Frankenstein image - JPG

An image of Frankenstein’s creature created by Mount Wachusett Community College Graphic and Interactive Design alumnus Dylan Safford.

This month, the Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project begins its second year with “Myths, Monsters, and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy,” an in-depth look at Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, and its relevance in today’s world.Throughout the year, free events will take place at the college’s Gardner campus and in the community at public libraries and other venues. The MWCC Humanities Project is funded through a matching $500,000 grant the college received from the National Endowment for the Humanities to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum throughout North Central Massachusetts.

Like many great works of science fiction, Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, explores what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world. Published nearly 200 years ago when the author was just 20 years old, the novel tells the tale about young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in a scientific experiment.

The impact of Shelley’s novel has prevailed into the modern era, spawning countless interpretations, retellings, and inspirations, yet it bears little resemblance to the Hollywood adaptions that have dominated popular culture for decades, said Professor Michelle Valois, the coordinator of the Humanities Project.

“If, when you think Frankenstein, you think only of a grotesquely disfigured giant of a man who grunts and groans, then you only know half the story,” Valois said. “Though a work of the imagination, Mary Shelley’s novel offers an approach to these philosophical and ethical questions: Can science go too far? What does it mean to play God? How do we tolerate difference? Who are the real monsters?”

Fall events begin with a book discussion on Shelley’s Frankenstein, led by MWCC English Professors Michelle Valois, Susan Blake and Lorie Donahue, on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the college’s LaChance Library.

A panel presentation, “Frankenscience? The Myths and Realities of Contemporary Science,” will take place Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner. Panelists include Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology/biomanufacturing program, and MWCC biology professors Thomas Montagno, Carrie Arnold and Heather Conn.

On Oct. 20, Fitchburg State University film and English Professor Joseph Moser will present “Monsters on the Big Screen.” The lecture will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in MWCC’s North Café.

Members of the college community will participate in A Halloween Hike for the Humanities, a fundraiser for the matching NEH grant, on Saturday, Oct. 31 at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton.

Events continue on November 5 with a screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in MWCC’s North Cafe; a lecture “Mary Shelley: The Woman Behind the Monster,” with Tufts University Professor Sonia Hofkosh on Nov. 12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the Leominster Public Library; and a brown bag lunch discussion,What Makes a Monster?” on Nov. 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at MWCC’s Gardner campus, room 345.

Spring semester events include “Historical Perspectives on Frankenstein” with Mount Holyoke Professor Robert Schwartz at MWCC’s Gardner campus; a presentation at the Fitchburg Art Museum by Elizabeth Young, author of Black Frankenstein: the Making of an American Metaphor; a Monster Movie Marathon at the Leominster Public Library featuring James Whales 1931 classic Frankenstein and Kenneth Branagh’s  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; a lecture, “Girls and Their Ghost Stories: Feminism, Philosophy and Frankenstein,” at the Athol Public Library; and a film screening of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For more information visit



Fall Fest Welcome & BBQ

August 25, 2015

The Fall Fest Welcome & Barbecue will take place Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Gardner campus. Entertainment will be provided by Grupo Fantasia in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Enjoy the big chair photos, henna tattoos, caricatures, cotton candy, and other activities, as well as a free barbecue and student club expo beginning at 12:30. The event is sponsored by the Student Life office, CATS (Campus Activities Team for Students) and the Student Government Association and is open to all MWCC students, faculty and staff.

Orientation sessions for new and transfer students will take place prior to the start of the new academic year. Orientation for evening students will be held at the Gardner campus on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the North Cafe. A family and support network orientation will take place evening at 6 p.m. in the library. Orientation for day students will take place Tuesday, Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fitness & Wellness Center.

In addition, MWCC will host a meeting for student veterans on Tuesday Sept. 1 at 10:30 a.m. in the Lion’s Den Student Center. Information about campus and community resources, the Veterans Group and the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success will be available. Reservations to the veterans’ brunch are required and may be made by calling 978-630-9408.

Fall 2015 Film Series

August 25, 2015

The fall 2015 Film Series, presented by MWCC’s Student Life office, kicks off on Sept. 23 with the film, Pride. Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984. The National Union of Mindeworkers was reluctant to accept the group’s support due to the union’s public relations worries about being openly associated with a gay group, so the activists instead took their donations directly to Onllwyn, a small mining village in Wales, resulting in an alliance between the two communities.

The fall film series will continue with Admissions on Sept. 29; To Write Love on Her Arms on Oct. 7; Hunting Ground on Oct. 21; Frankenstein on Oct. 9; We Shall Remain on Nov. 4; and Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey on Nov. 25.

All films begin at 12:30 p.m. in the North Cafe and are free and open to the public.

Final-MWCC-Graduation-HatNationally, adults age 25 and over make up the fastest growing demographic of students enrolling in college, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. To assist area residents interested in achieving a college degree, Mount Wachusett Community College is offering a free, new program in August at its main campus in Gardner.

MWCC’s Adult College Experience (ACE) program will feature a variety of workshops designed to guide adult learners through the application, financial aid and course selection processes and provide information about commonly used technology, managing coursework and balancing school with work and family life. All participants attending the first session will receive a free gift, and participants attending all four workshops will be eligible to win a free, three-credit course.

“Over the past 23 years, I’ve had several conversations with adults about attending college,” said Missi Sargent, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at MWCC, and one of coordinators of the new program. “I have heard the anxiety and uncertainty in their voices. Some who haven’t been to school since high school worry that it’s been too long, and many feel they are just too busy to be able to commit to school or our concerned about the cost. I once felt the same way, too,” said Sargent, who overcame those doubts and now holds an associate degree in general studies, and a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in adult and higher education administration.

“I am here to say, you CAN do it and it IS worth it. Take it one step at a time, meet one goal at a time and I assure you, you will get there.”

MWCC’s four-session ACE program, geared toward adult learners age 24 and above, will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 4 from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. with the workshop, “Adult Roadmap to College.” A panel of MWCC alumni who returned to college as adults balancing work, family and studies will share their stories and answer questions. Participants will receive assistance completing their MWCC application, learn how to navigate the Blackboard online learning system and set up computer files for class, and use technology and other tools to make the college journey easier.

“College Survival 101” will take place Tuesday, August 11, from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Participants will receive assistance completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, learn about preparing for the writing portion of the college placement test, and learn about the expectations of college writing classes. Additional topics during this session will focus on overcoming math anxiety, following a course syllabus, and the variety of student learning styles.

The session, “Time to Enroll,” will take place Saturday, August 22 from 9 a.m. to noon. Working with an advisor, participants will develop an academic plan, explore financial aid and payment options and enroll in classes.

The series will conclude on Tuesday, Aug. 25 with the session “Ready, Set, Go!” from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Newly enrolled students will receive assistance reviewing and understanding the components of their financial aid package, including knowing the difference between loans, grants, scholarships and work study aid. The session will end with a pizza party celebration.

Each year, millions of adult students return to college to earn a degree or academic certificate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment of students age 25 and above increased by 42 percent between 2000 and 2010 and is predicted to increase by another 20 percent by 2020. In comparison, enrollment of college students age 24 and under increased by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010, and is expected to increase 11 percent by 2020.

To register for MWCC’s free ACE program, contact the admissions office at 978-630-9110 or email Registration can also be completed online at


Information Sessions

June 30, 2015

Come learn about all of the academic programs, career preparation and financial aid opportunities available at MWCC. The college offer information sessions every Wednesday night from 6 to 7 p.m. on the Leominster Campus, 100 Erdman Way. These events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

MWCC is hosting an open house featuring “on the spot” acceptance on Thursday, June 18 at 4:30 p.m. at its main campus in Gardner.

Prospective students will have the opportunity to speak with academic advisors, explore academic programs and bachelor’s degree transfer options, learn about the college’s wide range of student support students, and receive assistance filing for financial aid and a transcript evaluation for transferable coursework.

Registration is recommended and can be made online at or contacting the admissions off at 978-630-0110 or

MWCC offers more than 70 associates degree and academic certificate program options, as well as dual enrollment programs for teenagers, transfer agreements with public and private colleges and universities, workforce development training, adult basic education, and preparation for the HiSet high school equivalency exam. For more information, visit


MWCC’s 42nd Annual Nurse Pinning Ceremony will take place Thursday, May 21 at 5 p.m. in the Fitness & Wellness Center. Students will be welcomed into the profession by having the program’s nursing pin fastened to their lapels by a fellow nurse, a family member, a friend, an alumnus of the program, or a faculty member.

MWCC’s 50th Commencement will take place Wednesday, May 20 at 6 p.m. in the Fitness & Wellness Center. Gardner native Kevin Berg, Vice President of Production for the CBS Network in L.A., will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate of Humanities and the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award. This year’s Service Above Self Award will be presented to James O. Garrison, who will also receive an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters. The Phi Theta Kappa honor society is conducting its 12th annual “Project Graduation” food drive. All graduates and their guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to the rehearsal or ceremony, which will be donated to the Gardner Community Action Council, the Winchendon Community Action Council, and the Students SOS office.

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.