blessed beyond belief,” Sen. Brewer said. My friends, in an era of great cynicism about public officials and politics, government services are a noble calling. You don’t do it for the money, you do it for the love of people. This is all I ever wanted to do — be in government, in public service. The people of my district have allowed me to do that. I will ever be eternally grateful.”

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Anatomy and Physiology and Human Biology Club will host a “Delete Blood Cancer” donor drive on Wednesday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gardner campus. The event, which registers potential bone marrow donors with the Delete blood Cancer DKMS registry, is open to the public.

Delete Blood Cancer DKMS assists patients with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and also helps patients with certain autoimmune disorders, including aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and other rare genetic disorders.

The registry process takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to fill out a form, review eligibility and health guidelines and swab the inside of the cheek. Swabbing helps determine a personal Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type. HLA are protein markers on cells that are used in matching donors with patients. They are inherited, which is why most patients match with donors from the same ethnic background. Prospective donors will be listed on the registry by their HLA type. Volunteers may become a match in a month, a year or longer, or may never be called.

Blood cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and kills more people under age 20 than any other disease in the U.S. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants can be life-saving treatment for blood cancers like leukemia and approximately 70 other diseases. Patients in need of transplants must find genetically compatible donors to provide marrow or stem cells. While 30 percent of patients can find a matching donor within their family, 70 percent must turn to the national registry to find one. Each year, more than 10,000 patients need transplants using donated marrow or cells. Only half will receive them.

Delete Blood Cancer DKMS started with one family’s search for a bone marrow donor and is today part of the world’s largest bone marrow donor center. The organization leads the fight against blood cancer by working with families, communities and organizations to recruit more donors and provide more patients with second chances at life. To date, the organization has registered more than four million potential donors and facilitated more than 40,000 life-saving transplants around the world. For more information, visit deletebloodcancer.org.

 

Robinson Broadhurst scholars 2014

This year’s Robinson Broadhurst Scholars at MWCC include, from left, Dakota Wood, Courtney Paradise, Devan Tenney, Shelby Slemmer and Laura Cosentino.

This academic year, five Murdock High School seniors are simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an academic certificate from Mount Wachusett Community College through the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship program.

The one-year, full-time dual enrollment program, funded by a generous grant from the foundation, allows Winchendon students to earn academic credentials to enter the workforce or to apply toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Through this program, now in its second year, students are provided with scholarship funds to begin a trade or technical program in automotive technology, allied health, information technology support or accounting certificate. The Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation grant provides full scholarships for the students.

The scholarship program provides the students with an opportunity to learn a trade that will allow them to enter the labor force once they finish high school or soon after and earn a higher wage than they would with only a high school diploma. This year, all five participants are seeking a certificate in Allied Health. This year’s Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholars are Dakota Wood, Courtney Paradise, Devan Tenney, Shelby Slemmer and Laura Cosentino.

“We are most grateful to the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for their generous and continued support of this initiative to benefit Murdock High School students,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This program not only helps students achieve their goal of obtaining a college education without accruing tremendous loan debt, but ultimately supports the economic development of our region by preparing young people with skills they can directly apply in the workforce.”

Completion of the program with a high school diploma and a college certificate will allow students to enter the workforce with a marketable skill, increase their lifetime income and provide the opportunity to continue with their higher education.

“The Robinson-Broadhurst program means everything to me. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet new people and experience what independence really means. I joined the program so I could feel my way through what I wanted to do with my life and build a good foundation to pursue my dream,” said Deven Tenney.

“I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get a year of college done while I was completing my senior year of high school,” said Shelby Selmmer. “I knew that I had the chance to earn college credits before I graduated and to get an early start in my college career.”

The program is led by Veronica Guay, Director of Dual Enrollment, and Shaunti Phillips, CVTE Transition Counselor, in MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition, in partnership with Murdock Guidance Counselors.

 

 

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty MeehanMarty Meehan, Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Lowell and former seven-term Congressman, will deliver the keynote address during Mount Wachusett Community College’s Commencement on Wednesday, May 21.

“We are delighted to welcome Chancellor Marty Meehan to our campus as this year’s Commencement speaker,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “His passion for community engagement was ignited while he was a Massachusetts public higher education student, and he brought that commitment to the state, national and campus levels. These same values of civic engagement are instilled in a Mount Wachusett education. Given his accomplishments in law, government, politics and higher education, Marty Meehan represents to our graduates a model of engagement at every level,” he said.

“I look forward to speaking to the members of the Class of 2014 about how a high-quality, public higher education positions them for success in life,” Chancellor Meehan said. “I encourage them to continue along the path of lifelong learning by pursuing bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees at UMass Lowell or other institutions of higher education. I know their studies at Mount Wachusett Community College have prepared them well.”

Chancellor Meehan represented the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2007, where he served on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees. Widely respected as a reformer, he established a national reputation for his legislative leadership in transforming campaign finance laws and protecting people against the health risks of tobacco use. Previously, he served as Massachusetts deputy secretary of state for securities and corporations, and he was the first assistant district attorney of Middlesex County.

Since his appointment in 2007 at UMass Lowell, he has propelled the university to achieve record growth in enrollment, student retention and fundraising for research and scholarships. In addition, he has initiated a physical campus transformation that includes new academic buildings and residence halls and upgraded student services facilities. While strongly focusing on academics and student success, Chancellor Meehan has made access, affordability and diversity a keystone of his vision to raise UMass Lowell’s image and impact on the region.

He graduated cum laude from UMass Lowell in 1978 with a degree in education and political science. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986. He holds honorary degrees from Suffolk University, Green Mountain College in Vermont and Shenkar College of Engineering & Design in Israel.

Kathy Matson

For her dedication and commitment to serving others, Mount Wachusett Community College student leader Kathy Matson has been presented with Campus Compact’s national 2014 Newman Civic Fellows Award.

A Business Administration major, Matson represents college students across Massachusetts in her role as the student member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and as a liaison between the board and the state-wide Student Advisory Council, on which she also serves. As a member of the Board of Higher Education, she advocates on behalf of students across the Commonwealth for public policy changes that will impact the ability of students to succeed in higher education. Two policy issues she has helped champion include the restructuring of the math sequence and the integration of civic education at all 29 public colleges and universities across Massachusetts.

In addition to working two jobs and consistently making the President’s List and Dean’s List, the Baldwinville resident has provided more than 400 volunteer hours to various organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. She serves as president of MWCC’s Student Government Association, as an officer in the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, as a Student Ambassador in the Admissions office, as a SALT Ambassador in the Financial Aid office, as a mentor with the Students Serving Our Students office, on the MWCC Alumni Association, and is an active volunteer with numerous Student Life events. She is a second time MWCC student, having first earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice in 1985.

“We are extremely proud of Kathy for her leadership on campus, at the state level, and in the community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are delighted that she has been recognized with this distinguished award. As a student leader, she serves in many capacities and diligently works on behalf of students throughout the Commonwealth. She has a true passion for helping others.”

The Newman Civic Fellows Award recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. College and University presidents nominate student leaders representing the next generation of civic leaders. This year, 197 students from 36 states received the national award.

The award is named for educator Frank Newman, co-founder of Campus Compact, past president of the University of Rhode Island and author of Higher Education and the American Resurgence. Since 1985, Campus Compact has grown to represent more than 1,100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.

“Being named a Newman Civic Fellow is an amazing honor,” Matson said. “I received this recognition for my civic engagement and volunteerism, but being civically engaged and volunteering is a way of life for me and not something that I do for recognition. I am appreciative to the president, staff and peers at the college who submitted my nomination. They have all been an inspiration to me during my time at MWCC.”

Matson’s ability to be a strong advocate for students make her an exceptional role model, said Fagan Forhan, director of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

“Kathy is an excellent illustration of what it means to be an engaged student and citizen, and exemplifies hard work and determination. She provides alternative perspectives and a strong clear voice as an advocate for herself and others. Kathy is not afraid to be the dissenting voice in a discussion and is always willing to engage in dialogue and debate about important social issues facing our students. Her no nonsense attitude serves her well in this capacity as she empowers other to make positive change in their lives.”

Outside MWCC, Matson is an active volunteer within her community, including serving on the Templeton Community Emergency Response Team as administrative assistant to the Emergency Management Director. In addition, she also volunteers her time to maintain a database of over 4,500 families and volunteers for MassHOPE, the Massachusetts Home School organization.

She and her husband Calvin have three grown sons who are also alumni or current students at MWCC and are entering military service. Prior to returning to MWCC for her second degree, Matson was a stay-at-home parent who home schooled her children for 22 years.

This is the second consecutive year a Mount Wachusett has received the prestigious recognition. In 2013, Human Services major and student veteran Bryan Sanderson of Lunenburg received the award for his initiative founding the Students Serving Our Students peer mentor program.

 

Kelli Bator

MWCC student Kelli Bator sang the National Anthem during a Naturalization Ceremony held at the college. Also pictured, from left; Judge Timothy S. Hillman, Mayor Mark Hawke, President Daniel Asquino, and Luis Chavez of the USCIS.

Mount Wachusett Community College served as the backdrop welcoming 222 Massachusetts residents from 47 different countries as new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony on March 19 in the Fine Arts theatre.

For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services selected MWCC as the setting as part of its ongoing initiative to bring ceremonies to local communities, said Joseph S. Forte of the USCIS, an alumnus of MWCC. The USCIS presented the candidates for naturalization to the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, before the Honorable Timothy S. Hillman, United States District Judge, District of Massachusetts.

President Daniel M. Asquino and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke welcomed the new citizens and their families gathered for the ceremony, and MWCC student Kelli Bator sang the National Anthem.

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services welcomed more than 6.6 million naturalized citizens into the fabric of our nation.

This semester, Leominster Campus Dean John Walsh and Academic Counselor Jose Mangual have been working with the United Neighbors of Fitchburg to provide preparation classes for those wishing to apply for naturalization. Ai Co Abercrombie, Assistant Director of Enrollment Management, is also assisting by providing outreach to students and community in the greater Gardner area.

The Citizenship Preparation Program is designed to help legal permanent residents who qualify to become U.S. citizens.Volunteers help candidates fill out forms, provide citizenship classes, provide transportation for those who need it, and translation of documents. The assistance is offered on Friday afternoons from 12:30 to 2:30 through April 25.