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A dozen current and recent graduates of MWCC’s Gateway to College program recently shared their experiences with 27 incoming Gateway students. Pictured from left, Katriona Bell, Mariah Courtemanche, Mary Grace Daly, Angela Nicoli, Jasmine Welch, Anders Bigelbach, Alysia Ladd, Mya Shepard, Manny Corbeil, Kayla Pollack, Jason Alvarado-Gomes and Arturo Aponte-Cruz.

With the new academic semester about to begin, Mount Wachusett Community College is welcoming its largest spring cohort of Gateway to College students to campus.

The free dual-enrollment program, offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, is open to Massachusetts residents ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school, are at risk of dropping out, or experienced a setback due to health or personal reasons. Home schooled students are also eligible to enroll in the program, which allows students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and college credits toward an academic degree or certificate.

“I’m excited to be surrounded by people who have priorities,” said Kali Stetson, 16, of Orange, one of 27 new Gateway students from throughout central and north central Massachusetts who will begin classes on January 20.

During the week of January 11, the cohort attended a three-day orientation which included a “Been there, done that!” panel presentation with 12 current Gateway students and recent graduates; information sessions on technology, student support services and resources, and campus clubs and activities; campus and library tours; a viewing of the film “Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story,” and an indoor ropes course at Cottage Hill Academy in Baldwinville.

A national program that began in 2000 in Portland, OR, Gateway to College is now offered at 43 colleges in 23 states. MWCC’s Gateway to College program, now in its 10th year, was the first program established in New England and now serves nearly 100 students each year.

The program provides students with full access to campus resources and a dedicated resource specialist for academic advising counseling, tutoring and instructional support. School choice funding covers the cost of tuition and fees. Students also receive free textbooks during their first semester and are eligible to continue receiving free textbooks if they earn a grade point average of 3.0 or above.

“Students come here for a variety of reasons,” said MWCC Senior Resource Specialist Sharmese Gunn. “Some come for the environment – it’s a different environment than high school and allows them more flexibility with their time and schedules. Others come in due to medical issues, or they have been home schooled and this is their first formal classroom experience. Some students want to have that academic rigor. They enroll as a cohort and we create a community within the college for them. They take some courses together when they are starting out, then continue on with a major of their choice.”

“I really was inspired to further my education and the Gateway program provides a great opportunity,” said current student Manny Corbeil, 19, of Baldwinville. After he graduates this spring with an associate degree in liberal arts & sciences and academic certificates in business administration and small business management, he plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“I like everything about Gateway and the college experience,” said Mariah Courtemanche of Orange, who plans to become a certified nurse assistant and then continue her education to become a registered nurse. The flexibility of a college schedule allows her better balance family time with her two-year-old daughter and a part-time job, she said. “I can work and spend time with my daughter.”

This spring, MWCC will begin hosting information sessions for students interested in enrolling in the Gateway to College program for the fall 2016 semester. For more information, visit mwcc.edu/gateway or call 978-630-9248.

 

 

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Members of the Fitchburg High School Class of 2015, pictured with Principal Jeremy Roche and Victor Rojas, Assistant GEAR UP Director at MWCC, returned to the school to advise seniors on transitioning to college.

Take time to tour a variety of colleges and universities prior to enrolling. Seek out scholarships and financial aid. Once enrolled, become involved with clubs and activities to meet new friends. Beware the “freshman 15” weight gain. Learn to manage your time. Don’t skip class, and above all, study.

A dozen Fitchburg High School alumni returned to their alma mater on January 8 to offer these and other tips to high school seniors about successfully transitioning to college. The alumni, all graduates of the Class of 2015, are now pursuing a variety of academic programs at public and private colleges and universities.

The hour-long Alumni Breakfast forum, sponsored by Mount Wachusett Community College’s Division of Access & Transition and the high school’s guidance department, covered a wide range of topics including selecting a school and a major, financing an education, study habits, course load, time management, dorm life and enduring difficult roommates.

“If you’re not a morning person, I don’t recommend taking early morning classes,” advised Mariah Comeau, a student at the University of South Carolina. “Your mother is not there to wake you up.”

The forum was open to the entire senior class through MWCC’s GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), which is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The annual event was initiated more than a decade ago and is still going strong.

“It is a wonderful chance for FHS alumni from the class of 2015 to give back to FHS,” said Principal Jeremy Roche. “They provide the messages and advice about planning for college that the current seniors find most relevant and credible. This is some of the most helpful information coming directly from their peers.”

When discussing balancing classes, homework, study time and a social life, Worcester State University education major Kelsen Boyette advised the students, “manage your freedom well.”

Similar events are also taking place this month at Leominster, Athol, Ralph C. Mahar and Murdock high schools.

“This is certainly an impactful experience from which the seniors get important lessons on the transition to college,” said MWCC GEAR UP Director Andrew Goodwin.

Participating Fitchburg High School alumni were Micaela Canessa Giorello (Mount Wachusett Community College); Alicia Giannetti (Boston University); Caylin Rymph (Ashland University); Jillian Crocker (Fitchburg State University); Dasia Aldarondo (Worcester Polytechnic Institute); Hannah Hallett (UMass Amherst); Morgan Gray (UMass Amherst); Kelsen Boyette (Worcester State University); Janelle Forgues (Bridgewater State University); Mariah Comeau (University of South Carolina); Isabel Wilder (Southern New Hampshire University); and Bridget Colon (UMass Dartmouth).

 

 

 

Manufacturing Roundtable at MWCC Jan 5 2016

Senior Learning Specialist Jennifer Stephens demonstrates new advanced manufacturing equipment to lawmakers, business and community leaders during a tour of the Devens campus and meeting of the North Central Massachusetts Manufacturing Roundtable.

State lawmakers joined community and business leaders to underscore the value manufacturing brings to the region and brainstorm ways to employ more workers in this prosperous and growing field during the monthly meeting of the North Central Massachusetts Manufacturing Roundtable.

The January 5 meeting was hosted by Mount Wachusett Community College at its Devens campus, and included tours of the college’s Manufacturing Workforce Center and equipment demonstrations.

Nearly 40 people joined MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino for the dialogue, including state Senators Jennifer Flanagan, Anne Gobi and Jamie Eldridge; state Representative Jennifer Benson; Thatcher Kezer, MassDevelopment senior vice president, Devens; Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale; North Central Massachusetts Chamber President and CEO Roy Nascimento; Nashoba Valley Chamber President and CEO Melissa Fetterhoff; Greater Gardner Chamber President and CEO Jim Bellina; and representatives from the North Central Career Center, Workforce Investment Board and offices of Congressman Jim McGovern, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and state Representative Harold Naughton.

Much of the discussion focused on changing public perception about manufacturing by raising awareness about today’s clean, modern and safe facilities, diverse, well-paying jobs, employee benefits and opportunities for career growth in the industry. Attendees vowed to remain committed to fighting the stigma associated with manufacturing by enhancing collaboration with area school systems to provide career information to students, parents and educators.

“There is a greater awareness, but it hasn’t risen to the parents’ level” of recommending manufacturing as a viable, stable career field for their children, said David McKeehan, former president of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber who founded the Manufacturing Roundtable 15 years ago as a way for business and industry leaders to address mutual concerns and grow the region’s economy.

Manufacturing accounts for nearly 25 percent of the workforce in North Central Massachusetts, yet finding workers remains a critical issue, particularly among young people who are needed to fill positions being vacated by retiring baby boomers.

“Manufacturing is what built us. This is the backbone of our community,” said Senator Flanagan.

MWCC opened its Manufacturing Workforce Center in fall 2013 in response to the increasing demand for production workers. In addition to the Industry Readiness Training Program, the college offers a variety of credit and noncredit STEM programs including analytical laboratory & quality systems training, mechatronics and associate degrees in biotechnology and manufacturing technology.

This year, MWCC will continue offering free training in advanced manufacturing through its Industry Readiness Training Program. The next, six-week course begins on January 19 at the Devens campus.

The training program is made possible through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. For more information about registering, visit mwcc.edu/advancedmanufacturing or contact the campus at 978-630-9883 or creifsteck@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

 

50_Logos_4versions_2014Mount Wachusett Community College has been selected to join the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Democracy Commitment in “Citizenship Under Siege,” a national program of public forums being sponsored this spring through a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The AAC&U and The Democracy Commitment, in partnership with seven community colleges in the country, will facilitate a tapestry of public dialogues exploring who counts as citizens and who has been accorded full rights to democracy’s promises. These forums will be grounded in the nation’s history and explore creative ways to use the power of the humanities to bridge differences and build strong communities.

MWCC’s program, titled Citizenship Under Siege: Degrees of Citizenship, will take place throughout the spring semester in collaboration with local nonprofit organizations, police departments and elected officials.

Political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of 14 books including the bestselling “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” and “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” will be among the featured speakers at MWCC. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“We are proud and honored to be chosen to participate in this timely, national initiative,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Through these forums, we intend to bring the humanities out of the typical classroom and into the public sphere to engage students, staff, faculty and the greater community in deliberative dialogues around some of society’s most critical issues,” he said.

“One of the benefits of working within a community college is the ability to be adaptive and dynamic, to respond to the needs of our students quickly, yet with intention,” said Fagan Forhan, director of Experiential Learning Opportunities and Civic Engagement at MWCC and director of the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. “Very few community colleges are doing the work of deliberative dialogues, and yet our students are living with these social justice issues in a very immediate and visceral way.”

Forhan and MWCC Dean of Students Jason Zelesky will serve as project directors, working with a team of faculty, students and staff.

The NEH announced the grants in December as part of its new initiative, The Common Good: Humanities and the Public Square. The project builds upon a previous NEH-funded initiative, Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking, in which MWCC also participated.

 

Final-MWCC-Graduation-HatMount Wachusett Community College, the Athol Area YMCA and the Athol Public Library are teaming up to offer “3 for 3 College Readiness,” a series of three free workshops on the third Tuesday of the month from January through March. The sessions are geared toward adult learners of all ages.

The first session, “College Planning 101: Investing in your Future,” will take place January 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Athol Area YMCA. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn about the many benefits of earning a college degree, including career advancement, economic stability, and overall wellness.

The next session, “Financing Your Education” will take place February 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Athol Public Library. The workshop will guide participants through the process of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for grants, scholarships and student loans to cover the cost of tuition, fees and textbooks.

The third session, “Dive into College: Apply Today,” will take place March 15 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Athol Area YMCA. Students interested in enrolling in summer and fall 2016 courses will receive on-the-spot acceptance for any non-selective program. Students interested in enrolling in a selective program, which includes nursing, dental hygiene, dental assisting, physical therapist assistant and health information management, can obtain information about the application process.

Registration is not required, although reservations are recommended and can be made online at mwcc.edu/build/ymca. For information, contact the MWCC Admissions Office at admissions@mwcc.mass.edu or 978-630-9122, or visit mwcc.edu.

 

MWCC PN pinning Dec 15 2015Forty-two Mount Wachusett Community College students were welcomed into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony on December 21.

“As you graduate and take on new challenges, it is important to remember that you have already taken the initial step you needed to build a more promising future,” keynote speaker Michelle Humphrey, RN, a 2006 alumna of the program, told the graduates. “Every class you’ve taken, every lab, paper and certification you’ve earned, have all been preparing you to adapt to change and future challenges. The most powerful tool you will have is the determination to succeed, which has taken you through this program and culminated in this pinning.”

Like many of the graduates, Ms. Humphrey began her healthcare career as a nurse assistant, before becoming a licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse. After earning an associate degree in nursing, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating with honors. She was consecutively promoted to her present position, director of nursing services, for Genesis Healthcare’s Pheasant Wood Center and Keene Center in New Hampshire.

“This program brought enormous good into my life, the opportunity to build a career, financial security for my family and a job where I positively impact people every single day,” she said.

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 academic school.

Graduates Leslie Jele, Barbara Avila and Melissa Gonzalez delivered student addresses, and classmates Rebecca Beirholm, Cynthia Riley, and Terri Stewart led the lighting of the lamp and the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

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. Professors Kathleen Panagiotes, Kimberly Shea and Collene Thaxton led the ceremony, which took place at the Colonial Hotel while renovations at the MWCC’s Green Street campus continue.

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; Gardner Public Schools, Gardner Rehabilitation & Nursing Center; Golden Living Center; GVNA Health Care, Inc. – Fitchburg, Gardner and North Quabbin; Habit OPCO; Heywood Hospital MHU/GPU; Heywood Hospital Maternity Center; HealthAlliance, Leominster Birthing Center; Leominster Public School District; Life Care, the Highlands; Northeast Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic; Quabbin Valley Health Care; St. Peter-Marian Jr.-Sr. High School; St. Vincent Hospital, Seven Hills Pediatric Center; Stetson School; and Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital.

 

 

Bionostics Floyd 2Mount Wachusett Community College is recruiting adults of all ages, experience and education for training in the growing field of advanced manufacturing. Full scholarships are available for eligible students who enroll in an upcoming six-week day program, which begins on January 19 at MWCC’s Devens campus.

Manufacturing accounts for nearly 25 percent of the workforce in North Central Massachusetts, employing more than 14,000 people in the region. The demand for skilled workers continues to grow as a result of new opportunities and the retirement of older workers.

The Industry Readiness Training (IRT) Program is a short-term intensive non-credit training program developed with industry employers to prepare students for entry to mid-level jobs in the local, diverse advanced manufacturing industry. The program is designed especially for unemployed or underemployed adults, veterans and recent high school graduates. The program provides students with training in skills required for entry-level employment as technicians in manufacturing, validation, quality control, documentation, process operations and more.

Students who successfully complete the program will earn an MWCC Certificate of Completion, an OSHA 10-hour Safety Certification and the National Career Readiness Certificate, while learning about working in the fast-growing manufacturing field.

The six-week program will take place Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course includes hands-on, lecture-based material as well as self-paced KeyTrain curriculum leading to the National Career Readiness Certification.

Students must possess a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. Students will have access to staff members who will assist them with the registration process, facilitate access to support services, and help them with their search for employment when they have completed the certificate program successfully. Tutoring and job search support is also available.

The training program is made possible through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. Tuition support is provided by a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant awarded through the North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

For more information about enrolling in the training program, visit mwcc.edu/advancedmanufacturing, contact the Devens campus at 978-630-9883, or email Career Development Coach Christian Reifsteck at creifsteck@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

Police and criminal justice officials throughout the region recently provided internship opportunities for a number of Mount Wachusett Community College students majoring in criminal justice.

Student interns completed a minimum of 120 hours over a 15-week semester at different sites throughout the region including the Gardner, Clinton, Shirley and Winchendon police departments and the North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner.

“The internships are a great way for students to gain experience while making connections that can lead to jobs,” said department chair Reed Hillman, former commander of the Massachusetts State Police.
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Mary-Ann Nkongchu of Worcester, Andrew Wegiel of Leominster and Alexander Ramos Jr. of Leominster were among a class of 26 dual enrollment students completing English Composition I in December through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership at Mount Wachusett Community College.

High school and homeschooled students interested in saving money while getting a head start on their college education can choose from several upcoming courses available through the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP) at MWCC. The three-credit courses are being offered at the grant-funded price of $30, including textbooks, for the spring semester beginning January 20. 

Managed and supported by the Massachusetts departments of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education, CDEP provides opportunities for high school students to take college-level courses at a discounted price and earn credit toward their high school diploma and future college degrees.

In September, MWCC was awarded a $50,000 CDEP grant from the Department of Higher Education, which has set a goal of increasing statewide dual enrollment from 2,000 to 3,400 each year. More than 500 high school students are concurrently enrolled at MWCC throughout the college academic year. In addition to CDEP, MWCC’s academic programs are available to high school students through traditional full-time and part-time dual enrollment, the Gateway to College program and the Pathways Early College Innovation School.

CDEP provides meaningful and challenging academic experiences to qualified students who otherwise may not have access to an early college experience, and strives to increase the population of high school graduates who are college-ready. The program aims to serve students who are underrepresented in higher education, including first-generation college students and students who come from low income families.

Upcoming spring semester CDEP courses include Digital Imaging (Photoshop) on Mondays from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at MWCC’s Gardner campus; Introduction to Sociology on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Gardner campus; English Composition 1 on Tuesdays from 5:15 to 7:45 p.m. at MWCC’s Leominster campus; Introduction to Psychology on Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Leominster High School; Introduction to Criminal Justice on Wednesdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Fitchburg High School; Strategic Management on Thursdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School; and Introduction to Psychology on Thursdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m., also at Monty Tech.

New CDEP students are required to attend a mandatory orientation with completed dual enrollment application and transcript. Parents or guardians are encouraged to attend. Orientation sessions will take place Tuesday, Dec. 29 from 2 to 3 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 7 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the North Café at MWCC’s Gardner campus, and Thursday, Jan. 14 from 6 to 7 p.m. at MWCC’s Leominster campus.

All students must meet Accuplacer/Placement requirements, attend or have attended a dual enrollment orientation session, complete a dual enrollment application, provide a high school transcript and payment.

Alexander Ramos Jr. of Leominster said he enrolls in dual enrollment courses to get a head start on his career goal of becoming an attorney. “I want to earn college credit while in high school and I want to challenge myself,” he said.

For more information about enrolling in CDEP courses, contact Melissa Bourque-Silva at m_bourque@mwcc.mass.edu or the Division of Access & Transition at 978-630-9248. Additional information about dual enrollment programs can be found online at mwcc.edu/access.

 

ECE alumni event Nov 2015MWCC’s Early Childhood Education program recently hosted its fourth annual alumni event at the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education. It was an evening full of friendship, inspiration, and networking. More than 80 current students, faculty, staff, Garrison teachers, alumni and their families attended the Seuss-inspired event.

Alumni events, such as this one, are an important opportunity for current students to make connections with alum who may work in the field.

“These connections not only provide career opportunities but more importantly, set the foundation for a supportive network” said current student Andrea Bartlett.

Emily Wuoti, a December graduate and Leadership in Early Childhood Education student, spearheaded this year’s event. “I wanted to create an event to help inspire current students who are new or may be doubtful that this is the right field for them.” She invited alumni to share their success stories about their journeys and offer advice to current students who may not know where their journey will take them.

This particular event posed a question to all who were involved: Where do you see yourself going from here?

“This was a great opportunity to really think about goals and plans” said current student Kelly Winship.

Additionally, Student Life Coordinator Sandy Arsenault, a long-time friend of the Early Education Club, was honored at the event.

MWCC Early Childhood Education faculty Dr. Rosanne Morel, Dr. Maryann Kane and Professor Maureen Provost “are so very proud of the exceptional work, leadership, professionalism and passion” Emily exhibited throughout her time at Mount Wachusett Community College, Professor Provost said. “She exemplifies the expectations we have for our students and we are looking forward to seeing ‘the places SHE will go’ as she continues her journey. Children and families are fortunate indeed to have Emily in the field.”

- Emily Wuoti and Maureen Provost