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MWCC student leader John Day received the Dean Sullivan Award at the Community College Student Leadership Association's annual conference in Wakefield.

MWCC student leader John Day received the Dean Sullivan Award at the Community College Student Leadership Association’s annual conference in Wakefield.

Mount Wachusett Community College student leader John Day was recognized for his enthusiasm and dedication, qualities demonstrated by Dean Richard Sullivan, formerly of Cape Cod Community College (CCCC).

Day received the Dean Sullivan Award at the Community College Student Leadership Association’s (CCSLA) annual conference, held Oct. 16 through 17 in Wakefield, months after receiving the MWCC Peter J. Trainor Leadership Award.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, Day recruited 200 volunteers to package over 20,000 meals for the MWCC edition of September’s 19th Annual United Way Day of Caring. He also serves as president of Beyond Str8 and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, as well as treasurer of the Student Government Association (SGA), an ambassador for Saltmoney.org and a mentor for Students Serving Our Students (SOS).

“I am very humbled and touched that my MWCC advisors, particularly Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement, nominated me for this award and put so much thought into the submission letter,” said Day. “Opportunities at MWCC are abundant, and the people I’ve met have led me into the various roles I currently perform.”

“John is an ideal candidate for the Dean Sullivan Award. In a short amount of time, he has become an active participant in student and veteran affairs and a mentor and advocate for students from all backgrounds,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, who spent seven years as Sullivan’s colleague dean at CCCC and also praised Day’s leadership in the Day of Caring. “Dean Sullivan’s number-one concern was always the well-being of his students. He would bend over backwards to help any student in trouble, and John exemplifies these qualities.”

During his two-plus years at MWCC, Day has also served as SGA Vice President, an orientation leader and a work-study employee in the Veterans Success Center.

“John is an exceptional role model for MWCC students. His greatest characteristics are his kindness and energy,” said Clement. “He takes advantage of all the opportunities offered here and encourages other students to do the same. ”

The CCSLA is comprised of all 15 Massachusetts community colleges, as well as New Hampshire Technical Institute and Nashua Community College in New Hampshire.

MWCC faculty, staff and alumni gathered at the summit of Wachusett Mountain after completing the five-mile hike. Participants raised funds to supper the college's Humanities Project.

MWCC faculty, staff and alumni gathered at the summit of Wachusett Mountain after completing the five-mile hike. Participants raised over $5,000 to support the college’s Humanities Project.

With President Daniel M. Asquino leading the way to the summit of Wachusett Mountain, Mount Wachusett Community College began an annual tradition on the mild morning of Saturday, Oct. 18.

In the first “Hike for the Humanities” fundraiser, a group of MWCC faculty, staff and alumni simulated Henry David Thoreau’s 1842 hike of Wachusett Mountain, collectively raising over $5,000 for the college’s Humanities Project.

Under the leadership of English Professor Michelle Valois and Director of Grant Development Heather Layton, MWCC received a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) challenge grant to strengthen its humanities curriculum through the interdisciplinary project. The first-year theme, “East Meets West in a Cabin in the Woods: Walden and Beyond,” based on Thoreau’s 1854 classic, is being integrated into MWCC courses and community events.

“This is a great day for our college. The turnout speaks volumes about the commitment of our faculty and staff, who were more than willing to support a good cause and a singular purpose,” said President Asquino, the first to complete the five-mile Pine Hill Trail. “We plan to hold this fundraising hike annually for the duration of the Humanities Project to support continued enrichment opportunities for our students and members of the community.”

As the NEH will match all funds raised by 50 percent, MWCC will receive an additional $2,500, adding to its previous total of $225,000.

“The fundraising aspect is important, but this hike goes beyond supporting the Humanities Project,” said Valois, who coordinated the event and initially proposed hiking Wachusett Mountain. “Just as important is the opportunity to build morale among faculty from multiple academic disciplines in a natural and extended-office setting. We very much wanted to capture the spirit of Thoreau, and of course everyone loves to hike.”

“We pursued an NEH grant to engage faculty, staff and students, and this hike, coupled with the four other events to this point, has been exactly what we envisioned,” said Layton. “Through this event to jump-start the Humanities Project, we also hope to communicate to donors that our own staff is thoroughly invested in this initiative.”

Thoreau was selected as the initial focus of the Humanities Project due in part to his affinity for Wachusett Mountain, which he developed through a noteworthy 1842 expedition. Thoreau and his companion, Richard Fuller, walked 34 miles from Concord to the mountain’s summit, moving him to pen the essay “A Walk to Wachusett.”

As MWCC continues its slate of free community events, professors from the disciplines of English, biology, business administration, nursing, sociology, graphic design, early childhood education, photography and math are engaging students in Thoreau-themed activities.

Echoing some of Valois’ sentiments, Associate Professor of Math Festus Kiprono said faculty participants in the hike are simultaneously supporting a “very worthy cause” and promoting “camaraderie and togetherness” across several academic disciplines.

“As a math professor, I felt it was important to participate because this is an interdisciplinary project that helps us provide students with a well-rounded education.” Having scaled Mount Monadnock several times, Kiprono also recognized the hike for its fitness benefits.

Beginning next week, the MWCC Humanities project continues with five additional events during the fall semester. These events include two book discussions of Thoreau-inspired books, a performance by a Thoreau re-enactor, lecture by the executive director of the Thoreau Society, and final student presentations and exhibits.

For a full schedule of events, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

Olivia Hoblitzelle, author of "Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's," will speak at MWCC in honor of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.

Olivia Hoblitzelle, author of “Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s,” will speak at MWCC in honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

In recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November, Mount Wachusett Community College and its Nursing Advisory Board will welcome author and Alzheimer’s caregiver Olivia Hoblitzelle. The presentation is free and open to the public and will take place on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 4 to 5 p.m. in the college’s theater. The presentation is free and open to the public and will take place on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 4 to 5 p.m. in the college’s theater.

Hoblitzelle, whose husband Harrison was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 72, offers a unique perspective on coping with the disease. Guided by their backgrounds in psychology, Buddhist meditations and the wisdom traditions, the Hoblitzelles chose to embrace the diagnosis and their remaining years together. Olivia Hoblitzelle details these experiences in her 2010 book, “Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey through Alzheimer’s.”

As a teacher in the field of behavioral medicine, Olivia Hoblitzelle pioneered the application of meditation, yoga and cognitive therapy into treatment for stress-related and chronic illnesses. In addition, she helped to develop one of the country’s first training programs in mind-body medicine. Prior to his death in 2001, Harrison Hoblitzelle taught comparative literature at Barnard, Columbia and Brandeis Universities and received the Dharmacharya, or senior mediation leader, transmission from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thict Nhat Han.

Alzheimer’s Disease affects one in nine Americans aged 65 and older and one in three people over the age of 85, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The association also reports that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers paid an additional $9.3 billion in healthcare costs in 2013.

Upcoming Humanities Project events include a book discussion of“Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild” and a performance by Thoreau re-enactor Richard Smith

Upcoming Humanities Project events include a book discussion of“Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild” and a performance by Thoreau re-enactor Richard Smith.

The Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project, focusing this year on the lasting relevance of Henry David Thoreau, moves to the North Quabbin region on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Athol Public Library will host a book discussion of “Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the program returns to MWCC’s Gardner campus with a performance by Thoreau re-enactor Richard Smith of the Thoreau Society from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the college’s theater.

In his book Cabin Fever, author Tom Montgomery Fate documents his own life, drawing inspiration from the philosophies of writer and abolitionist Thoreau and applying them to the present day. In perhaps his most literal application of Thoreau’s lifestyle, Fate divides his time between his family’s Chicago home and a cabin in the Michigan woods, which he built with the help of friends. Thoreau famously lived for two years in a self-built cabin near Walden Pond in Concord, MA, immersing himself in nature and writing the book “Walden.”

Originally from Ohio, Thoreau re-enactor Richard Smith is also a regular at Walden Pond and the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering and has performed at schools, colleges and historical venues throughout the country.

A Massachusetts-bred writer, philosopher and naturalist, Thoreau was a progressive thinker during the 1800s, opposing both slavery and the Mexican-American War. His refusal to pay the poll tax, which was imposed on all adults within a community and helped fund slavery, landed him in jail for one night in 1842. Known for his blunt honesty and sense of humor, Thoreau was also a disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a lover of the natural world, even labeling Mount Wachusett “the observatory of the state.”

Established through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the MWCC Humanities Project will feature a full slate of free events spotlighting various works written or inspired by Thoreau. The project also includes a campus-wide initiative at MWCC, as the college works to integrate enduring themes raised by Thoreau into multiple academic disciplines and curricula.

For more information about the MWCC Humanities Project and a full schedule of events, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

MWCC student Louis Ayisi, seen here with Governor Deval Patrick, represented his school at the Department of Higher Education's "Go Public!" event in Worcester

Gov. Deval Patrick and MWCC pre-engineering student Louis Ayisi at the Department of Higher Education’s Go Public! event in Worcester.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering and Honors Program student Louis Ayisi delivered one of six student speeches to a large assembly at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education “Go Public!” event held Oct 15 at Worcester’s North High School. With Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Education Matthew Malone on hand, Ayisi helped showcase MWCC to 350 high school seniors from Worcester’s North, South and Burncoat high schools.“Go Public!” brings together impending graduates at high schools throughout the state, promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and the merits of an education at one of the Commonwealth’s 29 public campuses.

Ayisi, who emigrated from Ghana to the United States seven months ago, has found his niche at MWCC and in North Central Massachusetts. Two semesters into his college education, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA while also volunteering as a math tutor at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

“Your past is an experience, and today is an experiment. So use your past in your experiment to achieve your expectation,” he said, while detailing his personal, academic and community-engagement experiences over the last seven months.

Following his speech, Ayisi joined MWCC admissions representatives at the subsequent college fair, which also featured demonstrations of STEM-related subjects. Additional student speakers represented UMass Medical School, UMass Lowell, Quinsigamond Community College, Fitchburg State University and Worcester State University.

The event was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and GEAR UP, a federally funded program providing early-college awareness activities to more than 7,000 students in seven high-poverty districts.

Administrators from Nepal's Far-Western University selected MWCC as one of a handful of stops on a multi-college US tour.

Administrators from Nepal’s Far-Western University selected MWCC as one of a handful of stops on a multi-college US tour.

Mount Wachusett Community College welcomed a delegation of six Nepalese educators seeking exposure to the best practices in higher-education administration on a multi-college US tour. Far-Western University in Nepal was established in 2010, and top administrators selected MWCC due in large part to its commitment to sustainability, as well as its applicable educational models and comparable rural setting.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and vice presidents from several campus departments highlighted such topics as modern curriculum building, student services, grading systems and foreign-exchange programs. Following the meeting in MWCC’s Murphy Room, administrators from Far-Western University toured the campus and specifically the biomass facility, which converts woodchips into heating and electricity.

“We had a very fruitful discussion with our colleagues from Far-Western University in Nepal today,” said President Asquino, who was presented with a Dhaka topi, a popular Nepalese hat.  “We shared thoughts on curriculum teaching and learning. Our students, faculty and staff were able to exchange ideas that will inform the future of both of our institutions.”

Representing Far-Western University were Dr. Narad Awasthi, dean of Faculty of Education; Dr. Bhawani Chand, dean of Faculty of Science and Technology; Bharati Joshi, dean of Faculty of Management; Registrar and Professor Hem Raj Pant; Dr. Tek Raj Pant, dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Controller of Examinations Kumar Thapa.

During their tour, administrators received a thorough overview of MWCC’s wind turbines, biomass-heating system and solar-energy systems, all of which will help to inform future sustainability practices at the Nepalese university.

Far-Western University hopes to increase its own conservation efforts in an area where deforestation has become commonplace, said Registrar Raj Pant. Raj Pant also said that the Far-Western campus receives a great deal of wind, and university officials aim to harness this resource and create a similar energy output to that of MWCC.

Based on their guests’ additional interests, MWCC leaders explained specific campus departments and services, including Online Learning and the corresponding Massachusetts Colleges Online, Disability Services, Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development and the Visions and Rx Programs.

The International Center of Worcester and Executive Director Royce Anderson coordinated the Massachusetts portion of the trip, which will also include stops at Worcester State and Clark Universities.

MWCC received 10 Medallion Awards at the NCMPR's fall conference, including a gold Medallion Award for its HIREed magazine.

MWCC received 10 Medallion Awards at the NCMPR’s fall conference, including a gold Medallion Award for its HIREed magazine.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, District 1, has awarded 10 Medallion Awards for excellence in communications to Mount Wachusett Community College. The awards were announced during the District 1 fall conference on Oct. 13 in National Harbor, MD.

MWCC’s Marketing and Communications division received three gold Medallion Awards for a series of four animated recruitment videos, cluster brochures detailing all program offerings, and its HIREed Magazine. These submissions corresponded to the award categories of College Promotional Video, Brochure/Flyer Series, and Magazine respectively.

NCMPR recognized MWCC with five silver Medallion Awards: In the Microsite category for the landing page featuring the animated recruitment videos; in the Direct Mail Campaign category for an enrollment mailer; in the Print Advertisement Series category for the fall campaign newspaper ads; in the Nifty and Thrifty category for program sheets showcasing individual departments; and in the Annual Report category for its 50th Anniversary President’s Report.

The college additionally collected two bronze Medallion Awards, one in the Television/PSA/Advertisement category for a spot promoting dual enrollment at MWCC and another in the Brochure/Flyer category for a collateral piece outlining the steps to enroll.

During the conference, Coordinator of College Graphics Briana Nobrega presented on the division’s self-serve marketing tool kit to enhance productivity, and Public Relations Director Janice O’Connor served on the conference program committee.

NCMPR’s District 1 encompasses community colleges in the eastern U.S. from Maine to the District of Columbia, as well as the maritime provinces of Canada and the United Kingdom. An affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, the NCMPR is the only organization of its kind that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges.

The Second Worcester District's two state representative candidates debated at MWCC in advance of the Nov. 4 general election. Pictured, from left, Steve Wendell of WGAW AM 1340, incumbent Jonathan Zlotnik and challenger Garret Shetrawski.

The Second Worcester District’s two state representative candidates debated at MWCC in advance of the Nov. 4 general election. Pictured, from left, Steve Wendell of WGAW AM 1340, incumbent Jonathan Zlotnik and challenger Garret Shetrawski.

The two state representative candidates in the Second Worcester District debated several issues at MWCC’s Gardner campus on Oct. 15, less than three weeks before Massachusetts’ Nov. 4 general election.

Incumbent State Representative Jonathan Zlotnik, D-Gardner, and challenger Garret Shetrawski, R-Winchendon, articulated their views on gun control, medical marijuana, a potential natural gas pipeline and expansion of the Massachusetts Bottle Bill, government-mandated paid sick leave and casinos.

Steve Wendell of WGAW AM 1340 moderated the 90-minute debate, which was sponsored by the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement and The Gardner News.

The Second Worcester District is comprised of Gardner, Ashburnham, Winchendon and Precinct 1 in Westminster.

bionostics equipmentMassachusetts’ 15 community colleges have been awarded a $20 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to further state-wide initiatives addressing training and educational needs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare.

Led by Massasoit Community College, the Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM) project will use the national Complete College America Guided Pathways to Success model to assist eligible students in obtaining degrees and certificates in STEM fields. The model focuses on reducing the time to complete certificates and degree programs, thus increasing the number of students entering the state’s workforce and transferring to four-year schools.

During the three-year grant period, the consortium will create or enhance a total of 24 STEM degree options and 58 certificate programs, through partnerships with business and industry, the Commonwealth’s workforce system, state universities and UMass. These collaborative pipelines will help students seamlessly transfer into baccalaureate programs and meet industry demand in specific STEM fields.

Mount Wachusett will receive $525,000 to create and enhance certificate programs in career readiness, hospitality, cyber security, information technology and other areas. MWCC is also currently overseeing a $15.9 million TAACCCT grant awarded last fall to the college and partnering institutions in Tennessee, Ohio and Louisiana to further training opportunities in advanced manufacturing.

The project will also build on the Career & College Navigator model, designed and implemented by the Massachusetts community colleges for the first round of TAACCCT funding in 2011.

“Creating key pipeline collaborations in the STEM fields in conjunction with the state universities and UMass will serve as a new model for creating comprehensive higher education and industry partnerships in the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hart, Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office.

The TAACCCT awards totaled $450 million to nearly 270 community colleges partnering with more than 400 employers nationally. The announcement made Oct. 3 by Vice President Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

(Photo courtesy of Mapping Thoreau Country)

(Photo courtesy of Mapping Thoreau Country).

In a show of college-wide support for the MWCC Humanities Project, faculty, staff and students will walk in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau to the summit of Wachusett Mountain, a spot the noted author and philosopher once labeled “the observatory of the state.”

Participants in the first “Hike for the Humanities” fundraiser on Saturday Oct. 18 collectively aim to raise $6,000 for the Humanities Project and corresponding $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Hikers will each raise a minimum of $200 toward the $6,000-goal, with the NEH matching all funds by 50 percent.

Participants will walk either the rigorous, five-mile route taken by Thoreau or a more moderate two-mile path.

Through this grant, MWCC has implemented an ongoing humanities initiative, both on campus and in the community, beginning with this year’s theme, “East Meets West in a Cabin in the Woods: Walden and Beyond.” Thoreau was selected as the initial focus of the Humanities Project due in part to his affinity for Wachusett Mountain, which he developed through a noteworthy 1842 expedition. Thoreau and his companion, Richard Fuller, walked 34 miles from Concord to the mountain’s summit, moving him to pen the essay “A Walk to Wachusett.”

Participating hikers include President Daniel Asquino, Susan Blake, Greg Clement, Lorie Donahue, Susan Goldstein, Festus Kiprono, Heather Layton, Caela Kathy Panagiotes, Provost, Kara Roche, LeaAnn Scales, Madhu Sharma, Brenda Shelling-Biggs, Michelle Valois, David Wyman and Carla Zottoli.

To make a donation, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/mwcchike, click “donate to a fundraiser” and select a team participant.