Community Stories

Charles A Gelinas Sr MWCC SAS Award

MWCC’s 2014 Service Above Self Award recipient Charles A. Gelinas, Sr.

Community leader and long-serving volunteer Charles A. Gelinas, Sr. is the recipient of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2014 Service Above Self Award. The award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions within the 29 cities and towns that make up the college’s service area, will be presented during MWCC’s 49th Commencement on Wednesday, May 21.

A partner in the law firm Gelinas & Ward, LLC, Attorney Gelinas has supported the region and community in a wide range of capacities, including as a founding member, current member and past chair of the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and as a member and past chair of the Leominster Education Foundation. In addition, he has served as chair of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, as chair of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, as a former trustee and vice chair of Fitchburg State University’s Board of Trustees, and numerous other community and civic organizations.

Projects with which Gelinas has been involved include the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, the Fitchburg State University Recreation Center and the development of the Community Foundation that now controls assets in excess of $35 million and annually distributes $500,000 to nonprofit organizations and charitable causes.

“We are proud to present this year’s Service Above Self Award to Attorney Charles A. Gelinas, Sr., who has been a driving force behind countless initiatives that have enriched our community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “His spirit of generosity and willingness to share his time and talents exemplify the importance of engaged citizenship and the difference one person can make in the world.”

A native of Fitchburg who now resides in Leominster, Gelinas said that he is honored to receive the award to promote awareness of the importance of community service and leadership.

“Civic engagement was a core family value and so participating in community organizations that promote the public good and a higher quality of life in our region was a natural path to follow and one that has been extremely satisfying and rewarding on a personal level,” he said. “

“Ultimately, we are all in this together and need to share whatever talents and resources that we have for everyone’s benefit. And so, I am genuinely pleased to receive this award from Mount Wachusett, not so much from a point of personal pride but rather to promote civic engagement as a value worthy of public honor and to encourage a culture of leadership among the college’s students who are the next generation to confront our regional challenges.”

The altruism of the Gelinas family spans generations. Charles’ father, A. Andre Gelinas emigrated from Canada, became a U.S. citizen and served in World War I, before establishing the law firm in 1923. He also served as Special Justice of the Fitchburg District Court and then as District Attorney for Worcester County and was involved in numerous community organizations and civic groups. The family patriarch also was one of the founders of the IC Federal Credit Union, and chaired its board for 50 years.

The Fitchburg District Courthouse is named in honor of Charles Gelinas’ father and brother, Andre A. Gelinas, former Presiding Justice of the Fitchburg District Court and former Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court who likewise was committed to numerous community organizations. A majority of the family’s farmland on Pearl Hill in Fitchburg was donated to Fitchburg State University to be held in perpetuity as conservation land.

Gelinas earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross, followed by a master’s degree in English Literature from Assumption College and his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.

He and his wife, Janis, who also works at the law firm, have three children and six grandchildren. Their son Justin Gelinas and his wife Ashleigh also practice law with the Leominster firm; daughter Kristin Howlett, a member of the Leominster School Committee also works at Gelinas & Ward, and their son Charles A. Gelinas, Jr. practices law in New York City.

Business Lunch & LearnMWCC’s summer business luncheon series returns this year with a variety of professional development, supervisory and management sessions. The college’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development has bundled several of its popular course offerings for entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits as well as corporate staff.

On June 6, the session “Creating a Collaborative Workplace” will introduce the fundamental aspects that drive effective coaching and mentoring programs in organizations. Participants will learn ways to improve leadership and reduce key employee turnover, and be introduced to the critical skills needed to conduct coaching conversations, adapt one’s coaching style to fit changing situations, and become familiar with developing a coaching plan for business.

On June 20, “Human Resources and Business Staffing Fundamentals” will provide insights into ways to protect your business, your employees, and yourself from legal liability. In this session, participants will receive practical legal business advice from hiring to firing from a legal advisor and private sector human resources executive.

On July 18, “The Art of Giving a Performance Appraisal” will provide new and seasoned middle managers with tips to constructively and effectively inspire greater involvement, innovation, and business results from staff members Participants will learn about “the management by objectives process” as one example to support the appraisal process.

On Aug. 1, “Making the Transition to Management” will provide an overview of three leadership skill sets necessary to ensure individual and organizational performance. Participants will learn ways to adjust their management style to empower employees to find their own answers to business challenges and discover why coaching employees is essential to ensure maximum performance, motivation and retention.

On Aug. 15, “Negotiating to Win: Persuasive Communication” will cover essential techniques and approaches to positively influence and persuade customers, colleagues and stakeholders for a mutually desired outcome, such as resources for a project, funding for a new initiative, or establishing a team initiative to support a new product or service.

The luncheon series will conclude on Aug. 22, with an information session on the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund. Information about obtaining training grants, as well as recent changes to the program, will be provided.  The Workforce Training Fund is a state fund financed entirely by Massachusetts employers. Its purpose is to provide resources to Massachusetts businesses and workers to train current and newly hired employees.

All sessions take place from 12 to 1 p.m. in the North Café at MWCC’s Gardner campus, 444 Green Street. The cost for each session is $15 when pre-registered or $17 at the door and includes a complimentary lunch. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register for one or more sessions online at  http://mwcc.edu/wf/business-luncheon-series, by phone at 978-630-9575, or email training@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

Kathy Matson

Kathleen A. Matson

The state Department of Higher Education will spotlight top students from across Massachusetts at the fourth annual 29 Who Shine” student recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 8, at noon at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House. The award honors 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus in the state, for their academic achievement and community service.

Kathleen A. Matson, a highly regarded student leader on campus and across the state who will earn an associate degree in Business Administration in May, is among the honorees.

A motivated, enthusiastic leader with a passion for helping others, Matson has served this academic year as the student member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. As a full voting member of the board, she provides a voice for all public higher education students on issues such as affordability and college completion. During her term, she represented Massachusetts during a Student Voices conference in Washington, D.C., joining peers from across the country in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss ideas and concerns regarding higher education.

A member of the state-wide Student Advisory Council, Matson serves as a liaison between the council and the BHE. She has served on MWCC’s Student Government Association for two years, including the past year as president.

Matson earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from MWCC in 1985, and then worked in the private security field for many years. In 2012, she returned to the college to pursue a business degree to combine her interest in these two fields. An exemplary student, she has consistently been recognized for her academic achievements as a President’s List and Dean’s List honoree.

In addition to working two part-time jobs and volunteering for her community, Matson has provided more than 400 volunteer hours to various campus organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. Among her many activities, she holds officer positions with the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, volunteers as an ambassador in the admissions office and as a mentor in the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office, serves on the MWCC Alumni Association Board, and assists the campus community as a work study student in MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. For her dedication and commitment to serving others, Matson was recognized earlier this year with Campus Compact’s national Newman Civic Fellow Award.

She and her husband, Calvin, have three sons: Isaac, who graduated from MWCC in 2012, served as SGA president and is now completing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Westfield State University; Caleb, a Criminal Justice major, and Zechariah, a Fire Science major, who will both graduate from MWCC this year. All three sons are serving in the military.

The ceremony will also include recognition of each honorees’ faculty and staff mentors. Matson selected Associate Dean of Students Gregory Clement as her mentor.

“Greg has been a constant mentor and friend. He has always been there encouraging and helping me to attain goals I never thought possible. He has been instrumental in my success as a student leader, continually guiding me to broader horizons.”

Whitney Doucet, a 2013 graduate of MWCC, has been chosen to perform “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony. The outgoing, upbeat performer grew up in Leominster and discovered her love for music at a young age, particularly country music. She has been pursuing her passion for singing and performing since 2005 is a voice teacher in Boston and Worcester.

In May 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched “29 Who Shine,” a program to recognize outstanding students representing each of our 29 public campuses. The honorees, chosen because of their academic achievements and record of student leadership and community service, stand poised to contribute greatly to the civic life and economic well-being of the state. Whether furthering their education or entering careers here in Massachusetts in fields as diverse as education, public policy, medicine, creative arts, and engineering, they truly embody the vibrant future that we all envision for the Commonwealth.

 

PTK All Massachusetts Award

Award winners Bryan Sanderson and Kathleen Craigen are congratulated at the State House ceremony by President Daniel Asquino.

MWCC student leaders Bryan Sanderson and Kathleen Craigen were honored as members of the All-Massachusetts Academic Team during a recognition ceremony at the State House on April 24. The Phi Theta Kappa honor society, community college presidents and the Massachusetts Community College association sponsored the event.

Sanderson, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and president of the college’s Veterans Group, will earn an associate degree in Human Services in May. A highly engaged figure on campus, Sanderson has continuously named to the President’s and Dean’s lists. He is also a Commonwealth Corps Member, a student ambassador, peer veteran liaison/mentor, and work study student for the college’s Veteran Success Center. He founded the MWCC’s Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office, now located within the Center of Civic Learning and Community Engagement, and was a recipient of the Campus Compact’s national Newman Civic Fellow Award in 2013.

Craigen also will graduate in May with an associate degree in Human Services. This year, Craigen is serving as the AmeriCorps MACC*VISTA for MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. She also serves on the Student Government Association and participates in the Leadership for Life Series. During this spring semester, she is completing an internship with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office located within the center, working on capacity building and volunteer management at local nonprofit organizations. Craigen works directly with the new General Studies capstone courses, ISC 220, working with students placed within the community at the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

 

Victoria Vox 2014 Ukulele Melee at MWCC

Victoria Vox

Do you uke? If so, or want to learn, don’t miss the Ukulele Union of Boston’s fourth annual Ukulele Melee, taking place Saturday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mount Wachusett Community College, 444 Green Street, Gardner.

The festival will feature a variety of workshops, including two led by singer-songwriter and featured performer Victoria Vox, a ukulele flea market, sing-alongs, and an open mic. Pop-up jam sessions and performances are encouraged at anytime, anywhere, as long as they don’t interrupt other activities.

Each May brings National Play Your Ukulele Day, a chance to change the world four strings at a time by playing a ukulele, teaching others to play and enjoying ukulele fellowship. The cheery, budget-friendly instrument continues to grow in popularity among beginners and seasoned musicians of all ages, said Danno Sullivan of Harvard, one of the UUoB’s founding members and a ukulele instructor at MWCC.

Workshops include: songwriting and strum along, both led by Vox; songs of the British ukulele and banjolele comedic performer George Formby; hula; the 1920s; right hand strumming techniques; movable chords; singing; and harmonies. Seating is limited in some  workshops. An open mic will run from 2:45 to 3:45, followed by Vox’s performance at 3:45.

Vox has performed in Australia, Europe and Canada, and across the U.S. Originally from Green Bay, WI and now a resident of Baltimore, MD, she began writing songs at age 10 and earned a degree in songwriting from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Advance registration is recommended. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased through MWCC’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development at http://mwcc.3dcartstores.com/Ukulele-Melee_p_187.html, by calling 978-630-9525, or at the door.

 

PTK donation to HOPE

Members of MWCC’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society recently donated $250 to HOPE in Gardner from proceeds raised through 2013 Commencement DVD sales. PTK and the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society are teaming up this year for the 11th annual Project Graduation.

MWCC’s Phi Delta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society recently presented a donation to the House of Peace and Education in Gardner from proceeds raised during the chapter’s 10th annual “Project Graduation” conducted last year.

The $250 donation was collected through the sale of the 2013 Commencement DVDs in conjunction with the college’s Broadcasting and Electronic Media program.

“We truly appreciate this,” HOPE Executive Director Christian Orobello told the chapter members during a visit to the college. “The money you raised will send a child to summer camp who would not be able to go otherwise. The good you’ve done and the effort you put in really grows within HOPE. We could not exist without the people of greater Gardner.”

During this year’s 11th annual Project Graduation, half of the proceeds will benefit MWCC’s Students Serving Our Students program, with Phi Delta Chapter teaming up with MWCC Chi Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society to raise funds to help students in need. Members of the two honor societies are also conducting a food drive through Commencement day, on May 21.

All graduates and their guests are being asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the Commencement rehearsal or ceremony. Receptacles will be located at entrances to the Fitness and Wellness Center and all donations will be delivered to the Gardner Community Action Committee’s food pantry to benefit the local community. Donation receptacles are also located on the Gardner campus through May 21.

 

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.

Insert caption

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.