Bob Mayer (right) discusses the services available at the Mount Wachusett Community College Veteran Success Center with Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services Francisco Ureña. Mayer helped organize the upcoming Veteran’s Resource Fair that will help connect veterans with various organizations and services on June 20.

Mount Wachusett Community College will be hosting a free Veteran’s Resource Fair with over 20 organizations on Tuesday, June 20 in an effort to connect veterans and their families with services.

The fair is a gathering of companies, organizations and nonprofits that provide services to local veterans and their families. While it takes place at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Gardner Campus from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 20, it is not limited to veteran educational matters. According to MWCC’s Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer, whether someone is looking to change careers, overcome a setback or working just to get by, there will likely be a service that can help at this fair.

“This free resource fair only requires a small amount of time,” said Mayer. “The time invested could yield dividends over a lifetime.”

Some of the expected organizations include the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center, the North Quabbin Trail Association, Shoulder to Shoulder, Mass One-Stop Career Center, North Central Mass Workforce Investment Board, SAVE of the Massachusetts Department of Veteran Services, VA Vet Centers, VA MOVE, and VA VITAL. The organizations will cover topics including family retreats, legal services, housing and homeownership, financial education and assistance, educational benefits and disability claims.

Light refreshments will be served and registration is encouraged at

Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene graduates celebrate following a dental pinning ceremony in May welcoming them into the dental field.

Mount Wachusett Community College will host a hands-on demonstration of dental technology and techniques during a Dental Showcase on Thursday, June 15.

The event will provide an opportunity for visitors to explore whether a career in the dental field, through a degree in Dental Assisting or Dental Hygiene, is right for them. This will take place through a series of hands-on, interactive experience from 3 to 5 p.m. at MWCC’s Fitchburg Campus at 326 Nichols Road in Fitchburg.

Among the hands-on activities will be demonstrations of digital dental impressions and digital radiology. Visitors will also be able to attend an information session at 3:15 p.m., talk to current students and faculty, tour the campus and learn about the admissions process. Also involved in the event are dental companies Henry Schein, Dexis Dental and CrossTex.

This event is designed to give visitors a feel for the latest technology in the high-demand dental field, said MWCC’s Chair of Dental Education Programs Cindy Cadoret, and allow people to explore whether a career as a dental assistant or hygienist could be a good fit for them.

“I get calls every week from dental offices asking me to post a job and let alumni know that there are job opportunities,” said Cadoret.

Attendees are encouraged to RSVP by registering online at, emailing or calling 978-630-9110.

At last year’s Mount Wachusett Community College Phi Theta Kappa Character Breakfast, children in costume were able to interact with some of their favorite characters.

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting a breakfast filled with everyone’s favorite characters from fairy tales, cartoons and beyond on Saturday, April 22 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Gardner campus.

Participants can enjoy a hot breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and beverages with family, friends and their favorite characters at the North Cafe. Costumes are encouraged.

Admission is $7 for ages 12 and over, $5 for ages 2 to 11, and free for infants age one and under. Proceeds will be used to support hunger alleviation programs in North Central Massachusetts.

Tickets can be purchased at the event or ahead of time at the Senator Stephen M. Brewer Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement (Room 152). For more information, contact Jana Murphy at or 978-630-9255.

President James Vander Hooven, Ed. D. talks with Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise Editor Charlie St. Amand at the North Central Chamber of Commerce’s Good Morning Breakfast Thursday.

Mount Wachusett Community College President James Vander Hooven, Ed. D., stressed the vital nature of the connection between the business community and MWCC at the North Central Chamber of Commerce’s Good Morning Breakfast Thursday.

“Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve had conversations with folks who are intimately aware of what is going on at the Mount and they want to be involved,” said President Vander Hooven. “It’s my hope that we can continue to build on that.”

During a question and answer discussion with Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise Editor Charlie St. Amand, President Vander Hooven reinforced his commitment to the businesses in the 29 communities served by the Mount. The college has a connection with and support of its communities that is unmatched in the United States, he said, and this puts the college in a position to be responsive to community and business needs.

This can be done in many ways, according to President Vander Hooven, but starts by being at the table with local businesses and working through not only the needs they know but those they haven’t event anticipated yet. President Vander Hooven explained that it is through these partnerships that the future story of MWCC will be written.

“Through innovation and the partnerships we can build with everyone in this room, we will tell our story in the workplace,” he said. “We are going to be preparing students for transfer or other degrees, but it’s also just as important to be providing the skills to them that our employers need and I think that is where the story is going to be told.”

Although he will be reaching out to the business community, President Vander Hooven invited those in the audience to reach out and engage the opportunities at the college.

Diane Gilliam Fisher will read excerpts from her book “Kettle Bottom” on April, 6.

Mount Wachusett Community College will host nationally acclaimed poet and author Diane Gilliam Fisher for a reading of selections from her book “Kettle Bottom” on April, 6.

“When Diane Gilliam Fisher reads from “Kettle Bottom,” she performs the poetry and resurrects the poignant voices of the past with an undeniable authenticity,” said MWCC English Professor Lorie Donahue who helped organize the reading. “She often intersperses the readings with details regarding the development of the work, allowing the audience a deeper understanding of her process. With quiet power and intensity, she really holds onto the room.”

“Kettle Bottom” is Fisher’s award-winning book of poetry that explores the West Virginia Mine Wars from the perspectives of those who lived and worked in the coal camps from 1920 to 1921. “Kettle Bottom” has won several prizes, including a Pushcart Prize and the Ohioana Library Association Book of the Year in Poetry. Gilliam also won the 2008 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing.

In her review of “Kettle Bottom,” Catherine MacDonald said, “Set in 1920–21, a period of violent unrest known as the West Virginia Mine Wars, the poems in Kettle Bottom combine compelling narratives with the charged, heightened language of lyric poetry. It is an unforgettable combination, one that characterizes the very best contemporary verse.”

The reading at Mount Wachusett Community College will take place on April 6 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the North Café. An additional reading will take place later that night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Athol Public Library at 568 Main Street.

Gilliam grew up in Columbus, Ohio, daughter of parents who were part of the post-war Appalachian outmigration, from Mingo County West Virginia and Johnson County Kentucky. She earned a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Ohio State and an MFA from Warren Wilson. Gilliam is the recipient of the 2013 Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation.

She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she works as a poet and quilter. She is currently working on two projects, supported by her two-year, $50,000 Gift of Freedom Award: a collection of poems titled “The Blackbirds Too,” and a Young Adult novel in poems that continues the voices of female characters from Kettle Bottom.

The poetry reading is part of the college’s Imagining Work humanities project from the MWCC Humanities Initiative that is funded through a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant as well as $1 million in funds from the MWCC Foundation.

The purpose of the endowment is to support collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities and to engage MWCC students and residents in the North Central Massachusetts region in studies and discussions of enduring themes and ideas from the world’s rich cultural and intellectual traditions. The endowment will fund common annual themes to be integrated across campus curricula and woven into campus and community humanities programming.

Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino addresses the crowd during a naturalization ceremony, encouraging them to get involved in their communities.

Mount Wachusett Community College served as the backdrop welcoming 271 Massachusetts residents from 58 different countries as new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony on March 15 in the Fine Arts theatre.

The ceremony was carried out by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The Honorable Timothy S. Hillman, United States District Judge, presided over the ceremonies with the clerk of the court administering the Oath of Allegiance to America’s newest citizens.

As the event began, Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino addressed the soon-to-be citizens as the proceedings got underway. He encouraged those being nationalized to get involved, reminding them that the country was built by immigrants who strove for change and engaged actively in governing a new country.

“Congratulations to all of you who are about to become a citizen of the United States of America,” said Asquino who explained what it meant to be a citizen. “It is being engaged, voting, taking care of one another, your neighbors and your citizens … as you become citizens and leave us today make our democracy better than it is now.”

Senator Stephen Brewer reminded those gathered of the commitment the United States has made to immigrants; offering a promise of welcome. To these new citizens being welcomed, he emphasized the refrain of E Pluribus Unum – out of many one – that epitomizes the melting pot that is the United States.

“You become a part of the greatest country in the world and we welcome you,” Senator Brewer told the gathered crowd.

Gardner Mayor Mark P. Hawke took a somewhat lighter tone as he noted that although the crowd represented members of 64 communities, none of those gathered to become citizens were from Gardner. He spoke of Gardner’s history as a location for immigrants and the positive impact they had on the area’s culture and economy before encouraging those at the ceremony to become a part of the future of the city.

“We do have a rich history of immigrants in the city and I seriously do hope you consider the city of Gardner if you ever consider relocating in the future,” said Mayor Hawke to laughter from the audience.

On Wednesday, 271 people took the Oath of Allegiance at Mount Wachusett Community College during a naturalization ceremony.

The real stars of the event were the 271 citizenship candidates who originated from the following 58 countries: Albania, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russia, Senegal, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

The candidates reside in the following Massachusetts cities and towns: Acton, Ashburnham, Auburn, Bedford, Billerica, Boston, Boxford, Bradford, Burlington, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Clinton, Concord, Danvers, Dracut, Dudley, Fitchburg, Georgetown, Gloucester, Greenfield, Groton, Haverhill, Holden, Holyoke, Hudson, Lancaster, Lawrence, Leominster, Littleton, Lowell, Manchester, Marlborough, Maynard, Methuen, Middleton, Newburyport, North Adams, North Andover, North Billerica, North Oxford, Palmer, Paxton, Pepperell, Petersham, Pittsfield, Reading, Salisbury, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Southbridge, Springfield, Sudbury, Templeton, Tewksbury, Webster, Wenham, West Springfield, Westborough, Westfield, Westford, Westminster, Wilmington, Winchendon, and Worcester.

As he closed the ceremony, Judge Hillman again encouraged the new citizens to make use of their newfound rights and become involved.

“I am proud to call each and every one of you a fellow American,” said Judge Hillman. “Perhaps you or one of the children in this room today, hopefully more than one, will become a great leader of this nation.”

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit

Project Healthcare Spring Orientation attendees stand around Worcester Commissioner of Health and Human Services Dr. Matilde Castiel after her keynote address Friday.

The spring orientation for Project Healthcare, a program that is working to diversify the health care workforce, took place on Friday, March 10 with a keynote address from Worcester Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr. Matilde Castiel to over 100 attendees.

“A degree in medicine means you can do a whole lot of other things,” said Castiel who has a medical degree but has founded nonprofits including the Hector Reyes House as well as working in an emergency room and as a professor. “If you feel that there is something in our community that needs to be changed, you can change it.”

In her current role, Castiel oversees the divisions of Public Health, Youth Services, Human Rights and Disabilities, Veterans Affairs, and Elder Affairs, and Homelessness along with advancing important new initiatives that fall under the scope of youth violence and the current opioid crisis.

The orientation at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Leominster on Friday was for a program with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minority and disadvantaged health care providers by creating a high school to college pipeline of students who plan to enter the health care field.

“Project Healthcare aims to fulfill a regional and national need to create a more diverse and culturally competent health care workforce. Having culturally competent workers will improve patient care and health outcomes by decreasing racial and ethnic inequities in the health care system,” said Melissa Bourque-Silva, Director of the National Workforce Diversity Pipeline at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Project Healthcare is a partnership between Mount Wachusett Community College and Leominster High School, Fitchburg High School, and the Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation; and is designed to recruit 120 9th and 10th graders with an interest in health care professions to enter a Workforce Diversity Pipeline program. This program is designed with a scaffolding approach, so the students can attain a credential to enter the healthcare field at a young age, which will then lead into a healthcare certificate program, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and beyond, according to Bourque-Silva.

The program aims to reduce student debt through dual enrollment coursework; while simultaneously giving students an advantage for admission into competitive healthcare undergraduate programs here at MWCC and elsewhere. The program offers counseling, coaching, field trips, guest speakers, and dual enrollment courses for its members until the grant ends in 2020. This program is funded through a federal grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Minority Health.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will deliver the keynote address during Mount Wachusett Community College’s Commencement on Wednesday, May 17.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will deliver the keynote address during Mount Wachusett Community College’s Commencement on Wednesday, May 17.

“We are delighted to welcome Attorney General Maura Healey to our campus as this year’s Commencement speaker,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Her passion and ongoing work for justice for residents across the state aligns with our ongoing commitment to civic learning and fostering community engagement among our students. AG Healey is an outstanding example of how this year’s graduates can continue to be active members of their communities and greater society as they transition out of their time here at Mount Wachusett Community College.”

“I’m honored that President Asquino has invited me to speak at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Commencement this spring,” said AG Healey. “MWCC has a rich legacy spanning over 50 years as a school that prepares young adults to lead a life focused on serving a community that’s bigger than themselves. As your Attorney General, I’m proud to be speaking at a school that places such high value on ensuring that its graduates give back to their communities.”

Healey was sworn in as Attorney General on January 21, 2015. Since taking office, she has tackled issues touching the lives of residents across Massachusetts including the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, escalating health care costs, workers’ rights and student loan costs. She has focused on strengthening consumer protections and on improving our criminal justice system.

Prior to her election, Healey helped lead the Attorney General’s Office as head of the Civil Rights Division and as Chief of the Public Protection and Business & Labor Bureaus. Healey graduated from Harvard College in 1992 and was captain of the women’s basketball team. She played professional basketball in Europe before returning to Massachusetts to attend Northeastern University School of Law. Early in her career, Healey clerked for Judge David Mazzone in the United States District Court in Massachusetts. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office in 2007, Healey was a junior partner at the international law firm Wilmer Hale (formerly Hale and Dorr), where she represented clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical, medical device, software, energy, biotechnology and professional sports sectors. She is a former Special Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County, where she tried drug, assault, domestic violence and motor vehicle cases.

Writer and Director Paul Dalio will be the keynote speaker at the Mental Health Awareness Conference on march 21.

In a continued effort to raise awareness about mental health and wellness, Mount Wachusett Community College and the SHINE Initiative will present the fourth Mental Health Awareness Conference. This year’s keynote speaker will be writer and director Paul Dalio who will talk about his experience with and managing bipolar and how it influenced his film “Touched with Fire”.

The free conference will take place Tuesday, March 21 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Leominster. Each year, approximately one in five Americans suffer from some mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and the conference is designed to shine a light on mental illness.

“Each and every time we speak to a child, teen, young adult, and their families and caregivers, we move the needle that much closer to erasing the stigma that has overshadowed a true understanding and acceptance of mental illness for what it truly is – an illness,” said Paul Richard, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, whose mission is to promote the mental wellness of children and young adults. “The collaboration and friendship we’ve enjoyed with Mount Wachusett Community College provides not only hope, but true confidence, that our society is on the cusp of recognizing mental illness – and mental wellness – as mainstream health issues.”

Writer, director and composer Paul Dalio will be the featured speaker at the conference. The conference will also include a panel presentation and luncheon. Following the presentations, Mount Wachusett Community College nursing students will participate in QPR (question, persuade, refer) suicide prevention training. Seating is limited, and reservations are required.

“Mental health is a topic that must be tackled through direct and substantial conversations in our schools, in our workplaces and in our homes,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This is an issue that touches everyone and has a direct impact on learning, employment and living a fulfilling life. We are honored to be involved again in presenting this important conference in conjunction with the SHINE Initiative.”

Dalio’s feature film, “Touched with Fire,” stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby and has been acclaimed by critic Stephen Holden of the New York Times as “an extraordinarily sensitive, nonjudgmental exploration of bipolar disorder and creativity.” It draws inspiration from Dalio’s bipolar diagnosis and experiences dealing with his illness and artistic nature. Dalio has been outspoken about his hospitalization and treatment while being a voice for the contributions of people diagnosed as bipolar; talking about the struggle to be artistic and emotional while managing his illness.

The panel speakers will include Dr. Judson Brewer, Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School in Worcester; Dr. Barrie Baker Director of Clinical Activities at Tufts Health Public Plans; and Senator Jennifer Flanagan Massachusetts State Senator for Worcester & Middlesex Districts.

For more information and to register for the conference, contact MWCC’s Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development at 978-630-9525 or online at

Steve Alves is the director and producer of the film “Food for Change.”

The director of the movie “Food for Change” will screen portions of his film and facilitate a discussion about the positive impacts of community involvement as well as his educational beginnings at a community college on March 2 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

“I want to encourage students and the general public to attend this screening. This film is a story of what can be done when people come together and are engaged with their community, which aligns with Mount Wachusett Community College’s ongoing commitment to service learning and volunteerism,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino.

“Food for Change” is a documentary film focusing on food co-ops as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture. The project began when filmmaker and co-op member Steve Alves was asked to make a film for the Franklin Community Co-op, located in Greenfield, Massachusetts. What resulted is a film detailing the history of co-ops and their influence.

At the free screening, Alves will show clips from the film as a means to spur discussion, stressing the impact that students can have if they work hard for their communities.

“As a group, we can come together to create pantries, create co-ops and community gardens and do a lot to not just deal with the food issues but deal with the structural issues that keep us away from each other and don’t let us become aware, active citizens,” Alves said.

But Alves’ appearance will not just be about the impact that students can have on their communities, but on their own lives. As a former community college student himself, Alves plans to discuss how this prepared him to be a film maker and how students can be bold and successful even if they do not have a lot of resources.

“I want to hold myself up as an example to the students of how I went into film making and by extension if you have a drive and a plan… you can go for it,” Alves said.

The screening and discussion will take place on Thursday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. in the MWCC multi-purpose room. The public is encouraged to attend. The presentation is funded in part by Mass Humanities.