General News

Sen Brewer Congressman McGovern 2

Congressman Jim McGovern, with Senator Stephen Brewer, at the MWCC Foundation annual dinner.

An outpouring of admiration and acclamation for state Senator Stephen M. Brewer and Mount Wachusett Community College student scholars fueled an evening of inspiration and celebration during the MWCC Foundation’s annual dinner on April 9.

The event, held at the Wachusett Mountain ski lodge, honored the long-serving legislator as the foundation’s 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year.

Congressman Jim McGovern delivered remarks both heartfelt and comical, before announcing that Senator Brewer’s 26-years of exemplary leadership in the Legislature has been officially noted in the Congressional Record.

“Senator Brewer is a giant; someone who not only looked out for his constituents and his community, but also for Massachusetts. I can think of no one finer to receive this year’s Harold E. Drake Citizen of the Year award for his service to the Commonwealth and to the constituents he represented over nearly three decades of public service,” the official record reads, in part. Senator Brewer retired from the Legislature last fall.

“As senator, Steve helped countless people,” Congressman McGovern said. “I admire him because of all the great things he’s done and because he’s never thrown away his conscience.” Regarding the senator’s popularity, the Congressman quipped, “Have you ever walked in a parade with him? It’s like walking with Elvis, everyone wants to meet him.”

In addition to celebrating Senator Brewer’s legacy, the event acknowledged the academic success and civic engagement of MWCC students, as well as the volunteerism of area middle school and high school students who participate in United Way Youth Venture, a thriving partnership between the college, the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and the international organization Ashoka.

The audience of 220 college supporters, benefactors, students and community leaders rose to their feet on many occasions throughout the night, beginning with remarks delivered by student speaker Cathy Teague, president of the Student Government Association. She shared how she and her husband, Jason, an Army veteran, rebuilt their troubled marriage after realizing the power of a college education to shape a brighter future for themselves and their children. The Winchendon couple, who divorced and later remarried, credited the support they received at MWCC through various student and veteran support services.

“During the past two years, I have transformed from a scared single mother of three little boys that didn’t know where her life was going. I have grown to be a more confident person who has a clear path. Through MWCC, Jason has found one of his true passions, which is helping other veterans” as a mentor and advocate for veteran suicide prevention she said.

“Because of the scholarship support and the positive encouragement I received, I have an amazing story. My once broken family is back together again, and I have grown into a person that I never thought I could be.”

An exchange between the couple and Senator Brewer sparked the most poignant moment of the night, when the senator presented Jason Teague with the flag lapel pin he was wearing, along with words of encouragement. In response, Teague asked to approach the microphone, and then presented Senator Brewer the pin he was wearing – the high school graduation pin of his 20-year-old son, who is currently serving in Afghanistan. The men embraced, tearfully, as tears flowed freely throughout the banquet hall.

During his remarks, Senator Brewer lauded President Daniel Asquino for his visionary leadership and the college for its ability to transform lives through education and student-centered service. He spoke of his love for America, his admiration for Harold Drake, and the dedicated spirit of the Youth Venture teens who represent the country’s future.

“The promise of our country is to do better for the next generation,” he said.

President Asquino described Senator Brewer as a man of many hats and talents, but above all, “a great human being and an example of a truly caring and engaged citizen of our democracy. Today all of our lives have been improved because this year’s honoree exhibits the fine characteristics of good citizenship, of sacrifice well beyond self-interest and of volunteerism.”

President Asquino recognized several student leaders in attendance for exemplary achievements this spring, including Ms. Teague, who will be MWCC’s recipient in May of state Department of Higher Education’s 29 Who Shine Award; John Day of Gardner, who was recently named a national Newman Civic Scholar by Campus Compact; Student Trustee Phillip Stan of Gardner, one of 150 students named a national Coca-Cola Scholar this year; newly elected 2015-2016 student Trustee Thomas Berger of Winchendon, a veteran of the U.S. Army; Louis Ayisi of Leominster, who has represented MWCC students as a featured speaker high-level events at the statehouse; and Aaron Trudeau of Rindge, N.H., a Marine veteran who was selected nationally to join President Obama and Vice President Biden at the recent dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for his essay on community service.

Featured speakers also included State Senator Harriette Chandler, Foundation board Chairman Richard Mohnk, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and former MWCC Trustee Jay Davis Drake, who has presented the annual award for the past two decades to community members who exemplify his father’s volunteerism and commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

“Mount Wachusett Community College,” Congressman McGovern remarked, “is a place where incredible things happen and dreams come true.”

MWCC Group with students

Senator Stephen M. Brewer, front row, center, was recognized with the 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year Award by the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation. Pictured front row, from left: Jason and Cathy Teague, Jay Davis Drake, President Daniel M. Asquino, Senator Brewer, Congressman Jim McGovern, Valerie Brewer, Rep. Stephen DiNatale. Back row, MWCC student leaders with Senator Harriette Chandler, second from left, and Rep. Jon Zlotnik, right.

 

 

Regional High School Art Exhibit 2015Students from 12 area high schools participated in Mount Wachusett Community College’s 33rd Annual Regional Exhibition of High School Art. Sponsored by the MWCC Art Department, the competition presented cash prizes to 10 students, the MWCC Art Club award to one recipient, and honorable mention awards to 72 students during a ceremony April 9. More than 300 items were on exhibit in the college’s East Wing Gallery.

“The Annual Regional Exhibition of High School Art is one of the most popular exhibits and annual events for the college and the community,” said Art Professor John Pacheco, who organizes the event. The exhibit featured work in both two and three dimensions, including drawings, photographs, painting, graphic design, collage, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. The exhibit was judged by the art department faculty, who look for artwork that demonstrates originality and artistic technique.

Cash prize winners in this year’s exhibition are: Dakota Deal of Gardner High School; Jordan Martin of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School; Nick Zbikowski and Cassandra Fayorsey of Oakmont Regional High School; August Stowers and Olivia Witkor of Quabbin Regional High School; Julie Fox, Megan Gage and Haley Wilmot of Wachusett Regional High School; and Michael McKenna of Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, N.H.

Angela Kelly of Wachusett Regional High School received the MWCC Art Club Award.

MWCC offers an associate degree in art and many graduates continue their studies to pursue bachelor’s degrees at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Montserrat College of Art; UMass Amherst; Savannah College of Art and Design; and others.

This year, MWCC added a new academic program, Liberal Arts and Sciences with an art concentration. The new program provides a broad foundation in academic studies with an emphasis in art and design. This degree includes important fundamental courses recognized by transfer institutions and industries that value creative thinking and innovation. Students transfer to four year programs where an art background is necessary but not the sole focus such as: art therapy, art history, museum studies, art conservation, art administration, non-profit management, or education. This program meets the requirements for MassTransfer agreement.

Deb BoucherDebra Boucher, MWCC Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Success, is the recipient of the Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education’s 2015 Phenomenal Woman Award. Boucher was presented with the award during the MWPHE spring conference on April 3 in Sterling.

Boucher joined MWCC in 2008 as a transfer counselor in the college’s TRIO Student Support Services/Visions Program, and was subsequently appointed assistant director of enrollment management and advising. In 2012, she was promoted to Director of Student Success, where she became a driving force behind the college’s ASPIRE strategy, a five-year initiative funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant to enhance student retention and degree completion goals.

Boucher said she was honored to receive the award, and reflected the recognition back to her colleagues. “It’s a privilege to work here and be surrounded by people who are committed to student success.”

A wife and mother of three, Boucher decided to enroll in college at age 33 to fulfill a long-held goal. After completing an associate degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences at MWCC, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree in counseling from Fitchburg State University.

“Deb is a talented leader who always puts student success and the welfare of her team ahead of her own personal goals,” said colleague Liza Day Smith, Ph.D., MWCC Assistant Director of Advising. “Her ability to anticipate the changes needed to accomplish institutional and state goals around enrollment and retention is unsurpassed. She has built a strong team around her while addressing the needs of the students and the college.”

CBS EXECUTIVEHollywood executive Kevin Berg, a Gardner native in charge of bringing award-winning CBS television programs to audiences across the U.S. and around the world, will return to where his career began to deliver the keynote address at Mount Wachusett Community College’s 50th Commencement in May. In addition, Berg will be presented with an honorary doctorate of Humanities and the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award.

As executive vice president of production for CBS Network Entertainment Group, Berg is responsible for production on all CBS properties with the exception of news and sports. He has been intimately involved with the launch and continuing success of the hit CSI and NCIS franchises; Blue Bloods; Criminal Minds; Elementary; Extant; The Good Wife; Hawaii Five-O; Madam Secretary; Scorpion; The Amazing Race; Survivor; The Odd Couple; Under the Dome; Beauty and the Beast; America’s Next Top Model; Undercover Boss; Late Show, The Late, Late Show, several game shows and countless others.

At CBS, he is fiscally responsible for all production costs and schedules and oversees spending in excess of $1.5 billion annually. He is also responsible for worldwide production, including productions located in the United States, Canada, Malta, Israel, South Africa and Jordan.

“We are delighted to welcome Kevin Berg back to Mount Wachusett Community College as this year’s Commencement speaker and Alumnus of the Year,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Our students have gone on to build successful careers in a wide range of fields, but it’s rare to have one whose work has an impact on our lives every day of the week.”

Berg got his start in broadcasting as a communications student at MWCC from fall 1982 to spring 1984. After graduating from Gardner High School and following a short stint at a furniture factory, Berg decided to enroll at MWCC, but had no idea which career to pursue. While touring the college one day, he ran into a family friend – MWCC’s influential administrator Frank Hirons – who encouraged him to take up television production in the college’s new, state-of-the-art video production studios.

“The Mount had phenomenal facilities and had phenomenal technology available to me, so I had a jump on the technology side,” Berg said in a recent telephone interview.

The skills he gained at MWCC helped him land an internship at WNEV TV Channel 7 in Boston, (now WHDH), which ordinarily went to graduates of four-year schools. When the production manager abruptly quit, Berg was hired for the job and worked on a short-lived, live, daily show called New England Afternoon, hosted by Bill O’Reilly. After the show ended, Berg packed up and moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and started knocking on doors, résumé in hand, to find a job in television.

On the fourth day, he walked into award-winning director Marty Pasetta’s company, and was subsequently hired as a production coordinator. Over the next five years, he was successively promoted while working with Pasetta on the Academy Awards, the Emmys, Disney specials and an assortment of variety shows featuring A-list talent.

He shifted gears to series television in 1989 and produced multiple award-winning series such as “In Living Color,” “Tracy Takes On…” and “The News Hole,” prior to joining Nancy Tellem, then-president of CBS, in the summer of 1998. 

“I rose up the ranks pretty quickly,” Berg said. “It is drive, determination and desire – the three D’s. I’ve worked with so many phenomenal people.”

Berg also was involved in the transition from standard definition production/programming to high definition production/programming for both the CBS network and studio. Additionally, he played a key role in the merger of CBS and Paramount in 2004 and the split of the companies in 2006.

He is actively involved with multiple charities that protect and invest in the lives of children, and with establishing and producing neighborhood and community activities and events. He served a four-year term on the Board of Directors for the Entertainment Industries Foundation, the lead philanthropic nonprofit in the entertainment industry, helping it grow from an annual $10 million charitable fund to $100 million. He currently serves on the Directors Guild of America’s Directors Guild – Producer Training Plan board, which places and trains aspiring assistant directors on existing feature and television productions.

“We are very fortunate that Kevin kept in touch over the years, so we were able to follow his success in Hollywood,” said his former broadcasting and communications professor, Dr. Vincent Ialenti, now Dean of Academic and Institutional Technology and Interim Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Education, Humanities and Communications. The academic program has since evolved into the Media Arts and Technology program, offering concentrations in video/film, audio engineering and photography.

Berg, whose family co-owned the former Columbus & Berg construction company in Gardner, met his wife, Donna, while working on “In Living Color.” The couple has two sons and two daughters.

“MWCC will always hold a special place in my heart,” Berg said.

 

 

Matt Agosto

Videographer Matt Agosto has entered First Lady Michelle Obama’s #ReachHigher video contest.

With hard work a bit of luck, Mount Wachusett Community College student Matthew Agosto’s Discover You – Reach Higher with MWCC video will bring First Lady Michelle Obama to Gardner.

Through her #ReachHigher initiative, Mrs. Obama is challenging high school and college students to make attending and completing college a reality for all students. She put out a call for videos, in particular videos that depict college students inspiring high school students to achieve academic excellence. If Agosto’s video is chosen as a finalist, the FLOTUS could be a speaker at MWCC’s commencement in May.

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.

Students, teachers, school counselors and administrators from high schools and colleges were invited to create video submissions showing how they encourage high school students to extend their education.

“Education is the key to success for so many kids,” Mrs. Obama said earlier this year about the Reach Higher Initiative. “And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.”

Agosto, who is majoring in Media Arts & Technology with a concentration in photography, said he fully supports Mrs. Obama’s cause. “She actually wants to start a movement and see people become successful,” he said, adding that the #ReachHigher initiative will “give the younger generation something to look forward to and actually push them to become more successful.”

In addition to supporting the cause, Agosto enjoyed making the video, especially being the director. Creating and directing a video had been a long-held dream, and “the fact I got to see my vision through and receive encouragment from the college was an amazing opportunity. This project really pushed me to another level. Creating this video proved to myself and to others that I have what it takes to become a director and a cinematographer.”

Coming up with an idea was the hardest step, though Agosto knew he wanted his message to be strong and compassionate, and with just music in the background, video of students and text.

Agosto’s creation is at the whim of the contest’s judges, who have not yet announced the winner. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, he said, “I am proud to say that I made this video.”

To view Agosto’s video on YouTube, go to http://ow.ly/LBn2W.

 

MWCC construction ramp demoSite preparation for MWCC’s new science and technology building on the Gardner campus continues on schedule with much activity taking place inside and outside the Haley Academic Center.

During the week of March 23, construction crews were busy breaking up concrete structures on the front lawn and moving soil to make way for the addition. Offices on the second and third floors that are located where the addition will connect to the main building were vacated and employees were relocated. Partitions are being built on the first, second and third floors and the Fine Arts stairwell to cordon off the construction zone.

During the week of March 30, demolition activities will continue on the front of the building as well as the Fine Arts Wing stairwell. Within the building, some mechanical and electrical demolition in the division office areas will begin.

The 44,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the 41-year-old Arthur F. Haley Academic Center will bring MWCC to the forefront of STEM education. A Building for the Future ceremony marking the start of the project is being scheduled for mid-spring.

 

Student Trustee Phil Stan

Student Trustee Phillip Stan has been named a 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar

MWCC Student Trustee Phillip Stan has been named a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar. This year, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation recognized 150 students out of 1,700 applicants. Stan was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a medallion.

“We are extremely proud of Phil Stan for achieving this prestigious recognition,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “The Coca-Cola scholars program is highly competitive and is awarded to our nation’s best and brightest students. Phil is an outstanding, dedicated mentor to his peers and an inspiration to the entire college community.”

The competition required students to write an essay on what they view as their most significant contribution at their college. Stan’s award-winning essay focused on his work as a volunteer mentor to fellow students through the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program, created by students and administered through the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

“Were it not for the SOS program, many of the students that have visited us would not have seen their dream of college completion reach fruition,” Stan wrote. “It is for this reason that I consider my involvement with the program my greatest collegiate contribution.”

A Gardner resident and accomplished musician, Stan is majoring in Liberal Arts with a concentration in music. After graduating from MWCC this May, he plans to continue for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and pursue a career as a music therapist working with children with autism and other special needs.

At MWCC, Stan serves in several leadership roles. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees, he is vice president of civic and community engagement for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a member of Commonwealth Honors Program, and a mentor with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program within the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Stan will be honored during the PTK All-State Academic Team Recognition ceremony on May 1 at the State House in Boston.

The Phi Theta Kappa international honor society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and recognizes Coca-Cola Community College scholars during All-State Community College Academic Team Recognition ceremonies held in 38 states.

Community college presidents or their designated nominators may submit no more than two nominations per campus for this award. An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service in the selection process.

“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their vote of confidence in community college students by investing in their futures,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa. “Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees.”

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 states of the U.S., and in numerous countries. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.

 

John Day.Mount Wachusett Community College student leader John Day has been presented with Campus Compact’s 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award for his dedication and commitment to serving others.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. The Newman Civic Fellows Award is named for Dr. Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact, who dedicated his life to creating opportunities for student civic learning and engagement.

Following an initial volunteer opportunity with the MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement during his first semester in 2012, Day became increasingly involved in campus life and community service.

The Gardner resident currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA, dedicated to working with community partners to provide quality service learning and civic learning opportunities for MWCC students. He is treasurer and past vice president of the MWCC Student Government Association, is president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a founding member of the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) peer advocacy program.

In addition, Day participates in the college’s Leadership for Life program, is an orientation leader during new student orientations, has volunteered during alternative spring break with Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts, and is a past member of the Campus Activities Team for Students. Day earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in May 2014 and is currently a full-time student pursuing a certificate in Small Business Management at MWCC. He plans to continue his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in business.

“We are extremely proud of John for his leadership on campus and in the community, and are delighted that he has been recognized with this distinguished award,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “John is motivated, enthusiastic and dedicated, and cares very deeply for his fellow students. As a student leader, he serves in many capacities, but above all, he is a true advocate for others.”

For the past three years, Day has served as a peer mentor in the SOS program, where he provides guidance and advice to fellow students who are struggling to meet basic needs such as housing, transportation and childcare, while pursuing their education. Nearly 90 percent of the students who seek assistance from the SOS office remain enrolled. Day said that as an SOS volunteer and mentor, he has gained greater insight into the inequalities that many area residents encounter.

“It is truly humbling to witness the struggle some students face to get an education to better their lives and the lives of their families,” he said. “I am glad to help them succeed. Working in the SOS office has opened my eyes to needs in our community and how I can be a part of addressing injustice and inequality. Through these experiences I have volunteered alongside people who are very different from myself; they hold different political, religious, and cultural beliefs, and that has been invaluable. I have learned what it truly means to be a part of a community which is full of respect, compassion and caring.”

Day has helped develop numerous civic engagement projects and programming, including the national Economic Inequality Initiative that is being spearheaded by MWCC, Keene State College and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment. This past fall, Day coordinated student, alumni, staff and faculty volunteers during the college’s second annual United Way Day of Caring event. Crews assembled 20,435 meals for homeless shelters, food pantries and veterans organizations in North Central Massachusetts.

Day is one of 201 college and university students selected for the national award this year. This is the third consecutive year a Mount Wachusett student has received the prestigious recognition.

“These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world,” Richard Guarasci, chairman of the Campus Compact board and president of Wagner College in New York.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award is generously sponsored by the KPMG Foundation. For more information about the organization and the award, visit http://www.compact.org.

access & transition women in leadership 2015Approximately 50 students and campus mentors participated in the Access & Transition programs’ Women in Leadership Forum on March 27 in recognition of Women’s History Month.

Students in the Gateway to College, College Access Challenge Grant, Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program, and the Pathways Early College Innovation School were nominated by their advisors to participate in the event. The half-day forum included information about the state of women in the world today, round table discussions, and a Jeopardy-themed icebreaker that quizzed participants on women in politics, sports and literature, famous quotes and other topics.

Melissa Bourque-Silva, MWCC Director of Dual Enrollment, led the informative and empowering event.