General News

The Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse. "New Deal" WPA Art. Built in 1932 and designed by architect James Wetmore. The exterior of the Trenton Federal Building is a well executed design with a "Stipped Neo-Classical" form, both Classical and Art Deco terra cotta detailing. The "New Deal Art" murals are by Charles Wells.

“New Deal” WPA art, Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Trenton, NJ, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith.

Following an inaugural year with Henry David Thoreau and last year’s examination of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project will begin its third year this fall with an artistic focus on “Imagining Work.”

During the upcoming academic year, students, faculty, staff and members of the greater community will delve into the many ways artists, writers and photographers have expressed the changing nature of work over the past 150 years. From farm to factory in the 19th century to our present-day knowledge economy, the effects of automation, globalization, immigration, war, and race on the identity of the American worker will be explored. A variety of events scheduled at the college and in the community are free and open to the public.

Funded through a multi-year challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project strengthens the college’s humanities curriculum; supports collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities; examines the intersection between the humanities and other academic disciplines; and engages the college and the greater community in the discussion of enduring themes from the world’s many cultures and traditions.

The theme will focus on the Great Depression photographs of Dorothea Lange, the Great Migration paintings by African American artist Jacob Lawrence and the poetry of Diane Gilliam Fisher, author of the award-winning book, Kettle Bottom, which depicts the Virginia mining wars.

“Year three of the Humanities Project is focused on something that MWCC students, faculty, staff and community members know a lot about – work,” said English Professor and Project Coordinator Michelle Valois. “Can the mundane be the subject of great works of art?  Can we find beauty in something we do day in and day out?  Our study will focus on paintings, photographs and poems that have transformed work into more than just a paycheck. These works of art show us the struggles and the joys of the American worker.”

This summer, participating faculty representing multiple disciplines met for a two-day workshop to develop curriculum and activities centered on the theme. Among several presentations, Stephen B. Jareckie, consulting curator of photography for the Fitchburg Art Museum, spoke on early 20th century photography, and artist and MWCC art history instructor Donalyn Schofield discussed the artwork of Jacob Lawrence.

Upcoming fall events include a gallery talk with Tracie Pouliot, founder of the Chair City Community Art Center and Oral History Bookmaking Project; the third annual hike for the humanities fundraiser at Wachusett Mountain; a pizza party and poetry readings from Kettle Bottom; an interactive art project creating replicas of Lawrence’s paintings; and a student poetry and prose slam.

Spring events will include a poetry reading with author Diane Gilliam Fisher; a presentation by University of Massachusetts, Lowell Professor Robert Forrant on female mill workers in Lowell from 1825 to 1860; and film screenings with Fitchburg State University Professor Joe Moser, including “Grab a Hunk of Lightning,” about the life of Dorothea Lange, Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times,” “The Devil and Miss Jones,” and “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.”

For more information, visit


PN disaster training Nov 7 2014Labouré College and Mount Wachusett Community College are partnering to support the continuing education of local nurses. The colleges have established a transfer agreement providing licensed practical nurses (LPNs) graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College a pathway to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Labouré College and obtain licensure as registered nurses.

Providing working nurses with a flexible, high-quality baccalaureate education has been the goal of Labouré College of Milton since the launch of its RN-BSN program in 2009. Labouré’s RN-BSN is offered in a hybrid format: courses are mostly online with two to three on-campus meetings per semester. Students find that this format provides the flexibility of online learning, while fostering important connections with their RN classmates as well as with their professors.

“A baccalaureate education builds on a strong nursing foundation and emphasizes leadership, critical thinking, and safe patient care. The BSN degree has become an entry level credential in many area hospitals, and we want to make sure our graduates have the chance for success,” said Al DeCiccio, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Labouré and a member of the team that orchestrated the agreement.

MWCC’s Practical Nursing certificate program provides short-term education leading to a rewarding healthcare career and prepares students to continue for a bachelor’s degree.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for graduates of our practical nursing program,” said Eileen Costello, Dean of MWCC’s School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences. “Mount Wachusett Community College encourages all of its graduates to participate in lifelong learning. By providing LPNs the means of obtaining RN licensure and a BSN degree though this articulation, we are supporting our state-wide initiative of seamless academic progression for nurses at all levels of education.”

The colleges will continue to review this collaboration annually to make sure the agreement benefits students. Both institutions have agreed to share data and to collaborate on new theories and best practices for student success.

To learn more about this agreement, please visit or call the Labouré College Office of Admissions at 617-322-3575 or, or contact the MWCC Office of Admissions at 978-630-9110 or


MWCC new student orientation 2016

President Asquino welcomes students during an orientation for new students on Sept. 1.

Mount Wachusett Community College students will begin the academic year amid a sea of change at the Gardner campus, following more than a year of construction and extensive renovations.

Approximately 950 new students got an early look at the campus’ transformation during day, evening and program-specific orientations held over the past week in advance of the new academic year, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Students will notice substantial changes to the Haley academic building and theater, as well as a new 44,000-square-foot science and technology building. The college will transition into the new building this month.

A majority of the new day students attended orientation on Thursday, Sept. 1, which included a half-day of seminars and other activities. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators greeted the incoming students and encouraged them to become involved with campus activities and to tap into college resources and services.

President Asquino emphasized that during their time at MWCC, students will be working in partnership with faculty and staff to reach their academic and career goals.

“Together, we want to make certain that you achieve that dream, that goal and that aspiration.”

The president also announced that plans are underway for construction of a new student center and repaving of the college’s driveways and parking lots. Both projects are in the planning stages with construction anticipated next spring summer.

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at MWCC,” said Dean of Students Jason Zelesky. “These changes represent our commitment to excellence in education and meeting the needs of the students and communities that we work so hard to serve.”

Coordinated by the office of Student Life, the orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs and activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about academic resources, and attended a student club expo.

Alberto Olivas, founding executive director of the Congressman Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at Arizona State University, was the keynote speaker. Olivas, who also addressed faculty and staff, spoke on the importance of embedding civic engagement within classroom instruction in a way that allows students to make “connections between what they’re learning in the classroom and what is going on in the world and in their lives.”



MWCC STEM Starter Academy 2016

STEM Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

MWCC’s third annual STEM Starter Academy came to a close in August, following a seven-week schedule that provided two free academic courses with textbooks, academic support, and a stipend for participants.

More than 30 students from throughout the region enrolled in one or two courses such as a four-credit lab science and one general elective. In addition to earning up to seven free credits toward their STEM Pathway, the students toured the college’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, received presentations on STEM careers, and explored MWCC’s transfer opportunities for its graduates.

“We are excited to complete our third annual summer program for local learners pursuing a degree in STEM fields,” said Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics. “This summer’s Academy was outstanding. We nearly doubled the number of participants who attended in 2015 as the word is spreading about this amazing opportunity. Students have increased confidence in the areas of time management, study skills and ability to access to the college’s numerous student services. Some of the greatest areas of growth for the students include their interactions with college faculty, the willingness to access academic tutoring, and to assist one another and establish study groups. We are already looking forward to welcoming the summer 2017 STEM Starter Academy students!”

Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the STEM Starter Academy is open to high school graduates or qualifying MWCC students who place into college-level English and math courses and are enrolling in one of MWCC’s STEM majors in the fall.

Qualifying MWCC STEM majors include analytical lab and quality systems, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer information systems, exercise and sports science, fire science technology, graphic and interactive design, interdisciplinary studies-allied health, medical laboratory technology, natural resources, physics, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy.

Courses offered during the summer academy included intermediate algebra, introduction to functions and modeling, life sciences for allied health, chemistry, statistics and introduction to psychology. In addition to the coursework, the students also participated in MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy on Aug. 23 and 24.

“Our students have had an outstanding summer and are ready to continue their studies this fall with two courses already under their belt,” said Christine Davis, MWCC’s STEM Starter Academy recruiter. Students from approximately a dozen area towns enrolled in the rigorous program, and tackled classes in an accelerated format that will prepare them for their careers, she said.

Many of the academy students are also recipients of STEM SET scholarships at MWCC. These awards of up to $3,500 per year are available to qualifying STEM majors through a grant the college received from the National Science Foundation.

In another MWCC STEM program supported by the DHE this summer, nearly 40 high school seniors participated in a four-credit introduction to physical science course and toured the college’s new science and technology building that is nearing completion.

For more information, contact MWCC’s admission’s office at 978-630-9110 or

Project Healthcare students from Fitchburg and Leominster High Schools participate in an activity at the MIT museum

Project Healthcare students Rohanji Novas and Preya Patel from Fitchburg and Leominster High Schools participate in an activity at the MIT museum.

Incoming freshmen at Fitchburg and Leominster’s public high schools will have an opportunity to join a program administered by Mount Wachusett Community College that prepares students for careers in the healthcare field.

In November, MWCC was awarded a five-year, $2.25 million federal grant to create the Project Healthcare program in collaboration with Fitchburg High School, Leominster High School and Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation. The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, is helping to address a national initiative to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority and disadvantaged healthcare providers by creating a high school-to-college pipeline of students who plan to enter the healthcare field. Health disparities – differences in health outcomes that are closely linked with social, economic, and environmental disadvantage – are often driven by the social conditions in which individuals live, learn, work and play. The workforce pipeline initiative aligns with federal initiatives to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, known as the HHS Disparities Action Plan.

The program provides counseling, coaching, field trips, guest speakers, and dual enrollment courses for up to 120 high school students. This spring, 98 students were recruited to participate in the program. In addition to continuing support for these students during the upcoming academic year, college administrators will recruit additional students from the class of 2020 to join the program.

“We were able to accomplish a lot in just the first six months of the program,” said Director Melissa Bourque-Silva of MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition. “I know that our hard working staff and productive partnerships will keep our students motivated to learn and grow. I’m very excited to see what this year will bring.”

Within five years, the two cohorts of students who entered ninth grade in fall 2015 and fall 2016 will graduate from high school prepared to enter MWCC’s Pre-Healthcare Academy. By the end of their second semester at MWCC, students will have completed 15 college credits. By earning dual enrollment college credits, students can complete a healthcare certificate program within the first year or two of college, and an associate degree within three years of entering college. Students are motivated to transfer to a four-year institution to continue with healthcare studies.

In addition to Bourque-Silva, MWCC educators Shaunti Phillips, Heidi Wharton and Train Wu serve as the program’s senior outreach specialists and career coaches.

This spring, during the school day and after school, students learned about career and college research with a healthcare focus, took field trips to healthcare facilities, participated in hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities, and heard from multiple guest speakers including doctors and nutritionists, Bourque-Silva said. This summer, several participants obtained their CPR certification.

“We are delighted to have six classes of such courses already scheduled during the school day, and we’re looking forward to having several more scheduled in the coming school year during after-school hours,” said Dr. Christopher Lord, Principal of Leominster High School. “This gives students an opportunity to get a taste of the rigors of college life while in high school,” he said.

“Our students are so fortunate to be participating in the Workforce Diversity Pipeline Grant with MWCC. At Fitchburg High School, we seek to prepare students for college preparation as well as the careers of the 21st Century,” said Principal Jeremy Roche. “Exposing our students to these kind of relevant, engaging and purposeful experiences in the health care fields is a tremendous opportunity and one that will hopefully reap benefits in the immediate school year, but more importantly, for years to come.”

First-year participants are reporting that the program has opened their eyes to the academic and career opportunities that will be available to them. “I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go to college,” one Fitchburg High School student noted. “But now since I have the opportunity, I want to.”

Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega, Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino

Media Arts & Technology Major Jasson Alvarado Gomez was sworn in as Mount Wachusett Community College’s Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 academic year. Pictured, from left: Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega, Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino

Mount Wachusett Community College student Jasson Alvarado Gomez is stepping in to two key leadership positions for the upcoming academic year.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, the Media Arts & Technology major was appointed to the college’s Board of Trustees, following a spring election by his peers. This fall, the Worcester resident will be appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education as a full voting member representing all students attending the state’s 29 colleges and universities.

“Jasson is making a tremendous difference in the lives of students and residents of our area through his active participation on campus and in the community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Being appointed to these two key positions is a wonderful achievement for him and I’m certain he will serve MWCC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the students, quite admirably.”

An aspiring filmmaker, Alvarado Gomez is a 2015 graduate of MWCC’s Gateway to College dual enrollment program in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, and previously attended Burncoat High School in Worcester.

At MWCC, he has served on the Student Government Association, as president of the ALANA Club, and on the Campus Activities Team for Students and SAGA organizations. He has served as a student ambassador and a volunteer for the United Way Day of Caring and the SGA annual food drive, and is a recipient of the Gateway Community Service Award.

While at Burncoat, Alvarado Gomez was a member of the National Honor Society, the Foreign Language Honor Society, the Dreamers Club and the JROTC, and is a recipient of the JROTC Outstanding Cadet Award and Community Service Award. He previously volunteered with the YMCA in Sutton and the Boys & Girls Club of Blackstone Valley.

Alvarado Gomez, who will earn an associate degree in May 2017, said he is grateful for the support and encouragement he received from MWCC faculty and staff, and believes the experience and insight he has gained serving on the Student Government Association has helped prepare him to be a voice for all students.

“This is an opportunity for me to be a better leader, and an opportunity to show what I can do for the community. I’m going to do the best that I can so I can leave something good behind for the students.”

UBMS 2016 Super Seniors

From left, Chandler Giuffre of Athol, Nathanial Gagnon of Winchendon and Sanjiv Sundaramurthy of Gardner, were among the area Upward Bound Math and Science students recognized for their academic achievements by MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition.

When Sanjiv Sundaramurthy heads off to the University of Arizona this fall to study physics, he’ll bring everything he needs for his dorm room, including first-hand experience with college life and free, transferable college credits toward his bachelor’s degree thanks to the Upward Bound Math and Science program at Mount Wachusett Community College. 

The 2016 Gardner High School graduate has just completed his second year in UBMS, a year-round federal TRIO program administered by Mount Wachusett Community College for Gardner, Athol and Winchendon students. 

More than two dozen high school students participated in the program’s six-week residential component, which took place this summer at Fitchburg State University and included academic courses, extracurricular activities, career exploration and field trips.

The students were recognized for their academic success during an awards ceremony on Aug. 4. Sundaramurthy was joined by Chandler Giuffre of Athol and Nathanial Gagnon of Winchendon as the event’s featured student speakers.

This fall, Gagnon, who has earned 30 college credits through UBMS, plans to continue his studies at MWCC before furthering his education in the field of biomedical engineering. Giuffre, who completed an associate degree in Liberal Arts – Pre-Engineering and Physics and earned his high school diploma this spring through MWCC’s Pathways Early College Innovation School, is transferring to UMass Lowell fall to continue studying physics and math. 

“UBMS is such a great program,” Giuffre said. “This program has allowed me to grow and develop into who I am today.” 

Fagan Forhan, Assistant Dean of K-12 Partnerships and Civic Engagement, congratulated the students on their achievements and thanked the many parents and grandparents in attendance for the encouragement they’ve provided. 

The UBMS program is offered to students who have an aptitude for math and science and are in grades 9 through 12 at Gardner High School, Athol High School and Murdock Middle/Senior High School in Winchendon. Two-thirds of the students are from low income or first-generation college families and have an identified need for services. The supervised residential component acquaints students with campus life while providing an opportunity to grow academically, socially and culturally, said Angele Goss, Director of MWCC’s UBMS and North Central Mass Talent Search programs. 

The students attended workshops on leadership and careers, took part in a variety of recreational and educational programs and went on field trips to colleges, universities and museums. 

MWCC’s North Central Massachusetts Upward Bound Math and Science program began in 2008 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2012, the college received a five-year, $1.3 million grant to continue funding the program.

Charlene Dukes President Asquino Walter BumphusPresident Daniel M. Asquino was recently recognized for his three decades of leadership at MWCC by the American Association of Community Colleges. President Asquino, who announced plans to retire in early 2017, was among approximately two dozen retiring CEOs honored during the AACC’s 96th annual convention in Chicago.
Dr. Asquino is currently the longest serving president among Massachusetts’ public institutions of higher education. He was appointed in August, 1987 to succeed the college’s first president, Arthur F. Haley. The college’s Board of Trustees has appointed a search committee to find his successor.
Pictured: Charlene Dukes, left, chair of the AACC Board of Directors and president of Prince George’s Community College, joins AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus, right, in thanking President Asquino for his years of service to MWCC, the AACC, and public higher education.