Faculty and Staff Stories

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.

Liane Jablonski and Robin Robinson COD award 2014

Massachusetts Colleges Online Course of Distinction Award recipient Liane Jablonski, left, with MCO chair Robin Robinson, Director of Education Technology and Interactive Media at Framingham State University.

MWCC instructor Liane Jablonski was recently recognized with a Course of Distinction Award from Massachusetts Colleges Online for her online course, “Introduction to Sociology.”

A resident of Rindge, N.H., Jablonski received the award during the consortium’s 10th annual eLearning Conference, held this spring at Bridgewater State University.

More than 2,600 courses are offered through MCO, a consortium of the 15 community colleges and seven members of the state university system in Massachusetts. The MCO Course of Distinction (COD) award is named after the Bay State’s unique association with the “Sacred Cod,” and the contributions that the fishing industry made to Massachusetts economy in the early years of its history.

“The award recognizes faculty from throughout the state who have developed and teach innovative and exciting online courses,” said Dr. Vincent Ialenti, dean of Academic and Institutional Technology at MWCC. “These courses are representative of the best uses of eLearning instructional tools to enhance student success.” The award’s name was selected to recognize the contribution that MCO’s members and eLearning make to the state’s economy in the 21st century.

In addition to accepting a cod fish replica pitcher and certificate at a special luncheon at the conference, Jablonski presented information about her course as part of the conference’s Best Practices Showcase.

MWCC Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Michele Paranto described Jablonski’s course as “Exemplary in its use of the learning modules to scaffold and facilitate student learning and engage students in the course material.”

In her course, Jablonski built discussion boards that encourage students to take ownership of their learning, to communicate and collaborate with each other and to master the content. In addition, she maximizes course communication to create and maintain a consistent instructor presence within the course that fostered positive online relationships with students, Paranti said.

Jay Bhatt, president and chief executive officer of Blackboard, Inc. delivered a keynote address to the 250 conference attendees, focusing on the role of online and classroom technology in education’s future, the impact on teaching and learning, and the expectations of 21st century learners.

 

2014 relay tv

President Daniel Asquino and other members of MWCC’s Relay for Life team were among the 2,155 participants in the 24-hour walk to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in support of research.

Mount Wachusett Community College students, staff and faculty were among the 2,155 participants who walked to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in this year’s Greater Gardner Relay for Life.

The 159 teams raised more than $444,000 during the 21st annual relay, held June 13 and 14 at MWCC’s fitness track. Participants and survivors walked to support loved ones battling cancer and in remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

MWCC’s relay team, chaired by Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Labonte, Professor Susan Goldstein, and campus police Lt. Melissa Crouteau, received overwhelming support from students to walk the entire 24 hours.

LaBonte thanked the college community for supporting MWCC’s team, including Theatre Technical Director and Set designer Jeffrey Boisseau, who created the team’s giant television booth in keeping with the event’s television theme this year.

The MWCC Alumni Association also hosted a team.

“Every member of the Alumni Association Relay Team has experienced firsthand how cancer affects our friends and loved ones. On our team we had at least one cancer survivor and others who have been caregivers and all of us have known someone who has fought and won, or fought and lost, a battle with cancer,” said Mark Geoffroy, vice president of the MWCC Alumni Association. “I’m so glad that Mount alumni were able to come together for this great cause.”

Over the past two decades, the event has raised over $12 million making it one of the most successful relays in the country.

-          Alexander P. Moore

 

 

VFW scholarship donation to MWCC Foundation

Members of Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation to support scholarships for student veterans. Pictured, from left, Commander Howard Sands, President Daniel M. Asquino, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier, board member and past commander Don Progen, and MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse.

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

President Daniel M. Asquino and Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander Howard Sands, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier and board member and past commander Don Progen, and thanked the post members for their continued 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.