General News

Writer and Director Paul Dalio speaks with Paul Richard, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, during a question and answer session.

A packed room listened to stories of personal struggles and strength on Tuesday at the fourth Mental Health Awareness Conference held by Mount Wachusett Community College and the SHINE Initiative.

In a continued effort to raise awareness about mental health and wellness, the two groups brought together four speakers to discuss their personal experiences with mental health and addiction. 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.

During his welcome address, Mount Wachusett Community College President James Vander Hooven, Ed.D., recognized the school’s students in the audience, asking them to stand. This group included over 100 nursing students. He told the gathered students that this year’s graduation will be moving for him because of the cumulative good that MWCC’s graduates will be doing in their communities.

“You will be saving lives and I hope you recognize that. I hope you recognize and value that as much as I do,” he said.

President Vander Hooven then talked about his experience realizing that asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness. He said that while he has had the benefit of supportive family and friends, he cannot control the amount of support those at the school have amongst their families, friends or communities. But what he can do, he said, is pledge to support those in the MWCC community as they seek the assistance they need.

“It took me a long time to get to a point where I would consistently seek help when I experienced my own symptoms of depression,” said President Vander Hooven. “I know that what we experience does not define us.”

This year’s keynote speaker was writer and director Paul Dalio who talked about his experience managing bipolar and how it influenced his film “Touched with Fire”. He spoke about the difficulty in managing bipolar and the importance of letting people know that even though they have been diagnosed and life will change, with the right care they will be able to tap into their creativity while avoiding the detrimental cycle of mania.

“You can be stable and you can have the creativity and the fire. And I am definitely more stable than I was. I’m much more creative now than I was before bipolar,” said Dalio to Paul Richard, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, during a question and answer session. “Part of it is you live through the depth of life and it enriches your perspective.”

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.

In addition to Dalio, a trio of speakers discussed everything from living with mental illness, new treatments for addiction and the governmental challenges in helping to break the cycle of addiction.

Dr. Judson Brewer, Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School in Worcester talked about his mindfulness research and how he has turned this towards helping people break the cycles of cigarette smoking and emotional eating. By having people be mindful of why they are being urged to do something such as smoking, it is possible to have them break the cycle as they examine that the behavior will not solve their actual concerns, he said.

“There’s an urge for the pleasant to continue and the unpleasant to go away. That leads to a behavior,” said Dr. Brewer. “If we can understand mechanistically what is happening, we can work with things … and drive a wedge between the urge to act and the action.”

Dr. Barrie Baker, Director of Clinical Activities at Tufts Health Public Plans, discussed her own struggles with what has been classified as bipolar even though she has never had a manic episode. She has been lucky to have support when she needed it, she said, and it is important to extend that support to others going through mental health challenges.

“We as medical professionals can’t even talk about it amongst ourselves,” she said explaining that we all need to do our part to break the stigma against mental illness. “I’m damn good at my job. I’m really good but no one would have given me the chance. You can function. You can do your job. You can be a productive member of society.”

Massachusetts State Senator for Worcester & Middlesex Districts Jennifer Flanagan spoke about the ongoing struggle to get Massachusetts residents treatment for addiction, specifically focusing on the fight against opioids, heroin and fentanyl. These drugs are ripping through our communities, she said, and it often takes people over five times through rehab to finally get clean. She addressed the numerous nursing students from Mount Wachusett in attendance, urging them to work with the addicts they will encounter as they undertake the long journey to sobriety.

“You are all going to see it. And you are probably not going to know what to do about it. But stick with them,” Flanagan said.

Following the presentation, Mount Wachusett Community College nursing students participated in QPR (question, persuade, refer) suicide prevention training.

President James Vander Hooven.

James Vander Hooven, Ed.D., has officially stepped into his role as the third president of Mount Wachusett Community College since the school was founded in 1963.

“MWCC has a long history serving as an integral part of the communities of North Central Massachusetts and responds to the region’s ever-evolving needs in order to best serve our students. We plan to build upon that history and create an equally bright and important future for this college at its Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner and Leominster locations,” said President Vander Hooven. “We have an opportunity not only to educate, but to be a conduit for the personal transformation and growth of our students and the ongoing growth of our communities.”

President Vander Hooven has been on campus since February, which allowed for a transition period with Dr. Daniel M. Asquino who announced his retirement last year and served as president at MWCC for over 30 years. President Vander Hooven used this transition time to meet with students, faculty, staff and community members and said he looks forward to continuing the process.

“I have met faculty who strive every day to impart knowledge and support students as well as staff who work tirelessly towards everyone’s success in so many ways. During this time, I have also been able to meet some of our students who persevere in ways both large and small to better themselves through education and personal growth,” said Vander Hooven.

President Vander Hooven has been committed to access and opportunity to higher education since first stepping into a nontraditional classroom, as an instructor, where he was the youngest person in the group. At that point, he began focusing his energy and time on increasing opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds.

As the president of Tohono O’odham Community College in Tucson, Arizona, President Vander Hooven successfully raised more than $9 million for the construction of the college’s new main campus. He has also served as Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, New Hampshire, and Regional Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at National American University in Denver, Colorado.

President Vander Hooven attained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Ohio State University. He received his Master of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Maine, where he focused on student access. His dissertation was titled, “Lessons From Success: The Experience of Women Who Successfully Completed an Associate Degree While Parenting Children.”

He lives in Keene, New Hampshire.

Membership to the Mount Wachusett Community College Fitness and Wellness Center through the new Veterans Move program includes classes.

The Mount Wachusett Community College Fitness and Wellness Center is now offering a new program called Veterans Move that provides veterans and their spouses full memberships at the cost of $15 per month when obtained on a physician’s referral.
The program came directly from a need in the community, with many physicians seeking an affordable facility in North Central Massachusetts for their patients, said Director of the Fitness & Wellness Center Jared Swerzenski. Before this, many veterans have been making use of the facility in Bedford, which is almost an hour away, he said.
“When I was approached with the opportunity to create this program, I thought it would be a great partnership. Many of these veterans are suffering from significant joint and knee ailments and will be able to use the pool and equipment to help with rehabilitation,” said Swerzenski. “Mount Wachusett Community College has created such a positive environment for veterans with the school’s varied programming and support systems so this program is a natural fit for the MWCC Fitness Center.”
MWCC Fitness and Wellness Center supports veterans in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The facility includes a six-lane, Olympic sized swimming pool, three full-size indoor basketball courts, two regulation racquetball courts and state-of-the-art weight training/cardiovascular equipment. In addition, the center offers more than 90 free group fitness classes a week, which include Zumba, Yoga, Group Active, Group Groove, Group Power, SilverSneakers and much more, all led by certified instructors and trainers.

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 www.uscis.gov.

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.

Senator Brewer cuts through the red tape ribbon at the naming ceremony for the Senator Stephen M. Brewer Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. Also pictured from left to right are MWCC Graduate John Day, MWCC Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado-Gomez, his wife Valerie, MWCC President Dr. Daniel M. Asquino, Brewer’s sister-in-law and brother, the Center’s Director Shelley Errington Nicholson and MWCC Student Jana Murphy.

The Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement at Mount Wachusett Community College was named in honor of Senator Stephen M. Brewer on Tuesday, March 7.

The dedication celebration highlighted the impact the Senator had during his decades of civil service in his numerous roles that culminated with his position as the influential Chair of the Commonwealth’s Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The ceremony also detailed the ongoing work of the Center that supports the civic engagement of over 2,800 students at the college with more than 400 community organizations. As a result of the Center, every year MWCC students provide an average of 135,000 hours of service to the community for an economic impact of $3.63 million.

The commitment to civic service and engagement from both Senator Brewer and The Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement make the naming of the center in the senator’s honor an ideal match, said MWCC President Dr. Daniel M. Asquino.

“One can’t become a truly conscious member of society in a democracy unless one has an appreciation for the essence of democracy. That is engagement, compassion, caring, involvement and sacrifice for the common good. These are the qualities epitomized by Senator Stephan Brewer and that is why we are here today,” said Asquino.

In attendance were a number of governmental representatives, some of whom took the stage to speak about Senator Brewer’s wide-ranging influence, commitment to the entire Commonwealth and personal interactions that defined his time in the legislature. The various officials highlighted the Senator’s commitment to truly serve – whether that meant putting large budgetary changes into real terms describing how people would be impacted by cuts or being there when tragedy struck.

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan said Senator Brewer epitomizes public service, while Fitchburg Mayor Steven DiNatale spoke to the Senator fundamentally being a good person and State Representative Jonathan Zlotnik said that the Brewer name is perfect for the Center.

“We have all learned so, so much from Senator Brewer throughout the years,” said Senator Anne Gobi who filled his seat after his retirement. “He took to heart those words of Hubert Humphrey that we take care of those in the dawn of life, in the twilight of life and in the shadows of life. And for the students who are going to benefit from being at this center, if you can keep those things in mind you will pay the right homage to this gentleman right here.”

In addition to those that knew the Senator during his career, three speakers from the college talked about the ongoing influence of the Center and the Senator. Jasson Alvarado-Gomez, Student Trustee at Mount Wachusett Community College, told the story of how a comment the Senator made to him one day, saying that he would be a senator himself someday, in the halls of the school opened his eyes to the vast possibilities the future held.

“I want to tell you something. Someday, when I become a senator, I am going to go back to college and I am going to tell some kid sitting by himself you are going to be a future senator,” said Alvarado-Gomez.

The other two speakers addressed the influence the Center, which helps students not only reach out into the community but connect with other students and the community at the school.

“During my first semester, the Center became my anchor, it became a second home. It is the reason I feel connected to Moun Wachusett Community College and why I am so proud to be a student here,” said Jana Murphy a current student and AmeriCorps VISTA member. “But it wasn’t until I hit my first rough patch that I realized how important it is to feel that kind of connection to your school. It was this connection that kept me from dropping everything when I had a hard time in my classes, or when life in general became overwhelming.”

“The Center is a vital part of this school. It helps those in need. It gives people hope. It shows the student population that we do care about their success. They are not alone,” said John Day who graduated in 2015 and now works part-time at the school while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree at Fitchburg State University.

When Senator Brewer took the stage he talked about the commitment to learning that he sees in the students at Mount Wachusett Community College and how you cannot help but be inspired by the “miracle of learning” while at the school. The Senator said that he hoped the lessons of his life could have an impact on the lives of others.

“We know that none of us can do everything, but each of us can do something,” he said. “Thank you for this honor and responsibility.”

The dedication included a ribbon cutting with red tape standing in for ribbon to represent all the red tape that the Senator cut through during his years in the legislature. The Senator will have an office in the Center and continue his work inspiring and assisting students looking to make an impact on the world.

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 mwcc.edu/continuing/conference.

Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino accepts a certificate marking the $1.6 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center from Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Also pictured (from left) are MWCC Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships Lea Ann Scales, President and CEO of the MLSC Travis McCready, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, MWCC Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences Eileen Costello and Vice President of Academic Affairs Melissa Fama.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Travis McCready, local elected officials, and officials from Central Massachusetts educational institutions, to celebrate $2.9 million in capital grant funding for regional workforce development and STEM education projects that included $1.6 million to Mount Wachusett Community College.

The grants, from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), advance the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to build a highly trained workforce and seed job creation in regions across Massachusetts.

Lieutenant Governor Polito celebrated the regional grant awards at a ceremony at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner. Mount Wachusett is receiving over $1.6 million in MLSC grant funding, enabling the college to renovate and equip a new medical laboratory facility, and significantly improving the quality of hands-on training for students.

“This grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will allow us to equip a state-of-the-art medical laboratory technology classroom and create a new life sciences lecture room,” said Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino. “These improvements will allow us to better serve numerous science, medical and liberal arts students as well as expand the medical laboratory technology program that prepares graduates for the high-demand medical and clinical laboratory technician field.”

The awards are part of a statewide grant round that is delivering a total of $39 million in MLSC capital grants to 14 research and educational institutions, and 49 middle and high schools, across Massachusetts.

“Investments in the vitality of the Massachusetts workforce are critical to ensuring long-term growth in our economy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our ongoing efforts to deliver a high-quality STEM education to middle- and high-school students, and our focus on delivering impactful workforce training opportunities at community colleges and other institutions of higher education, will allow Massachusetts residents to access quality careers in growing fields, including robotics, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and biotechnology.”

In addition to the $1,646,787 grant to MWCC, Dean College and Framingham State University also received $297,030 and $454,000. Additionally, seven area high schools received $487,543 in funding for labs and other STEM-related improvements.

“The MLSC continues to make major capital investments to support education and training at academic institutions across the entire Commonwealth in order to meet the workforce needs of our state’s fastest-growing industry,” said Travis McCready, President and CEO of the MLSC. “Our capital grants will enable Mt. Wachusett Community College, Framingham State University and Dean College to significantly enhance their capacity for workforce training, so that our students will be better prepared for career opportunities in the life sciences. Through our STEM equipment and supply grants, area high schools and middle schools will be better positioned to connect students with jobs in the fast-growing Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem. In both cases, we are excited to play a role in supporting economic growth and workforce preparedness in Central Massachusetts.”

The MLSC’s Competitive Capital Program, from which funding for the college’s was provided, funds grants for capital projects that support the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts by enabling and supporting life sciences workforce development and training, research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in the Commonwealth. The program funds high-potential economic development projects by nonprofit entities that make significant contributions to the state’s life sciences ecosystem. To date, the MLSC has awarded or committed more than $405 million to support capital projects across the state.

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.