Faculty and Staff Stories

Garrisons with Dan and Tina

Peggy and Jim Garrison, with Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega and President Asquino, were recognized for their generous contributions to the college and its students.

Prior to MWCC’s 50th Commencement ceremony, college and local officials paid tribute to Jim and Peggy Garrison for their generous support over the past several decades to the college and students.

Named in their honor, the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education on the Gardner campus serves as an educational setting for college students as well as a preschool in collaboration with the Montachusett Opportunity Council. The center will be adorned with a plaque commemorating their gifts.

“Jim and Peggy Garrison epitomize the essence of what it means to be caring, engaged citizens in a democratic society. They give freely of their time, talent, and resources to philanthropic efforts that advance humankind,” the plaque reads.

“This Center is named in recognition of their generous gift toward the construction of the facility and their additional gift of $1,000,000 for scholarships to students who study in the field of early childhood education. It is their belief that those who care for our precious children deserve to have all barriers to higher education eliminated. Further, they correctly believe that the foundation to success and compassion begins in the early years and that children have the right to be supported by parents and caregivers who are keenly interested in their development.

Jim and Peggy Garrison will be forever instrumental in the success of our city, our community, and our nation by their efforts to nurture the development of compassionate and engaged human beings from their formative years forward.”

Visions & RX awards May 15 2015

Visions and Rx program award winners Rhonda Albert, Renee Chandler, Kimberly Mertell and Stevie LaBelle with Rx senior advisor Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Executive Vice President Ann McDonald, and TRIO SSS Programs Director Gaurav Khanna.

During its annual awards ceremony, MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs celebrated the achievements of graduating and continuing students, welcomed back a program alumnus, and bid a tearful farewell to a longserving staff member who has taken on a new role at the college.

“We have a bumper crop of graduates this year,” said Gaurav Khanna, Director of  the TRIO Student Support Services Programs at MWCC. Many of the graduates are continuing on for bachelor’s degrees, with this year’s graduates transferring to Mount Holyoke College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, Fitchburg, Worcester and Westfield state universities, Nichols College, Hampshire Colleges and others.

Edwin Encarnacion, who participated in the Visions program in the mid 1990s shortly after moving to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, shared how the program and supportive staff were instrumental in helping him excel academically, professionally and personally as he transitioned to life in a new country.  After earning a degree in media arts, Encarnacion went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in communciations and instructional technology from Fitchburg State University. He now works as a test engineer for Image Stream Medical.

“I would not be where I am today without the visions Program. I knew I had the drive to succeed, but they made the road a lot easier.”

The Visions Program, which has been offered at MWCC for more than three decades, assists eligible students enrolled in any non-healthcare major. The Rx program, which focuses on supporting students pursuing healthcare majors, is graduating 35 students with associate degrees and certificates.

The programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Education TRIO grants,  help guide participants throughout the college experience and assist those who wish to transfer to a four-year institution by offering a variety of services, including intensive academic advising, transfer and personal counseling, professional tutoring and supplemental instruction. The Visions and Rx programs support income-eligible students, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.

During the May 15 awards ceremony, graduating Visions Program students who collectively earned 55 associate degrees and certificates were recognized with a number of achievement awards. The President’s Award was presented to graduating Human Resources major Renée Chandler, who will continue studies at Fitchburg State University, and the Visions Award was presented to continuing student Stevie LaBelle, who is pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Each will receive a $250 scholarship.

The Rx Award for a continuing student was presented to Kimberly Mertell, who plans to continue studies in Healthcare Information Management. The President’s Award was presented to Rhonda Albert, who is graduating with an associate degree in Human Services and transferring to Anna Maria College to earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Program mainstay Gloria Correa expressed her admiration for the staff and students, and explained she will continue supporting students in her new position within MWCC’s Financial Aid office.

 

 

John Day Cathy Teague Phillip Stan President Daniel Asquino

President Daniel Asquino with award recipients John Day, Cathy Teague and Phillip Stan during MWCC’s annual Evening of Excellence Awards Ceremony. VIEW MORE PHOTOS HERE

Dozens of area students received awards and scholarships during Mount Wachusett Community College’s annual Evening of Excellence academic awards ceremony, held May 14 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Leominster. The ceremony showcased students receiving national, state and regional awards in recognition of their performance inside the classroom as well as their contributions in the community.

In addition to college curriculum and outstanding achievement awards, the MWCC Foundation also presented a number of memorial awards and scholarships during the ceremony. The foundation has awarded more than $280,000 in scholarships this year.

“This is a fantastic time of the year,” President Daniel M. Asquino told the honorees. “It represents and celebrates your many accomplishments, academic pursuits, civic engagement and contributions to the community.”

The following awards were presented:

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

All USA Academic Team Nominees: Cathy M. Teague and Phillip M. Stan

Visions Program Award: Stevie LaBelle

RX Award: Kimberly Mertell

Best of English 101: John L. Alden, Karin J. May, Lara E. White

Sandy Signor Award: Diane L. Mascitti

Jean Tandy Award: Jessica E. Foley

2015 Newman Civic Fellow Award: John S. Day

Service Learning Scholarship: Lori G. Belliveau, Julianne R. Hutchins

CURRICULUM AWARDS

Accounting: Gregory A. Lizotte

Art: Corinne M. Goodrich

Automotive Technology: David S. Niall

Biological Science: Meghan K. Durgin

Biotechnology/Biomanufacturing: Savannah M. Cooke

Broadcasting and Electronic Media – Video/Film: Jordan S. Jubacz

Broadcasting and Electronic Media – Photography: Michael D. Taillon

Business Administration Career: Pamela A. Mercer

Business Administration Transfer: Derek L. Gaidanowicz

Clinical Laboratory Science: Prabha S. Amaresan

Computer Information Systems: Crystle R. Monahan

Criminal Justice Corrections: Lance M. Grieman

Criminal Justice Law Enforcement: Derek N. Gyles

Dental Hygiene: Tasey J. Lemieux

Early Childhood Education Career: Lauren E. Hildreth

Early Childhood Education Transfer: Heidi M. Lupien

Exercise and Sports Science: Patricia Rousseau

Fire Science Technology: John J. Gilmartin

General Studies: Charles M. Njaaga

Graphic & Interactive Design: Desiree M. Procell

Human Services: Renee P. Chandler

Legal Studies: Kimberly L. Bonk

Liberal Arts & Sciences: Kayara S. Burnett

Liberal Arts – Theatre: Austina L. Towle

LPN to ADN Bridge: Catherine W. Migwi

Medical Assisting: Tess L. Aucoin

Natural Resources: Michelle Nye

Nursing: Karlee E. McIver, Jared E. Robie

Pre-Engineering: Bryce K. Bodley-Gomes, Charles Gesner

MWCC FOUNDATION, INC. AWARDS

Alumni Scholarship: Alexander R. Campbell

Barbara Chaplin Memorial Scholarship: Heidi M. Lupien

Barnes & Noble Scholarship:  Bianca A. DiGiannantonio, Ashley Hancock

Carl Tammi Award: Crystle R. Monahan

Carrie Progen Memorial Scholarship: Kathryn M. Ahearn

Craig Hamel Scholarship: Lindsay M. Howard

Edith Baldyga Scholarship: Roxanna M. Figueroa

Ellen Daly Dental Hygiene Scholarship: Alyssa B. Adoretti

Father Adamo Scholarship: Renee P. Chandler

James D. Murphy Scholarship: Phillip M. Stan

Jonathan C. Craven Scholarship: John S. Day

John Burton Award: Amber Martinez

Joseph B. Ruth Scholarship: Mary Lisa Burns

Keith Nivala Award: Thomas J. Mullins

Marilyn Kiosses Scholarship: Kimberly L. Mills

Melissa Herr Marsh Scholarship: Amy L. Moisan

Millie McGuire Foundation Scholarship: Diane L. Mascitti

Mount Observer Scholarship: Bryan R. Nolan

Robert H. Gilman Memorial Scholarship: Stephanie A. Zamojski

Robert Weibel Award: Garrett J. Watson

Roberts Scholarship: Louis A. Ayisi

Sara Kajel Award: Amanda L. Stewart

Sharyn Rice Award: Aaron Trudeau

MWCC Veteran’s Memorial Scholarship: Aaron Trudeau
MEMORIAL AWARDS

Aspasia Anastos Award: Lara E. White

Judge Moore Award: Bryce K. Bodley-Gomes, Todd Perry

Peter J. Trainor Leadership Award: Thomas Berger
HONORS SOCIETY RECOGNITION

Honors Program Graduates: Victoria R. Allen, Ivy Benoit, Bryce K. Bodley-Gomes, Kayara S. Burnett, Mary Lisa Burns, Chantal A. Froystein, Colette M. Leon, Brandi Logue, Phillip M. Stan

First MWCC graduation 1966

MWCC’s first Commencement exercises took place on June 12, 1966 with 71 graduates. This year, the college will award more than 840 degrees and certificates to 781 graduates. Pictured, from left, 1966 graduates and award recipients Mary Pieloch and Doris Townsend; Dr. Arthur F. Haley, President; graduate and award recipient James Eacmen, Jr.; and Commencement speaker Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, president of Clark University. (Photo courtesy of The Gardner News)

Fifty years ago, lifelong Gardner resident Helen Lepkowski was among a handful of Mount Wachusett Community College faculty members to congratulate the college’s first graduating class.

On Wednesday, May 20, the former business division professor and her husband, Ed, a former MWCC trustee, will maintain their longstanding tradition of attending the celebration. Unlike the first ceremony, where 71 graduates received associate degrees in six academic programs, the college will award more than 840 associate degrees and academic certificates to 785 graduates enrolled in nearly 50 program options.

Mount Wachusett’s first commencement, held outdoors on Sunday, June 12, 1966 at the Elm Street campus, featured Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, the third president of Clark University, as the speaker.

“It was very small and it was just wonderful and intimate. It was a beautiful day,” Mrs. Lepkowski recalled. “It’s always a wonderful opportunity to be there and there are always people you know who are graduating or are there for the occasion.”

MWCC’s 50th Commencement ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the college’s Fitness & Wellness Center.

Among this year’s highlights, Gardner native Kevin Berg, executive vice president of production for CBS Network Entertainment in Los Angeles, will deliver the commencement address. Berg also will receive an honorary doctorate of Humanities, as well as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award.

Community leader and long-serving volunteer James O. Garrison will receive is the recipient of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2015 Service Above Self Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions within the 29 cities and towns that make up the college’s service area. Mr. Garrison, former MWCC Board of Trustees chair and benefactor of the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Education scholarships, will receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. Prior to the commencement ceremony, President Daniel M. Asquino and the Board of Trustees will recognize Mr. Garrison and his wife, Peggy, for their generous gifts and commitment to students during a rededication of the Garrison Center.

Business Administration graduate Yasmine Kanaan has been selected to deliver the Class of 2015 Student Address.

Five retiring professors will receive emeriti status: Joel Anderson, Media Arts & Technology; Paul Laverty, Mathematics; John McNally, Health Sciences, Fitness & Wellness; Elena Natalizia, Criminal Justice; and John Reilly, Business Administration.

New this year, two food trucks will be on site to curb appetites: The Dogfather Truck of Worcester, and Dylan and Pete’s Ice Cream Truck of Boston. The MWCC Alumni Association will return with flowers for sale, and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society will conduct its 12th annual Project Graduation food drive. Graduates and their guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the commencement rehearsal and/or ceremony. Donations will be delivered to the Gardner Community Action Committee, the Winchendon Community Action Committee, and MWCC’s Students SOS office.

Cathy Teague

Cathy M. Teague

The state Department of Higher Education will kick off the 2015 commencement season by recognizing top students from across Massachusetts at the fifth annual 29 Who Shine award ceremony on May 14 at the State House. The award honors 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus, for their academic achievement and community service.

Mount Wachusett Community College student Cathy May Teague of Winchendon will be among the students recognized by Governor Charlie Baker, state education officials, campus presidents and others attending the ceremony.

“I want to congratulate the outstanding Class of 2015 graduates for the recognition they have received and thank them for their substantial contributions to their local communities,” said Gov. Baker. “Each of the ‘29 Who Shine’ honorees, in addition to being an accomplished student, is civically engaged in ways that improve the quality of life in Massachusetts.”

“Each one of our 29 honorees is from Massachusetts and planning to remain in Massachusetts,” noted Richard M. Freeland, commissioner of higher education. “Through their dedicated scholarship and deep engagement in their local communities, these students are making good on the taxpayers’ investment in their education.”

A lifelong resident of Massachusetts, Teague has her hands full as a full-time student, a mother of three young sons, and stepmother to two teenagers and a 20-year-old soldier serving in Afghanistan. Yet she makes it a priority to carve out time to serve fellow students as president of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Student Government Association, vice president of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and mentor to peers who are struggling with academic or personal issues by volunteering with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program.

Teague has taken a leadership role in civic engagement on and off campus, participating in many endeavors such as helping to build a home with Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts, food drives to assist those in need, and fundraising to benefit student-centered campus initiatives and community nonprofit organizations. As president of the SGA, she spearheaded the college’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which served more than 80 families this past year. Additionally, she and her husband, Jason, reach out to help others in as many ways as possible, for example opening their home on Thanksgiving to veterans.

A first-generation college student, Teague participated in the college’s Rx program, a TRIO Student Support Services program designed specifically for health care majors.

“It became clear that in order for me to have a stable career, I needed a college education,” Teague said. “Because of the support, scholarships and positive encouragement I received at Mount Wachusett, I have grown into a confident person with a clear path.”

An outstanding student academically, Teague was recognized this spring as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa All-Massachusetts Academic Team and nominated to the All-USA Academic Team. She has been named to the President’s List and the Dean’s list for academic achievement and will be recognized as a Civic Scholar at Commencement for her extensive service learning and volunteer work. This spring, she also was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

Teague is applying to become an AmeriCorps VISTA, and plans to continue her studies at MWCC to earn a Physical Therapist Assistant degree to achieve her career goal of working with children as a PTA.

The 29 Who Shine campaign asks each honoree to select a faculty or staff mentor to accompany them to the celebration in Boston. Teague named Elaine R. Gagne, an adjunct professor of English, reading and first year experience. The Athol resident also works as a technology teacher for grades K-6 at the Orange Elementary School.

“Professor Gagne has given me endless encouragement through personal and academic challenges. She helped me unlock my potential, allowing me to grow not only as a student but to grow into many leadership roles. She also taught me that if my dreams don’t scare me, they are not big enough,” Teague said.

“I am so proud of Cathy. When I had her in FYE, I knew she was going to go far,” Gagne said.

Sam Leveillee MWCC GID exhibit 2015

MWCC student Samuel Leveillee recevied Best in Show in the collegiate category for his digital photo art “Let Your Imagination Soar.”

For the first time, Mount Wachusett Community College’s annual spring graphic design exhibit was opened to high school students, resulting in two best in show awards in the high school and collegiate divisions, as well as dozens of awards in categories ranging from website, magazine and logo design to DVD cover, portrait illustration and advertising.

The juried exhibit, currently on display at the college through the summer, featured 75 pieces in 14 categories created by MWCC Graphic and Interactive Design students, as well as 25 pieces in five categories created by high school students. The college received more than 75 submissions from students at Oakmont Regional High School, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, and Murdock High School.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our students and faculty, and was thrilled to share the design exhibit and awards reception with the students and teachers from area high schools,” said Professor Leslie Cullen, chair of MWCC’s Graphic and Interactive Design department. “This was our most well-attended, successful opening receptions yet. We hope to expand the show next year to include more high schools.”

This academic year, the college revamped its Computer Graphic Design programs in print and web design into Graphic & Interactive Design program, which combines studies in both areas. More than 100 people attended a recent opening reception and awards ceremony, including MWCC GID faculty and alumni, graphic design teachers from Oakmont and Monty Tech and their students and families, as well as MWCC alumnus Robert Parks, who performed on acoustic guitar for the event.

MWCC student Samuel Leveillee of Templeton, won best in show in the college category for his digital photo piece, Let Your Imagination Soar. Leveillee, who is graduating in May and transferring to Hampshire College to pursue a bachelor’s degree, also received best in category awards for magazine design, digital illustration, and web & interactive design, as well as honorable mention in the DVD cover category.

Laurynn Bedard Oakmont RHS MWCC GID exhibit 2015

Oakmont Regional High School student Laurynn Bedard won Best in Show in the high school division in the digital illustration category for her digital self-portrait.

Oakmont sophomore Laurynn Bedard of Westminster won best in show among high school students for her digital self-portrait, which also one best of category in digital illustration.“To have art work that was showcased at Mount Wachusett Community College was an incredible honor,” she said. “I have never participated in an exhibit that was strictly for the appreciation of graphic design work, but I have participated in other local community art shows that encompassed mixed media art and graphic art. I was very shocked and immensely humbled to receive the Best of Show award for the high school categories. There were so many talented students that submitted fantastic work. I can’t express how grateful I was and still am for the award.  I enjoyed the show, and it is a great memory that I will not forget,” she said.

“The opportunity to have Oakmont students submit their graphic design work to a local show that was focused on graphic design was awesome; usually that is not the case, said Oakmont graphic design teacher Lawrence M. Szalay. “It was well received by the Oakmont students. They expressed enjoying both the high school and collegiate work that was exhibited. Oakmont students had success and it was truly a great experience for me to witness the pride they have in creating strong graphic design work. The awards and accolades presented to students on all levels in all categories were great.”

VFW donation to MWCC Foundation

The Ovila Case Post 905 VFW recently presented a $1,000 donation to the MWCC Foundation to support scholarships for student veterans. Pictured, from left, MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, MWCC Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer, past Commander Donald Progen, Commander-elect Joseph LeBlanc and President Daniel Asquino.

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 Asquino, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and Director of Veteran Services Bob Mayer accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander-elect Joseph LeBlanc and past Commander and MWCC alumnus Donald 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.

 

Gail Steele

Professor Gail Steele

Professor Gail Steele, director of Theatre at the Mount, not only will be recognized with a community service award during the House of Peace and Education’s annual Celebrating Women event, she’ll also share the stage with one of the country’s greatest performers, Rita Moreno.

The Grammy, Tony, Emmy, and Oscar winning performer will headline the annual event to raise awareness of women’s issues and funding for House of Peace & Education, Inc., a non-profit serving women and children in North Central Massachusetts. This year’s event will take place on Thursday, May 21, at Great Wolf Lodge of New England in Fitchburg.

Under Professor Steele’s supervision TAM has received local, regional, and national acclaim. In her 38-year career, over 2,500 individuals have appeared in TAM productions and over 8,000 have participated in summer drama and choir programs. Many have gone on to pursue their own careers in theatre after literally growing up at Theatre at the Mount. In addition to her work at TAM, Professor Steele has shared her expertise and been active in many organizations throughout the community.

HOPE empowers women and children by providing employment and educational skills, and nurturing self esteem, so they can to transition into independence. Because HOPE is a no-fees organization, it must raise considerable funds each year to continue its many services.

This year’s event begins at 5:30 p.m. and consists of cocktail hour with cash bar, dinner, a performance by Boston’s Divas with a Twist, presentation of awards, and finally Rita Moreno’s inspirational story through spoken word and song. Tickets are available in advance only: online at www.hopegardner.org, by calling 978-632-0400, or stopping in at the HOPEful Boutique at 33 Parker Street in Gardner.

In addition to the HOPE Celebrating Women Award, in April, Professor Steele received the Community Leadership Award from the ARC of Opportunity of North Central Massachusetts for her leadership and creativity in launching a sensory-friendly theatre performance for families who support children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or on the autism spectrum.

Left to right: Peter Kaufmann, Dan Asquino

Professor Peter Kaufmann, chair of the Automotive Technology department, was recognized for 35 years of service by President Asquino and the college community during the 20th Annual Employee Service Awards Ceremony.

President Daniel M. Asquino and the Division of Human Resources and Payroll honored employees who reached the milestone years of service with the college during the 20th Annual Employee Service Awards Ceremony on May 4. Collectively, the recipients represent 405 years of service to MWCC students and the college community.

In addition to the service awards, MWCC announced the recipients of the 2015 Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance, the recipients of the college’s fifth annual da Vinci Parachute Award, and the recipient of the state Workforce Mentoring Award. Five retiring professors were presented with emeriti status: Elena Natalizia, Joel Anderson, Paul Laverty, John McNally and John Reilly.

Cindy Doyle received the Commonwealth Citation individual award, and the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement and the snow removal team were presented with group awards. Honorees include: Evan Berry, Patricia Brewerton, Heather Daly, Michelle Errington Nicholson, Fagan Forhan, Lauren Mountain, Daniel Soucy and Teresa Tambling of the Center; and Norman Boudreau, Jason Brunelle, Leonard Charbonneau, George Couillard, Alan Cumming, Daniel McMilleon and Roland Meunier of the snow team.

MWCC introduced the da Vinci Parachute Award in 2011 to recognize employees who demonstrate innovation and creativity in their field. Melissa Croteau and Carol Jacobson received the 2015 individual awards, and the da Vinci group award was presented to Inclusive Hiring Committee members Kathy Boucher, Mark Boudreau, Charity Colley, Teresita Encarnacion, Maria Gariepy, Eric Johnson, Natalie Mercier and Carla Morrissey.

Melissa Croteau was recognized as nominees for the state Workforce Mentoring Award.

Peter Kaufmann was recognized for 35 years of service to MWCC, and Luz Lopez and Laurene Minns were recognized for 25 years of service. Employees recognized for15 years: Joel Anderson, Jacqueline Belrose, Patricia Brewerton, George Couillard, Julie Crowley, Teresita Encarnacion, Melissa Fama, Michelle Holman, Cynthia Krusen, Valerie LaPorte, Nancy Thibodeau, Stephanie Wiseman and Gardner Wood. Employees recognized for 10 years: Kristine Asselin, Gregory Clement, Rebecca Forest, Judy Fredette, Margaret Jaillet, Gaurav Khanna, Kathy Lewis, Thomas Montagno, Jess Mynes, John Reilly, Candace Shivers, Brenda Tatro and John Walsh. Employees recognized for five years of service include: Stephanie England, Eveliz Rivera-White, Marianne Segool and Tracy Sheridan.