Faculty and Staff Stories

Survivor BGCFL benefit 2014

Participants in last year’s Survivor: The Musical benefit performance helped raise $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. On Friday, Jan. 23, prominent local leaders will take to the stage at MWCC’s Theatre at the Mount to support the club.

Twenty contestants, two tribes, but only one “Survivor.” Local celebrities will try to “out sing, out perform and out shine” the competition in Survivor, the Musical, an upcoming Theatre at the Mount production to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.Tickets are now on sale for the event, which will take place at Mount Wachusett Community College on Friday, Jan. 23. Following upon the success of last year’s event, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, BGCFL Executive Director Donata Martin and business and community leaders will appear as featured contestants.

Performers will compete in this take-off on the popular TV reality show. Singing, dancing, acting, puzzles, trivia, and the dreaded “tribal council” will provide a full evening of non-stop fun. Survivor, the Musical is conceived and hosted by Theatre at the Mount veteran Chris Casello.

“We are delighted to once again offer this fun evening of entertainment to benefit the children served by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Survivor the Musical, featuring well-known members of our community, promises to be an evening of exceptional entertainment for a worthy cause. Having received the support of this national organization as a child, I know first-hand that the opportunities and experiences are transformative.”

Since 2001, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has worked in youth development with young people ages 8 to 18 from many economic, social and family circumstances.

“We are grateful for the community’s generosity and ongoing support of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and its many fine programs, and to Mount Wachusett Community College in particular for serving as our primary sponsor and host of this event,” said Justin Gelinas, president of the Club’s Board of Directors. “The collective efforts of individuals, corporations and organizations help us fulfill the Club’s mission of inspiring and enabling young people to realize their full potential.”

Tickets to the dinner and theatre performance are $100 per person, and tables of eight or 10 are available. For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, contact Patty Fields at 978-534-8358, ext. 17 or email pfields@bgcfl.org. Dinner and theatre tickets may also be purchased through MWCC by contacting Lois Cox at 978-630-9101 or lcox@mwcc.mass.edu. Dinner reservations are requested by Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets to attend only the performance are $20 and are available through the Theatre at the Mount box office at 978-630-9388 or online at www.mwcc.edu/tam.

 

Tom Matsuda and Sculpture I students fall 2014

Art Professor Thomas Matsuda, front right, with Sculpture I students near one of nine site specific installment pieces created this semester.

Proving once again the power of art outside the gallery, MWCC students wrapped up the fall semester by installing nine sculptures throughout the Gardner campus.

The project, new this year to Art Professor Tom Matsuda’s Sculpture I course, provided students with the opportunity to create site specific installment tailored to a particular location on campus. Earlier in the semester, the class created sculptures from nature that were located inside and outside the campus.

“It’s great to have an environment where we can share art with the student body,” said Kyle Johnson, president of the student art club. ““We’ve had such great response from the college, which really motivates us. It’s invaluable for the art program here,” said Johnson, who worked with classmate Amber Martinez to create a colorful, multi-piece cloth sculpture they installed in the Commons.

Other participating students include Heather Chadsey (sculpture located near theater box office); Julia Stokes (art wing); Alexander Singleton (Commons and art wing); Bethany Proctor (art wing); Samantha Rutkowski (art wing stairwell to basement); James Ham (art wing) Garret Watson (art wing stairwell to second floor); Isabela Bourque (Commons).

Practical Nursing Class of 2014

Thirty five graduates of MWCC’s Practical Nursing program, pictured with faculty members Kimberly Shea, Kathleen Panagiotes and Collene Thaxton, were welcomed into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony on Dec. 17.

Friends, relatives and members of the college community gathered December 17 to welcome 35 Practical Nursing graduates into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony.Each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, was welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her or his lapel by a fellow nurse – a family member, friend or faculty member. MWCC’s eight-star pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World” with the nursing symbol in the middle.

Robert LaBonte, Vice President of Finance and Administration, congratulated the students on behalf of the college and President Daniel M. Asquino, and Eileen Costello, Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs & Social Sciences, delivered greetings from the Nursing Department.

Faculty member Lisa Gendron delivered the keynote address, congratulating the graduates on their achievement and offering words of encouragement as they begin their nursing careers. “Your pinning ceremony is a celebration of all the sacrifices you have endured to be here this evening. So congratulate yourselves as we congratulate you all.”

Like many of the graduates, Gendron began her healthcare career as a nurse assistant, before becoming a licensed practical nurse and an registered nurse. An alumna of MWCC’s associate degree nursing program, she went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. Gendron encouraged the students to continue their education as lifelong learners.

“There are few investements that will yield as high an investment as education.”

Graduates Vanesa Sanchez and Monica Mbugua, delivered student addresses, and classmates Amy Lovern, Elizabeth Carville, Noella Vautour, Rebekah Thompson and Megan Rivard presented on the significance of the pinning ceremony and its traditions, including the lighting of the lamp and the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

Reflecting on the rigorous academic program, Mbugua said, “We are students of different ages, from different nationalities, with different life experiences, and we are here tongiht sharing the same stage because we’ve worked hard to be here.”

“We have experienced so much in one year,” said Sanchez, a class representative. “Some sad times, some happy times, and some amazing times that will help define us as nurses for the rest of our lives. We have witnessed new life enter the world, aided in the end of life care, and all the stages in between. In these moments I have watched my classmates grow. Our compassion is unmatchable, our perseverence is inspiring and our love for nursing is evident in everything we do.”

As part of the one-year academic program, the students trained with professionals at 23 clinical sites that partner with the college, including Athol Hospital; Clinton Hospital; Community Health Connections; DaVita Dialysis Center; Fitchburg Adult Day Health; Gardner Adult Day Health Centers; Gardner Rehabilitation & Nursing Center; Golden Living Center; Habit OPCO; Heywood Hospital MHU/GPU; Heywood Hospital Maternity Center; HealthAlliance, Leominster Birthing Center; Leominster Public School District; Life Care, the Highlands; Life Care, The Highlands Adult Day Health; Nashoba Nursing Service and Hospice; North Central Charter Essential School; North Quabbin Adult Day Health Center; St. Peter-Marian Jr.-Sr. High School; St. Vincent Hospital, Seven Hills Pediatric Center; Stetson School; and Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital.

 

Diversity Competition 2014

President Daniel M. Asquino, right, and Diversity Committee Co-Chair Carla Morrissey, left, congratulate the winners of this year’s President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition, Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka. Not pictured, committee co-chair Maria Gariepy.

MWCC students Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka are the winners of the third annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course for use during the spring or summer 2015 semesters.

Walter, a Human Services major, was selected for an essay focusing on interracial relationships and reflecting on how curent issues between Caucasions and African Americans stem from unresolved power struggles dating back to the Colonial era.

Ciesluka and Pimental were selected for sculptures depicting diversity. Ciesluka, a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to pursue a nursing degree, sculpted diverse figures that collectively spell out the word “Humanity.” Pimental, also a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to continue for a Physical Therapist Assistant degree, created a globe sculpture with seven clay figures representing diversity on the seven continents.

The annual scholastic competition, sponsored by the MWCC Diversity Committee, invites students to prepare papers, posters, essays, research work, or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socioeconomic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin, as well as the value such diversity brings to the learning and working environment.

Ben Mikles mural

An exterior mural by MWCC art student Ben Mikles, one of the featured presenters during the Fall Art Student Lecture Series.

The Art Student Lecture Series, sponsored by MWCC’s Art Department, continued this fall with presentations on creating large-scale murals and marketing oneself as an artist.

“Like it or not, you’re in the sales business,” explained art major and self-starter Isabella Bourque, who presented “How to Market Yourself as An Artist” in December. “This is the presentation I wish I would have seen before I started selling artwork,” said Bourque, who noted that local, domestic and international pottery sales comprise one-third of her total income.

After purchasing an inexpensive kiln on Craig’s List, Bourque created a home studio, where she produces artwork for sale at commercial and rental galleries, commission shops and street fairs, as well as on Etsy. She similarly encouraged MWCC students to diversify their selling platforms, citing the Leominster Art Center & Gallery and the Gardner Area League of Artists as ideal venues for beginning freelancers.

By leveraging social media platforms and creating an online portfolio through Carbonmade, Bourque said she was better able to promote her work and make connections. She discussed the importance of establishing an online presence, obtaining a unique domain name and creating business cards.

Bourque, who also works as a graphic and web designer for WS Beauty Supply, also offered financial guidance, highlighting the need to maintain consistent prices, account for hours of labor, anticipate overhead costs and challenges, set aside profits and cater artwork to individual target markets. She will graduate this semester with an Associate Degree in Art.

Fall presenters also included Ben Mikles, who has extensive experience painting large-scale murals in many venues, both temporary and permanent using spray paint and brushes. Mikles spoke about his technique, materials, and process.

The Art Student Lecture Series was launched during the spring 2014 semester, with presenters Jennifer Mondestin, who discussed her recently published graphic novel and other commissions; Dylan Safford, who presented on digital painting using Photoshop; Robert G. Osborne who discussed his three decades experience as an artist and gallery owner in New York City; and Corinne Goodrich, who demonstrated plein air painting techniques.

- Cameron Woodcock

 

 

MWCC biotech photo

MWCC’s Biotechnology/Biomanufacturing degree and certificate programs have received a gold industry endorsement.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Biotechnology/ Biomanufacturing degree and certificate programs have received a gold endorsement from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium (MLSEC). The MLSEC is an initiative convened by MassBio and the MassBioEd Foundation to facilitate partnerships between the life sciences industry and higher education in order to more effectively match graduating students with the jobs companies are seeking to fill.

The MLSEC celebrated the successes of 17 degree and certificate programs at 10 community colleges and other educational institutions during a Dec. 2 ceremony in Lexington. Guest speakers included David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development and STEM and Executive Director of the STEM Advisory Council at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; and Matt Sigelman, Chief Executive Officer of Burning Glass Technologies.

Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean Janice Barney and Professor Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology department, joined educators and stakeholders in the life sciences industry at the event, which recognized the programs’ accomplishments and explored how the institutions and industry can continue to work together to cultivate and support the next generation of the life sciences workforce.

“One of our main objectives at MWCC is to ensure that all of our STEM students receive relevant, practical training and are immediately suited to fill in-demand careers,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Receiving a gold endorsement from the MLSEC reinforces our belief in this educational approach and our desire to provide continued pathways for careers in biotechnology, biomanufacturing and other STEM fields.”

“These endorsements ensure that community college biotechnology students and biotechnology certificate earners are provided with the information and experience they need to be successful candidates for careers in the life sciences industry,” said Lance Hartford, Executive Director of the MassBioEd Foundation. “Designing educational programs off of the competencies that life sciences companies require from employees ensures that students receive skills relevant and applicable to the research and manufacturing jobs available.”

“The Massachusetts life sciences industry depends on highly trained workers at every stage of the drug development and manufacturing process,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. “By producing graduates ready to join industry, these endorsed programs are helping fill the pipeline of industry workers to ensure that our life sciences supercluster can continue to grow and get therapies to patients around the world.”

Each educational program was evaluated based on program overview and scope of services, demonstration of laboratory practices, lab techniques and competencies. Also evaluated were workforce pathway development including its utilization of an advisory board, career services offered, and opportunities for work simulations and internships.

 

MWCC Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche, who recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research's Data and Decisions Academy, is congratulated by President Daniel M. Asquino.

MWCC Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche, who recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research’s Data and Decisions Academy, is congratulated by President Daniel M. Asquino.

Mount Wachusett Community College Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research’s Data and Decisions Academy. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino nominated LaRoche for the academy’s Presidential Scholarship.

The online, self-paced program for institutional-research professionals at two-year schools builds practical skills to enhance data-informed decision making in higher education, which in turn supports MWCC’s vision of a diverse, adaptive community of lifelong learners.

LaRoche was identified by President Asquino as an exemplary employee whose ascension could be further accelerated through specialized training. In this program, LaRoche completed courses in Longitudinal Tracking for Institutional Research and Survey Design.

“The need for skilled institutional research professionals has greatly intensified as data increasingly drives our strategic-planning efforts, which aim to help students succeed,” said President Asquino. “Shawn has emerged as a vital part of this process at MWCC, and we are glad we could nominate him for this professional development  opportunity.”

Leveraging his 12 years of prior experience in data collection and analysis, LaRoche completes the majority of MWCC’s external reports and provides administration and faculty with actionable and timely information.

“The skills I gained in the courses have already paid dividends in a number of projects, including research related to student progression through developmental education,” he said. “I am also more prepared for conducting larger-scale surveys thanks to the practical experience I gained in the courses. Advancing my skills in these areas is not only a benefit for me but for everyone at MWCC. I am grateful to President Asquino for his support of my participation in the program.”

In his spare time, LaRoche coaches Barre youth soccer and baseball, and serves as treasurer for Barre youth baseball.

Initial funding for the Data and Decisions Academy is made possible by a $1.92 million grant from Lumina Foundation for Education. The Association of Institutional Research, which hosts the academy, is based in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Fitchburg High School seniors complete college applications as part of the school’s first year of participation in Massachusetts College Application Celebration. More than 86 percent of the class completed college applications, exceeding the 80-percent goal set by MWCC Division of Access & Transition. Assisting FHS students, and wearing red t-shirts, are GEAR UP and TRIO staff members.

A majority of Fitchburg High School seniors celebrated Thanksgiving with more than a meal under their belt. By the holiday, more than 86 percent of the class had completed college applications, exceeding a goal set by the high school’s administration and guidance staff and MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition.

MWCC and Fitchburg High partnered to bring the Massachusetts College Application Celebration event to the school for the first time during the week of Nov. 17, with the goal of encouraging 80 percent of the senior class apply to at least one college of their choice by Thanksgiving. This is the third year Massachusetts has participated in the national initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program. The high school is encouraging 100-percent participation by spring.

“It was a great success,” said Andrew Goodwin, MWCC GEAR UP Director. By encouraging seniors to apply early, they are more likely to apply to several schools and find the best match for their academic goals, he said.

Bringing the application celebration directly to Massachusetts high schools coincides with key state education goals of providing college access to all students and closing achievement gaps, said state GEAR UP Director Robert Dias, who paid a visit during the Fitchburg event.

Damaris Cabrera, who has participated in MWCC’s Educational Talent Search program since middle school, said the application drive is making a big difference for students. The college access programs she has participated in have helped her realize the importance of higher education and the various financial aid programs available to help make that goal affordable, she said.

“I’ve received the information I need to help me prepare for my future.”