Faculty and Staff Stories

Monty Tech MWCC EMT dual enrollment course

Through a new partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, Monty Tech’s Health Occupations students have access to a dual enrollment program that offers eight college credits and an EMT certification.

The rate at which Massachusetts residents earn college degrees will pivot from growth to decline by 2022 unless the state’s public higher education system, which educates more than half of all undergraduates, is able to increase the number of students who enroll and earn diplomas, according to a newly release report from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

The Degree Gap, the Department’s annual Vision Project report on the status of public higher education in the Commonwealth, was released at an event held at The Boston Foundation on June 8. The report suggests that employers who are already having difficulty meeting current workforce needs in high-demand fields will face even greater challenges in the next few years, as the state’s high school population continues to decline at the same time that an estimated 660,000 college-educated workers plan to retire.  Of those job openings requiring post-secondary education or training, two-thirds will require a college degree.

Increasingly, the higher education system will also be called upon to leverage its traditional role of offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees by also offering certificate and continuing education programs to ensure that students develop career skills needed to be successful.  The demographic challenges facing the state mean that public colleges and universities are likely to fall short of meeting the need for new associate and bachelor’s degrees by 55,000 to 65,000. The Degree Gap predicts that 80% of those “missing” degrees needed to fill the state’s talent pool in the next decade will be at the baccalaureate level or higher.

Mount Wachusett Community College is featured in the report for its innovative Math Modeling program, which provides math remediation to high school seniors, and a new dual enrollment partnership with Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School. The Math Modeling program, launched in 2013, has nearly quadrupled in size and continues to expand. It is offered Leominster High School, the Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation, Fitchburg High School, Gardner High School  Monty Tech, Murdock High School in Winchendon, and Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham, with two additional North Central Massachusetts high schools planning to participate this fall.

“The Degree Gap highlights important issues our Commonwealth must address to prepare our workforce to fill jobs which are currently going unfilled, and help employers find skilled employees in the future,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “It’s clear we need more degree earners and certificate program graduates, including those in the critical STEM fields, and I am pleased our administration has already taken steps to start tackling these challenges.”

“Studies have shown that the vast majority of Massachusetts job openings in the next decade will require a degree or certificate beyond high school, and our administration is working hard to expand training and educational opportunities,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser.  “The higher education system is a critical partner in helping our students and workers meet the needs of our changing economy, and we are focusing on ensuring they are prepared to succeed in college and in their careers.”

“The Degree Gap affirms that the state’s public higher education system must redouble its efforts to help more students earn college credentials, especially those from underrepresented communities who are much less likely to earn degrees,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “I will urge the leadership of our system to focus on what we are calling ‘The Big Three’ priorities for the coming academic year: making college more accessible and affordable, closing achievement gaps, and improving completion rates.”

The report’s findings align with several recent economic forecasts that project that a lack of available talent may constrain economic growth. Although the Commonwealth has more adult degree-holders than any other state—51.5 percent of adults ages 25–54—the state is projected to end the decade with fewer working age college-educated residents than it began with unless the rate of degree production improves.

“Our aging population and slow-grow¬ing labor force are expected to curb job growth significantly in coming years,” said Michael Goodman, professor and executive director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and co-editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the UMass Donahue Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “This makes closing the achievement gap and improving access to affordable and high-quality higher education an essential economic and social imperative.”

“Massachusetts’ knowledge economy richly rewards those who are trained or well educated, but rebuffs those who are not,” said Paul Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation.  “Knitting together the needs of our workforce with our educational infrastructure is crucial to encourage economic mobility, stem the rising tide of inequality, and ensure the growth and prosperity of our Commonwealth.”

The Degree Gap also examines capacity issues in two programs preparing students for careers in high demand fields: nursing and computer science. Officials at several public campuses report that they are unable to grow their programs for a host of reasons, ranging from lack of space and faculty hiring constraints to a shortage of clinical placements for nursing candidates.

The report details a series of new state and local campus initiatives to address The Degree Gap, including:

• The Commonwealth Commitment: Beginning in fall 2016, students in selected majors who begin at a community college and continue their education at a state university or UMass campus will receive a series of financial incentives to earn a bachelor’s degree in less than four and a half years, at an average savings of more than $5,000 per student.

• 100 Males to College: The University of Massachusetts Amherst, Westfield State University, Springfield Technical Community College, Framingham State University and MassBay Community College are collaborating with public schools in Springfield and Framingham to create college-going opportunities for low-income male students who would be the first in their family to attend college. Of the first cohort of Springfield students, 56 of the 59 seniors were accepted to college.

• STEM Starter Academy: All fifteen community colleges are offering free summer sessions at which local high school students tackle remedial math coursework, take part in science and engineering challenges and visit local employers to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. A recent program evaluation found that STEM Starter Academy students enrolled as full-time students at a rate 13 percentage points higher than the general community college student population.

A copy of The Degree Gap report can be downloaded here.

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Doug Petersen, second from left, this year’s Harold E. Drake, Jr. Citizen of the Year, is joined by Jay Davis Drake, President Dan Asquino, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli and Foundation Board of Directors Chair Ray Martino.

Service to the community and to students was the prevailing theme of the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s annual celebration, which offered guests a “passport into the future” of MWCC and its students, as well as an opportunity to reflect back on key figures in the college’s history and hear from several inspiring, recent graduates.

Long-serving community volunteer Douglas J. Petersen was recognized with the 2016 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year Award. Jay Davis Drake, a former chair of the MWCC Board of Trustees and a former member of the foundation, presented the award to Mr. Petersen in memory of his father, treasurer and former president of Royal Steam Heater Co. and Lynde Hardware & Supply, Inc.

The award recognizes community members who exemplify Harold Drake’s extraordinary commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

The event also recognized the academic success and civic engagement of MWCC students and showcased the new science and technology building under constructions and continuing renovations to the Haley building for an audience of college supporters, benefactors, students and community leaders. Guests proceeded through the campus with “passports” in hand, stopping at various destinations to learn more about the college and its programs. Stations included the Center for Civic Learning, the LaChance Library, the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics, the Veterans Success Center, K-12 Partnerships and the Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development.

Joined by his family, Mr. Petersen said he was humbled to receive the award. Among his many professional associations, business ventures and community causes, he serves as chairman of the boards for the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and is also a member of the MWCC Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the HealthAlliance President’s Council.

“Doug has made a fantastic difference in our community,” said President Daniel M. Asquino.

In one of several surprise announcements, Dr. Asquino was presented with the Foundation’s Harold E. Drake, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades of service to the college and to the community.

Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli announced two new, endowed scholarships created through the generosity of Hubbardston residents Barbara and Jim Carpenter in recognition of Mrs. Carpenter’s parents, George and Bernice (Johnson) Babineau. The Babineau-Johnson Nursing Scholarship and the Babineau-Johnson Veterans Scholarship were each endowed for $50,000 by the Carpenters, which will help MWCC students for “generations to come,” Zottoli said.

To underscore the importance of creating endowed scholarships, the Foundation also transferred $10,000 from its general scholarship fund to create a new scholarship fund by selecting a winner from among the guests’ “passports.” Outgoing Student Trustee Tom Berger was the chosen winner, and will be able to name the scholarship and work with the foundation to determine the criteria of the annual scholarship.

Recent graduates Benjamin Spurr of Barre, a Navy Veteran who is now headed to UMass, Amherst to continue his studies in biological sciences and biotechnology, and Bella Ballin of Worcester, who will transfer this fall to Carnegie Mellon University to continue her studies in chemistry, were this year’s student speakers, sharing details about the way the college and the foundation helped transform their academic experience.

The foundation also recognized 81-year-old Aurea Carrion of Leominster, who graduated last week with an associate degree in Human Services, and presented a video of graduate Chelsea Garrity of Barre, who is now on a service trip to Costa Rica, giving her Commencement speech.

Several past recipients of the Citizen of the Year Award were among the attendees, including Ronald Ansin, Kim Ansin, former Senator Stephen M. Brewer, James Garrison, Charles Bowles and Richard Flanagan. The event was sponsored by Royal Steam Heater Co. Workers’ Credit Union, Enterprise Bank & Trust, Heywood Hospital, Fidelity Bank, North Middlesex Savings Bank, Rollstone Bank & Trust and Simonds International. Proceeds from the event support student scholarships.

“Our foundation scholarships help hundreds of students achieve the dream of education,” Zottoli said. “It is truly their passport to a brighter future.”

Sheila Boria and Aurea Carrion

Sheila Boria and Aurea Carrion

Jose Mangual, academic counselor for students enrolled in MWCC’s English as a Second Language program, has a ready answer for prospective students who feel they are too busy, too old or not ready to enroll in courses.

He introduces them to students who once had the same concerns, but now are succeeding not only in the ESL program, but in MWCC academic programs as well.

“If someone says, ‘I’m too old, I’m in my 40’s and I’ll be the oldest student there,’ I say, ‘Have you met Aurea Carrion? She is 81!’ ”

Mangual served as host of the ESL program’s annual year-end celebration, which recognized the achievements of residents new to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Uruguay, Brazil, Egypt, Ghanna, Syria and Vietnam. The festive event, held at the Leominster campus, featured laughter, encouragement, and array of traditional food.

Special recognition was given to students who recently advanced in or completed their ESL courses, as well as to Ms. Carrion, who graduated with an associate degree in Human Services, and Sheila Boria, who earned an academic certificate in Human Services.

Carrion, who previously earned an associate degree from MWCC in 1990 in Secretarial Studies, worked as a liaison between the community and the Fitchburg and Worcester public schools. She retired from the Worcester Public School system in 2006.

Since then, she returned to MWCC to pursue her interest in the human services field and earned her academic certificate in Human Services in 2013. “I never get tired of studying,” she said. Her goal is to continue working in the human services field.

In addition to serving as president of the ESL club, Ms. Carrion has volunteered countless hours at the Leominster campus and most significantly, serves as an inspiration to fellow students. “It’s never too late!”

“I said if she can do it, I can do it. She was my inspiration,” said Ms. Boria, who will continue her studies and aspires to become a lawyer. “This is important to me. This is my future.”

 

 

Breana Keegan leads nursing pledge

Breana Keegan, president of MWCC’s Student Nurses Association, leads her classmates in the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

Family and friends from as near as Gardner and as far away as Zimbabwe came to celebrate the achievements of Mount Wachusett Community College’s associate degree nursing class during a traditional pinning ceremony held May 19 in the Fitness & Wellness center.

The 43rd graduating class was comprised of students enrolled in the day and evening programs and included LPNs who returned to continue their education through the college’s Bridge to Nursing program.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino congratulated the students on their success completing one of the college’s most rigorous academic programs. He noted that the care and compassion of nurses bring tremendous comfort to patients who are often at their lowest moment and in pain.

Summarizing key points made during his Commencement address the evening before, the president encouraged the graduates to move forward in their careers and lives with compassion, empathy and a positive attitude.

Mercy Dhliwayo of Fitchburg and family

Mercy Dhliwayo is joined by members of her family following the ceremony. From left, Jane Dhliwayo, who traveled from Zimbabwe to attend her granddaughter’s graduation and pinning ceremonies; Mercy’s mother, Patience Dhliwayo-Amoakohene, RN, who pinned her daughter; and aunts and MWCC alumni Privilege Dhliwayo, RN, and Patricia Dhliwayo-Kwangwari, RN.

“I can think of no other profession where these are so essential.”

Eileen Costello, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Community Service Programs, also welcomed the graduates and their families.

Dressed in traditional nurse uniforms, the students were welcomed into the profession by having the program’s nursing pin fastened to their lapels by a family member, friend, or an alumnus of the program, or a faculty member, to the cheers of family and friends. The pin symbolizes where the nurses completed their studies to become an RN and distinguishes them from other health care professionals. The eight-star MWCC pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World.”

As part of the ceremony, the students also took a nursing pledge that dates back to Florence Nightingale, who distinguished herself during the Crimean War by coming to the aid of sick and wounded soldiers.

 

President Asquino at podium

President Asquino shared the lessons he learned in 50 years of public service.

The transformative power of service and volunteerism was the resounding theme of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 51st Commencement on Wednesday, May 18, from the 157,000 service hours completed by students this past academic year to the decades-long legacy of President Daniel M. Asquino.

This year, 810 associate degrees and certificates were awarded to 734 graduates. The ceremony will be remembered as the final commencement President Asquino will preside over before retiring early next year.

Tina Sbrega, chair of the Board of Trustees, led a tribute to the president, who received a standing ovation in recognition of three decades at the helm of the college and nearly 50 years in public higher education in Massachusetts.

Since his arrival in 1987, he has established the college as a state and national leader in a number of key areas, from workforce and economic development to K-12 partnerships. Above all, Ms. Sbrega said, is the lasting legacy he will leave in the area of incorporating civic engagement as a hallmark of MWCC.

“He will be remembered most for having brought our community together for the good of all,” she said. “Throughout his 47 year career in public higher education in Massachusetts, Dr. Asquino has been driven by the belief that education is society’s great equalizer and has spent every moment of his career devoted to all of you and the tens of thousands of graduates who came before you.”

In delivering the commencement address, President Asquino reflected the accolades back to the students, faculty, staff and alumni for their hard work and commitment, personally and collectively.

“This is an amazing, transformative, magical college. Lives change here like nowhere else.”

He encouraged the students to enjoy life’s celebrations, and manage challenges and setbacks as an opportunity to “pick yourself up, and move on.”

Among the life lessons he shared, he advised the graduates be flexible to adjust to the ups and downs of life’s circumstances and to be mindful that “life is a merciless reflection of your own attitude.”

“There is no balanced allocation of good fortune or failure. The question then is when you are confronted with disappointment, tragedy, discrimination, how do you handle it? It’s OK to momentarily feel distraught and sad…but then you need to, as difficult as this may be, pick yourself up and move on. Let us be the person who sees opportunity in every calamity, rather than calamity in ever opportunity. That is the Mount way.”

Student speaker Chelsea Garrity, described her journey from being “a small fish in a big pond” to becoming an engaged student leader.

Chelsea Garrity student speaker MWCC 2016 commencement

Student speaker Chelsea Garrity shared her graduation rap song.

“I don’t think that I became a big fish in a small pond because the Mount isn’t a small place and it isn’t a competition for survival. I grew as a person, I challenged myself, and I tried new things. And that is my challenge to you. Class of 2016, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Try something you never though you would like or do….I promise you that it will all be worth it.”

Known for her spontaneous rap songs, she concluded her speech in similar fashion to the delight of the crowd.

“So here’s to the community that raised you up, and here’s to you for never giving up. And when it comes time to throw your cap up, Remember – for the graduates, by the graduates, we the graduates, Word. This is our future, and we will change the world.”

A number of awards were also presented during the ceremony.

The 2016 Service Above Self Award was president to Raymond M. Martino, President and CEO of Simonds International, who spoke of the power of collective volunteerism. The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to MWCC and the 29 cities and towns that make up MWCC’s service area.

Tom Berger, student trustee for the past academic year, was presented with the Trustees Award for his service, and three graduates were awarded the President’s Key for their academic excellence, Mellissa Richards, Jonathan Inman and Kelly Veautour.

Retiring professors Janice Gearan and Kathleen Panagiotis were awarded emeriti status.

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, who received the 2016 Alumnus of the Year Award, lamented that unlike the student speaker, he had no rap song to share, but drew laughter when he spontaneously sang out an operatic “President Asquiiiiinooo.” Mayor Hawke shared his personal story of his academic “ordeals and debacles” as he made his way from a “straight-C” student to college graduate thanks to the direction he received at MWCC. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and MBA.

“To my soon-to-be fellow alums, when you come to the two roads diverging in the woods, whether you take the one less traveled or not, always remember and be proud that your road began here at MWCC.”

 

SL celebration 2016 Dan Chelse and Stevie

Student leaders Chelsea Garrity and Stevie LaBelle presented President Asquino with a globe representing the far-reaching civic impact of MWCC’s students under his leadership.

It was a quintessential Mount moment. After leading MWCC’s decades-long commitment to civic engagement, President Asquino had an opportunity to pair his pride in student volunteerism with a song by one of his favorite musicians – Elvis – crooning one of his favorite anthems, “America the Beautiful.”

More than 130 students, faculty and staff stood, many singing along, as the music filled the South Café during the college’s annual Service Learning and Volunteerism Celebration. While the event marked the altruism of MWCC students, the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement paused to reflect on the president’s dedication to the college and to the community as he prepares to retire early next year.

“Fifteen years ago President Asquino declared to this region a Decade of Civic Engagement. It was so successful, after that decade ended in 2011, he declared a subsequent decade,” said retired Senator Stephen M. Brewer. “This incredible advocacy and successful effort resulted in the only endowment given to a community college for civic engagement in the entire nation.”

MWCC Parent Support Group

Members of the Parent Support Group, with club advisor Ann Reynolds, were recognized with the Above and Beyond Award for their many initiatives on campus this academic year.

“There is a value and a virtue for what you do,” Senator Brewer told the students. “We know government cannot do it all – no entity can – but we can do our part. That is the value. The virtue of what you do is as old as the Chinse proverb, ‘Those who sheld light onto others can only have it reflect back onto themselves.’ As leaders of our future, you are lighting the way as you go forward.”

The May 17 event, organized this year by student leaders, recognized a wide range of campus and community service learning and volunteer initiatives throughout the academic year. As of last year, MWCC students annually completed over 157,000 hours of experiential learning, volunteerism, community service, internships, co-ops, practicums and field experience, which carries a value of over $3.6 million to the region, said Fagan Forhan, Assistant Dean of K-12 Partnerships and Civic Engagement.

Dozens of graduating students received pins or medallions to wear during commencement in recognition of their extensive hours of service.

The United Way of North Central Massachusetts was presented with the Community Partner of the Year Award in appreciation for its efforts to establish MWCC as a “Day of Caring” site, which has enabled students, faculty and staff to volunteer for the annual service day during their free time on campus. During the event this past September, the college community packaged more than 21,000 meals for area residents in need.

Service Learning celebration nurses group photo

Graduating nursing students proudly display their service learning medallions for their hours of patient care.

Service learning scholarships were presented to Tatijana James and Bonnie Veilleaux and Rafaela Lopes was honored in recognition of receiving the national Newman Civic Fellows Award from Campus Compact.

Professor Janice Gearan, who is retiring this spring, was presented with the Civic Engagement Career Achievement award and Assistant Professor Daniel Soucy was presented with a civic engagement medallion. The event also featured a slideshow of murals created throughout Gardner by MWCC art students.

The Above and Beyond Award was presented to the Parent Support Group, an active club that has sponsored numerous events and initiatives to benefit students and families, and students who serve through the Students SOS office and SLiCE program (Student Leaders in Civic Engagement) were also recognized.

 

Bella Ballin and Gov Charlie Baker 3At just 18, graduating scholar Bella Ballin has already reached many milestones. Last week, as MWCC’s recipient of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s “29 Who Shine” award, she achieved another.

“I fist-bumped the governor and that was the highlight of my day,” she said with a smile.

Ballin, who will graduate from MWCC on May 18 with an associate degree in Liberal Arts: Chemical Science, and on May 20 with her high school diploma through the college’s Pathways Early College Innovation School, was among the 29 public college and university honorees recognized during the sixth annual celebration at the State House. She and her MWCC mentor, Academic Counselor Natalie Mercier of the Division of Access & Transition, were recognized by Gov. Charlie Baker and top education officials during the May 9 ceremony.

“Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and I congratulate all 29 of the 2016 award recipients and thank them for their substantial contributions to their campuses and local communities,” Governor Baker said. “Each of the 29 Who Shine honorees represent our future citizenry and workforce and have already made a positive impact on the Commonwealth.”

Diagnosed at age 16 with Multiple Sclerosis, Ballin chose to accelerate the pace of her education by tapping into the opportunities available through MWCC’s unique Pathways program, which has allowed her to simultaneously earn her high school diploma and an associate degree at no cost through school choice funding.

At MWCC, she has been named to the President’s List every semester for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She served as a math and chemistry tutor within MWCC’s Academic Support Center, as president of the student math Club, and has volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Additionally, she participated in MWCC’s Leadership Camp, Leadership Retreat and Women in Leadership forum. This spring, Bella was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and received the MWCC Alumni Award.

She was accepted into numerous four-year institutions and plans to transfer this fall to Carnegie Mellon University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in science, then return to Massachusetts to build a career in science.

“It’s exciting to see how this exceptional group of student leaders have chosen to put their brainpower and civic engagement to work in so many different ways that benefit our state — through STEM, through the arts, and through teaching, and medicine,” said Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. “We wish all of them well in their next steps, whether in their careers or additional scholarly pursuits.”

VFW donation to MWCC scholarship fund

The Ovila Case Post VFW continued its support for student veterans at Mount Wachusett Community College by presenting a $1,000 donation to the MWCC Foundation for scholarships. Pictured from left, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, President Daniel Asquino, Commander Joseph LeBlanc, past Commander Donald Progen and MWCC Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer.

The Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars recently donated $1,000 to Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

President Daniel Asquino, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander Joseph LeBlanc and past Commander and MWCC alumnus Donald Progen, and thanked the post members for their ongoing support of MWCC and student veterans.

The scholarship was established to recognize the important role played by MWCC in ensuring that the sacrifices and service of veterans who served the country will not be forgotten.

Scholarship funds are awarded to new or returning full-time students who were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or are currently serving in the Reserves or National Guard.

Dental Hygiene Class of 2016

Dental Hygiene Class of 2016 with their proud professors.

Graduates of MWCC’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs were welcomed into the profession during the department’s 10th annual pinning ceremony on May 13 in the South Café.

Executive Vice President Ann McDonald and Cynthia Cadoret, chair of the Dental Programs department were joined by guest speaker Dr. Peter Billia, dental director for Community Health Connections, and program faculty in congratulating the graduates on their achievement.

Over the past year, the dental hygiene and dental assisting students treated more than 800 patients through the college’s partnership with the Community Health Center.

Dental Assisting Class of 2016

Dental Assisting Class of 2016 with their proud professors.

Several students were recognized with awards. Caitlin Riendeau received the Johnson & Johnson Award, Paulette Hachey receive the Hu-Friedy Award, Monica Kwan and Wendy Uribe received the Dental Hygiene Department Award; Alyssa Adoretti received the Dental Hygiene Curriculum Award and the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists’ Association Academic Scholarship; Amanda Melanson received the Dental Assisting Department Award, and first-year students Leah Trudeau and Casey Bedingfield received the Ellen Daly Scholarship.

 

PTK officers group photo cropped

From left, PTK advisor Fagan Forhan, assistant dean of K-12 partnerships and civic engagement, Stevie LaBelle, Lindsay Jamison, Thomas Berger, Jana Murphy, Lisa Barry, Kimberly Cook, John Bombach and Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke.

MWCC’s Phi Delta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society inducted 61 new members and presented donations to community organizations from funds raised through a variety of events this academic year.

During the May 5 induction ceremony, the chapter presented checks of $500 each to the Gardner Community Action Council, the Winchendon Community Action Council, and the student-run Students Serving Our Students (SOS) mentor program at MWCC. PTK officers also recognized MWCC staff member Gardner Wood for his volunteer support building creative, fanciful props for the PTK annual Character Breakfast.

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, an MWCC alumnus and honorary PTK member, was the keynote speaker.

“Coming to the Mount was truly the best decision I ever made,” he said after confessing to being a “straight C” student in high school. “It gave me the direction I needed and showed me what hard work would help me achieve. My professors gave me encouragement and inspiration to carry on.”

After graduating from MWCC in 1994, Mayor Hawke went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMass, Amherst, and an MBA from Anna Maria College.

“If Mount Wachusett Community College had not been here, if Mount Wachusett Community College had not had the caring and professional professors and staff, I wouldn’t be here. And if I’m not here, just imagine what condition the city of Gardner would be in,” the five-term mayor quipped.

Chapter officers during the 2015-16 academic year were recognized for their service: President Jana Murphy; Vice President Thomas Berger; Secretary Stevie LaBelle; and Treasurer Lindsay Jamison. Officers installed for the upcoming academic year include Jana Murphy, for her second year as president; Lisa Barry, vice president; Kimberly Cook, secretary; and John Blombach, treasurer.

Founded in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa recognizes and encourages the academic achievement of two-year college students and provides opportunities for personal, academic and professional growth through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming.

The new inductees are: Donovan Aboal-Caceres, Kwadwo Acheampong, Terri Alden, Rebekah Amburgey, Linda Anderson, Sophia Andrews, Lisa Barry, Alexander Batutis, Sheila Boria, Amanda Boudreau, Romina Cabrera, Micaela Canessa Giorello, Matthew Casaubon, Karen Chapalonis, Sarah Chatigny, Kimberly Cook, Melanie Cranfill, Rhonda Cutler, Colleen Demboske, Simon Dufresne, Tara Dugan, Jaclyn Esparza, Amanda Favreau, Michelle Francisco Pimentel, Gregory Germagian, Samantha Goodale, Kristin Grantz, Zoe Hammond, Antonina Herbst, Michele Higginson, Nhat Hoang, Inna Kalfayan, Francis Koina, Rose LaFargue Joseph Leblanc, Christopher Lerew, Valerie Maloney, Yemni Mendez, Anne Nash, Matthew Niles, Hillary Nna, Cassandra Pateneaude, Lindsey Paul, Shannen Pimental, Marissa Pitisci, Dawn Marie Placentino-Olen, Crystal Pratt, Melissa Raggi, Kelsey Rayner, Brian Richard, Katelyn Schreiber, Rhonda Scoville, Benjamin Smith, Silvana Sosa, Michael Soto, Sarah Soto, Grace Stafford, Hollace Stevens, Casey Thoel, Rachel Vargeletis and Elizabeth Walsh.