Faculty and Staff Stories

Yasmin Barroso, Jasson Alvarado, Anne Nash, and Mariah Courtemanche

Back-to-school activities included the 10th annual Summer Leadership Camp held in late August. Fifty incoming students participated in a variety of workshops and community service projects, including filling 77 backpacks of donated school supplies for Massachusetts children in foster care. Additional service projects took place at the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center in Fitchburg and Many Hands organic farm in Barre. Pictured, from left, Yasmin Barroso, Jasson Alvarado Gomez, Anne Nash and Mariah Courtemanche.

Many changes and new initiatives marked the start of the 2014-2015 academic year. Not only are the college’s campuses filled with thousands of new and returning students, but several faculty and staff members have joined the college community or stepped into new roles.

Approximately 950 new students participated in day, evening and program-specific orientations, marking a dynamic start to the academic year. The orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs, support services, and activities.

A majority of the new day students attended orientation on Sept.2, which included seminars and other activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about college resources, and attended a student club expo. President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators greeted the incoming students and encouraged them to become involved with campus activities and tap into college resources to make the most of their experience at MWCC.

Campus changes include several changes in the Division of Academic Affairs. Dr. Vincent Ialenti is serving the Interim Dean of Liberal Arts, Education, Humanities, and Communication through the academic year, and Missi Sargent has been appointed Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. Veronica Guay, former Director of Dual Enrollment, has taken the position of Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Math. Staff Associate Cheryl Oliveri has moved to the Office of Development, Planning and Research and Michelle Brennan has been appointed staff associate for the Division of Academic Affairs.

In the area of Student Services, long-serving adjunct instructor and Army veteran Bob Mayer steps into a new role as Director of Veteran Services, and will oversee MWCC’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

Among the faculty changes, Cynthia Cadovet has been appointed assistant professor and chair of the dental hygiene and dental assisting programs, and Lisa Gendron has been appointed assistant professor in the associate degree nursing program. In addition, Maryjo Bowie was appointed professor and chair of the new Health Information Management program.

In the Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development, Michael Watson was appointed an instructor with the Manufacturing and Quality Systems program, and Gretchen Ingvason was appointed senior learning specialist. In addition, Timothy Friend joined the MWCC Campus Police department as an officer.

 

 

 

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MWCC art major Amber Martinez participates in a Raku firing at Snow Farm Craft Center in Williamsburg, Mass. With funding provided by the MWCC Foundation, the art department will create an area on the Gardner campus for Raku and pit-firing ceramics.

With the start of the new academic year, the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation has provided funds totaling $46,044 for eight innovative projects conceived by college faculty and staff.

“Current community college funding is such that we are often left wishing we had more resources to experiment with new and innovative pilot programs that have the potential to dramatically alter or create new opportunities for our students and the community,” said MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse. “The Innovation Fund allows us to financially support inventive staff and faculty and give them the opportunity to implement their concepts.”

Dean of Students Jason Zelesky will collaborate with the offices of Disability Services, Student Services and the Visions program to acquire new adaptive technology equipment to support students with documented disabilities. Enhancing the college’s inventory of assistive technologies will enhance academic success and encourage more students with disabilities to attend MWCC. The project will emphasize iOS applications and provide five iPads for student use in the classroom and during tutoring sessions.

Art Professor Joyce Miller received funding to create a program and fundraiser centered on Raku, a pottery tradition dating back to 16thcentury Japan. Available to art majors and non-art majors, as well as credit and noncredit students, the equipment will enhance the college’s art department to further attract prospective students. An exterior area will be designated for Raku and pit-firing ceramics. In addition to supporting the college’s art program, the equipment will support area high school art programs and their students by offering field trip opportunities and chances to participate in pit-firing or Raku firing, which in turn will assist with college recruitment.

Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics, and Perkins Counselor Shaunti Phillips, Career Vocational/Technical Education, will receive funding to create a new dual enrollment program for Gardner High School seniors interested in graphic and interactive design. Guay and Phillips will partner with Professor Leslie Cullen, chair of the Graphic & Interactive Design department; Natasha Robinson, Recruitment Counselor for the Admissions office; and members of the Gardner High School system.

Interim Director of Admissions Ai Co Abercrombie was awarded a grant to develop a peer-to-peer recruitment program, specifically targeting first-time students from traditionally underrepresented population groups: low-income and minority students and students with disabilities. The Admissions office plans to employ two student recruiters, one of traditional college age and one of non-traditional college age, who will accompany admissions representatives to college fairs, events and community activities and perform additional recruitment tasks.

Director of Student Success Debra Boucher received funding for a new program supporting non-traditional students as they transition to college life. The first portion of this program, a summer bridge session for non-traditional students and students returning to school following a five-year absence, took place in August. Incoming students learned about available resources at the college, while also participating in team-building activities. The program will continue this fall, as students attend two meetings to evaluate their college experiences and participate in leadership-building activities. Boucher is partnering with Student Services, the Visions program, the Advising Center and the Admissions office.

Lauren Mountain, Associate Director of the United Way Youth Venture in the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, received funding to further develop immersive learning opportunities for MWCC students. Along with her colleagues in the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, Mountain will use funding to support student ventures that create tangible changes in the community and at the college, similar to the Youth Venture program that has long served middle and high school students. This initiative is designed to promote retention and involvement at MWCC, enhance the educational experience for students, and provide them with community contacts and job skills.

Professor Sheila Murphy will partner with the Admissions office to further promote the benefits of the Honors Program and increase awareness among incoming students. By continuing to shape and market this honors culture, Murphy hopes to attract prospective students to MWCC and motivate them to participate in the many challenging degree programs. Further program goals include emerging as a top destination for students who excel in high school. To increase first-year student enrollment and eligibility for the Honors Program, Murphy will also partner with the Marketing and Communications department and the Dual Enrollment program.

Associate Professor John Little, chair of the Media Arts and Technology department, will receive funds to enlist students to record and produce concert DVDs. The project will build upon previous concert recording initiatives and will serve to promote the academic program, as well as provide service learning and entrepreneurship opportunities for students. Little will collaborate Theatre at the Mount as well as the Graphic and Interactive Design, Media Services, and Marketing and Communications departments.

 

 

Thoreau quote sign

Along the trails at Walden Pond in Concord.

This month, Mount Wachusett Community College launches “East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord: Walden and Beyond,” the first year of a multi-year, college and community project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The MWCC Humanities Project will begin with a book discussion on Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, famed Massachusetts author and the focus of this year’s initiative. Led by MWCC English Professors Michelle Valois and Susan Blake, the discussion will take place Wednesday, Sept. 17 from 6:30 to 8p.m. in the Commons Area of the college’s Gardner campus and is the first in a full slate of free events taking place this fall at venues throughout North Central Massachusetts.

Other upcoming events include a fundraising hike at Wachusett Mountain, a performance by a Thoreau re-enactor, and additional lectures and book discussions on the lasting relevance of Thoreau. Established through a $500,000 challenge grant the college received from the NEH,  the project will continue through 2019 with a new theme each academic year.

In late May, 30 MWCC educators spent a day walking the trails at Walden Pond in Concord, where Thoreau lived in a cabin for two years writing Walden, one of his most famous works. The visit was part of a week-long academy to prepare for the multi-disciplinary learning project devoted to the author’s influence and relevance to today’s students.

“Thoreau considered himself as much a scientist as a poet,” said Professor Valois, chair of the college’s Liberal Arts and Sciences and General Studies department and coordinator of the NEH project. “Thoreau’s scientific observations and inquiries are still relevant today and have given rise to the ‘citizen science’ movement. And as the creator of the modern concept of civil disobedience, Thoreau provides a perfect vehicle for examining the power and responsibility of the individual citizen in a healthy democracy.”

The program will continue with: “What Thoreau Can Teach Us about Climate Change,” a lecture led by Susan Gallagher of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell on Wednesday, Oct. 1 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner; a screening of the film Into the Wild on Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 12:30 to 2:45 p.m. in Room 127 of MWCC Gardner campus; “Thoreau’s Relevance for Our Time,” a lecture led by writer and independent Thoreau scholar Corinne Smith, on Thursday, Oct. 9 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the North Cafeteria at the Gardner campus; A Hike for the Humanities matching grant fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m., reenacting Thoreau’s 1842 hike at Wachusett Mountain; a book discussion of Tom Montgomery Fate’s Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library; and a performance by Thoreau re-enactor Richard Smith of the Thoreau Society on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the theater at MWCC’s Gardner campus.

Fall events will continue with a book discussion of Ken Ilgunas’Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom on Nov. 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Leominster Public Library; a lecture on “Thoreau: Eastern Philosophy and Non-Violence,” by Michael Frederick, Executive Director of the Thoreau Society, on Tuesday, Nov. 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the North Cafeteria at the Gardner campus; and an exhibit with student presentations on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., also at the Gardner campus.

Spring activities will include additional book discussions and a poetry reading. For more information about the program and upcoming events, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

Aliza Miller

Aliza Miller

Mount Wachusett Community College Assistant Professor of Mathematics Aliza Miller has been selected as a Project ACCCESS Fellow with the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC).

Project ACCCESS (Advancing Community College Careers: Education, Scholarship, and Services), is a professional development and mentoring program for mathematics professors at two-year colleges. Miller, selected to participate in a cohort of 24 math educators, will develop, implement and evaluate educational projects at MWCC and collaborate electronically with colleagues in the cohort.

“I am very excited and proud to have this opportunity, which I view as a wonderful stepping stone in my career,” said Miller, who joins Project ACCCESS in its eleventh year. “By working within a network of individuals who have similar work backgrounds, I’ll have lifelong contacts to both seek advice and discuss teaching practices. I look forward to the prospect of bringing different projects to the Mount and sharing them not only with my students, but the community at large,” said Miller, who will present her first project at an AMATYC conference in 2015.

After previously working as an adjunct professor at four colleges, Miller began her first full-time faculty position at MWCC in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in science and mathematics at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and holds a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Vermont. She previously taught English for two years in Taiwan.

MWCC ice bucket challenge

President Daniel Asquino is doused by Executive Vice President Ann McDonald during MWCC’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in memory of colleague Glenn Roberts.

Twenty-four MWCC employees, including President Daniel M. Asquino, lined up for the ice bucket challenge in memory of beloved colleague Glenn Roberts, who died a year ago on Aug. 12, 2013 after a courageous battle with the disease. The effort, organized by Access & Transition Staff Assistant Jessica Connors on behalf of “Glenn’s Friends,” raised more than $2,600 for the Massachusetts chapter of the ALS Association in honor of Roberts, who worked as an advisor and dean at the college for 21 years.

One by one, participants were drenched by a friend, colleague or family member who bid highest for the opportunity to tip a bucket. After being soaked by her young son, Executive Vice President Ann McDonald had the privilege of dousing the president.

“I’m challenging the other community colleges to get involved and raise just as much for ALS,” President Asquino announced.

In addition to President Asquino, Executive Vice President McDonald and Connors, other volunteers included Vice President Bob LaBonte, Vice President Lea Ann Scales, Kerrie Griffin, Kyla Holland, Jo-Anne Cronin-Fors, Scott Farris, Julie Crowley, Sue Guartafierro, Eric Johnson, Charity Cooley, Kate Smith, John Walsh, Michele Levasseur Goderre, Jim Halkola, Peggy Dow, Brenda Bourgeois, Lawrence Nfor, Chrystal Voorheis, Denise Whitney, Maryann Kane and Lexie Stewart.

To view the video, click here.

manufacturingThe long-standing collaboration between MWCC, the North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, and industry is showcased as a model demonstrating best practices for building and sustaining regional partnership in a new video created by the Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy (AMRPA).

MWCC, known for its well established partnerships with corporations such as Nypro and Bristol-Myers Squibb and the recipient of a recent $15.9 million, multi-state grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, is featured in the video along with the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, the North Central Workforce Investment Board and Nypro, Inc.

MWCC’s vice President of Lifelong Learning Jacqueline Belrose; Dean of Workforce Development John Henshaw; Kathleen Kirby, National Consortium Project Manager of of the TAACCCT-funded Advanced Manufacturing & Quality Consortium, are among the college officials interviewed in the video. The video was one of three unveiled during an AMRPA meeting in June.

The academy brings together manufacturers, workforce investment boards and academia to help regions throughout the state develop sustainable and effective partnerships that respond to industry needs.

Established by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2013 to accelerate the adoption of best practices, capacity building and industry engagement, the academy is a collaborative effort of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Executive Office of Education, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and the University of Massachusetts. The academy is funded by MassDevelopment through the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Fund.

 

 

Mary Bergevin, Paula D'Entremont, and Sue Hermanson

MWCC’s first nursing program Director Paula d’Entremont, center, with members of the first graduating class, Mary Bergevin and Sue Hermanson.

Alumni, faculty and staff of the MWCC Nursing Program gathered on June 25 at the Gardner Campus to reconnect and celebrate four decades of nursing education at MWCC. Alumni in attendance were representative of each decade since the program was established.

Mary Bergevin and Susan Hermanson were on hand to represent the first graduating class of 1974. ”This is absolutely wonderful seeing everyone together” commented Ms. Hermanson. “It took 40 years, but was well worth the wait.”  Mary Bergevin remarked that “It is exciting to reflect on the differences and advances that have been made when comparing how we learned with what the students have available to them today.”

The event featured a session on “Laughter Yoga” as well as tours of the new Sim Lab and information about continuing education programs.

Judy Fredette, ADN Nursing Program Chair who organized the event, commented ”It is exciting for us, as faculty, to reconnect with our former students and retired colleagues to find out how they are doing in life, to learn if they ever went beyond MWCC in their education, where they are working now, what we did right and what we can do better.”

Many in attendance expressed their wishes to make the Nursing Alumni Reunion a regular event. If interested in helping to plan future events, please email alumni@mwcc.mass.edu.

- Carol Jacobson

Linda Coyne

Linda Coyne has enrolled in MWCC’s new Health Information Management program to blend her existing computer technology experience with her emerging interest in healthcare.

Mount Wachusett Community College is rolling out several new and revised academic programs to prepare students for a wide range of careers.

“We’re excited about these new opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “The new and redesigned programs will serve needs expressed by local employers and students will be better prepared to enter the workforce or transfer, so this is a win-win for our region.”

Health Information Management, Hospitality, Cyber Security, Analytical Laboratory and Quality Systems, and Liberal Arts programs with STEM concentrations in biological science, chemical science, physics and pre-engineering are among the additional degree and certificate offerings available when the new academic year begins in September.

Existing programs that underwent changes to align with the most current industry trends include Graphics and Interactive Design (formerly Computer Graphic Design-Print/Web); Media Arts and Technology (formerly Broadcasting & Electronic Media); Energy Management; and Medical Coding.

As part of college initiatives focused on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Mount Wachusett has added new concentrations in these disciplines to its existing Liberal Arts and Sciences programs.

The Liberal Arts Biological Science concentration provides students with the first two years of a typical biology program so they can transfer into a bachelor’s degree program as juniors. This associate degree may also be used as a pre-professional program for aspiring physicians, veterinarians, dentists, and pharmacists.

Similarly, the Liberal Arts Chemical Sciences and Liberal Arts with Physics or Pre-Engineering provides students the first two years of a standard college courses in preparation for transfer into four-year programs as juniors and ensuing careers.

In response to new federal laws regulating how medical records and medical coding structures are maintained, MWCC has developed an associate degree program in the expanding field of Health Information Management. Individuals working in HIM play a key role in ensuring that healthcare organizations are compliant with state and federal regulations regarding capture, storage, and release of all medical data.

This field is seeing rapid expansion that will require significant new hiring of HIM-credentialed people to meet workforce needs over the next decade. In this career, individuals with an interest in the medical field and information technology skills contribute greatly to the healthcare industry without being direct care providers.

Several certificate programs have been added to the college’s short-term academic programs. The Analytical Laboratory and Quality Systems certificate program prepares students to gain entry level positions as laboratory and quality technicians for manufacturing companies and other organizations. Example positions include quality inspectors, calibration technicians, quality control analysts, document control technicians and manufacturing production technicians.

The Cyber Security certificate helps students launch a career in information technology security. In this program, students learn how to install operating systems and applications and study networking topics, as well as learn how to secure and protect these technologies against possible exploits and attacks. Students may use this certificate as preparation for the CompTIA Security+ SYO-201 exam or as a foundation for ongoing security studies.

The new Hospitality certificate program provides students with a strong foundation in the hospitality industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are projected to increase an average of 15.5 percent through 2018.

Faculty at Thoreau cabin

Faculty participating in the NEH Summer Academy tour a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond in Concord.

In late May, a group of 30 MWCC educators spent a day walking the trails at Walden Pond in Concord, where 19th century author, philosopher, naturalist and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin for two years, two months and two days writing his most famous works.

The visit was part of a week-long summer academy to prepare for an upcoming year-long, multi-disciplinary learning project devoted to the author’s influence and relevance to students today. In 2013, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the college a challenge grant of $500,000 to endow the “MWCC Humanities Initiative” to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum in North Central Massachusetts. The grant will be matched with funds raised by the MWCC Foundation to endow the initiative over the next six years. Thoreau’s Walden or Life in the Woods is at the center of the Humanities Project first year’s theme. Other authors and topics will be selected in subsequent years.

“The summer academy was very successful,” said English Professor Michelle Valois, chair of the college’s General Studies department and coordinator of the NEH grant project. “Faculty had the opportunity to collaborate on teaching and learning and they had the chance to grow intellectually. For some, Thoreau was new ground and they embraced the chance to be a student again. We also explored active learning, developing new ways to engage students in class discussion, and collaborative group work.”

Thoreau considered himself as much a scientist as a poet, Valois said. His scientific observations and inquiries are still relevant today and have given rise to the “citizen science” movement. He was also deeply influenced by Eastern religious and philosophical thought at a time when globalization was not a buzzword. And of course, Thoreau, the creator of the modern concept of civil disobedience, provides a perfect vehicle for examining the power and responsibility of the individual citizen in a healthy democracy, she said.

The academy provided guidance and inspiration as participating faculty prepare to integrate Thoreau and his works into cross-college disciplines, including English, biology, business administration, nursing, sociology, graphic design, early childhood education, photography and math.

Summer Academy Walden group photo

Professor Michelle Valois, coordinator of the new MWCC Humanities Initiative, leads a discussion during a faculty visit to Walden Pond in Concord, where Henry David Thoreau penned one of his most famous works, Walden or Life in the Woods. The book will be the focus of the Humanities Project’s first year’s theme.

Guest speakers and faculty participants presented lectures throughout the week. Michael Frederick, executive director of the Thoreau Society, spoke of Thoreau’s views of eastern philosophy and non-violence. Thoreau Society board member Susan Gallagher, associate professor in the political science department at UMass, Lowell, presented “Mapping Thoreau Country,” which followed Thoreau’s extensive travels through New England. Corinne Smith, author of, “Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey,” spoke on “Thoreau’s Relevance for Today.”

Several events, which are free and open to the public, are planned for the upcoming academic year including book discussions, lectures, a presentation by a Thoreau re-enactor, student presentations and a fundraising walk replicating Thoreau’s 1842 ascent up Wachusett Mountain, which was described in his  essay, A Walk to Wachusett.

“Wachusett is, in fact, the observatory of the state,” Thoreau wrote in his essay.

“That’s quite an honor for our little mountain, just as the NEH grant is an honor for our college,” Valois said.

 -         Alexander P. Moore

Dental programs tour June 2014

Incoming dental hygiene freshmen Paulette Hachey, Jessica Charron and Monica Kwan check out an operatory during a tour of MWCC’s new dental programs center in Fitchburg.

MWCC’s dental programs moved to spacious, new quarters in June, giving students, faculty and patients plenty to smile about.

The dental programs are now located at 326 Nichols Road in Fitchburg, adjacent to the original site at HealthAlliance Hospital, Burbank campus. The new facility is housed within the Community Health Connections’ newly opened, $20 million Fitchburg Family Community Health Center and continues a long-standing partnership with CHC that enables students to work with dentists and patients.

“It’s new and a pleasant, professional and inviting environment that welcomes students and patients alike,” said dental programs Director Anne Malkasian. “It’s a nice, welcoming facility to deliver good quality care in.”

The new space accommodates the growing dental programs, Malkasian said. In addition to containing the program’s seven operatories used for patient care, the new facility provides a larger classroom, designated space for space a dental materials lab, a library, offices and storage.

Students enrolled in the college’s part-time, evening dental assisting program will begin using the new facility this summer. Second-year dental hygiene students and freshmen entering the full-time, dental hygiene program in September had the opportunity to tour the new site on June 18 during their program orientation.

“The building is beautiful and we’ve all been very excited to start our second year here,” said continuing student Tasey Lemieux of Gardner.

Paulette Hachey of Fitchburg, who began her academic studies at MWCC as an English as a Second Language student, is excited to begin her dental hygiene program in the new facility this fall.

“It’s beautiful in here. It looks more like a dentist’s office than a school.

Malkasian, who plans to retire in the fall, said the move to the new location was a rewarding chapter in her career. She praised the CHC and its new chief executive officer, John DeMalia, for bringing the project to fruition and enhancing medical care for area residents.

“This is the medical and dental home for thousands of patients and it’s nice to have a beautiful facility for them,” she said.

During the past academic year, students in MWCC’s dental programs conducted fundraisers to contribute to the Community Health Connections Homestretch campaign to provide for additional clinical space and other building improvements. For more information about the campaign, visit www.thehomestretchcampaign.org.